2015 Channel Chiefs: Advice For Channel Newbies

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Given that the executives on the 2015 Channel Chiefs list are the who's who of channel management, it only makes sense to squeeze some advice out of them for people just joining the channel.

Here, members of the 2015 Channel Chiefs list lean on their vast experience and offer up some words of wisdom for finding success in the channel.

For more from this year's list, check out the 2015 Channel Chiefs home.


David Maffei

VP, Global Channel Sales

It's all about making it easy for partners to do business with you. Deliver a product that is easy to sell and deploy and a partner program that is easy to participate in and that rewards a partner's commitment and investment. Also, listen to your partners. The channel community's level of IT expertise is invaluable; they sit in the technology crow's nest, pairing offerings that a vendor may have never thought out. They are fact gathers on customer pain points which make vendor's updates/releases timely and relevant.


Steve Harvey

VP, Worldwide Sales

Without a doubt, the most important aspect of entering the channel is clearly defining the market segment you wish to target and ensuring the value add your organization has to offer is clearly aligned with the needs of that market. All too often we see smart people with strong technical backgrounds assume technical selling is all that is required to be successful and fail due to lack of a clearly defined target market and matching of skills to that market. Clearly defined success metrics which can be measured in real time are critical to making mid-course corrections.

D-Link Systems

Michael Hardy

VP, Enterprise, Channel Sales

As a vendor, I would say the most important thing to understand is your partner's business models. If you can't support their financial requirements, they will find someone who can. Be transparent and open, while remembering their value is connecting you to your customer. But first and foremost, you need to earn their business.


Todd Kaloudis

VP, Worldwide Partner Sales

The most important first step is to understand your business and the market it fits within. Next is to determine the best roles partners can play. It is very important to review all aspects of your sales lifecycle -- from product inception to generating leads, closing sales, collecting money and post-sales support -- and make sure that your interfaces with partners are deliberate. And finally, the golden rule: win-win. If your goal is to expand your business with partners, make sure that your business is also helping partners to profitably expand theirs.


Matt Bauer

Director, Americas Channel

1. Enablement! More knowledge is equal to lesser risk, better sales and happier customers.

2. Quality over quantity. Don't be afraid to be selective when choosing partners. It's expensive for both you and the partner so it's important to take the time necessary to make the right choice.

3. Be easy to do business with. Leveraging technology is the key to offering cost-effective channel support and scalability.

4. Communicate constantly. It's the grease that will smooth the gears of day-to-day business.

F5 Networks

Keith McManigal

Regional VP, Channel Sales, Americas

Show up. Many people don't make the calls or do the work and expect things to come to them. This is not the case, so work hard and good things will come to you.

Do what you say you will do. Always follow up in all business conversations. Be known as the person who people can rely on.

Listen to the customer more than you talk. It's easy to give your sales pitch to customers, but it's hard to ask questions, actively listen to the customer, and tailor your message in the customer's language and terms, instead of your terms.


Tami Duncan

VP, Global Business Partners, North America

Focus on managed services, not point products Showcase your skills and capabilities, not your line card, and learn to call into the line of business where the future funding for IT will be coming from. Help the client's make business decisions not IT decisions.


Thomas Stanley

Senior Vice President of Global Partner Sales & Alliances

Understand that customers are going through more changes today than ever before. It is important to get to know who, outside of IT, is influencing the buying decision for the solutions that you sell. Choose to partner with companies that are committed to excellence at partnering. Do what you say you will do, and hold others accountable for doing the same. Have fun and enjoy the ride!

Red Hat

Mark Enzweiler

SVP, Global Channel Sales, Alliances

Learn the industry. Working with partners is not a traditional sell-to-transaction. You have to deeply understand their business, watch their competitors and adapt. Spend the first 30 minutes of every day putting yourself in your competitors' shoes. Ask, -if I were them, what would I do to try and beat my competition? Know that this is about business, not technology. You might know everything about technology, but it will not make you successful here. Finally, operate with a split brain. Look at what you're doing and ask, if I'm the partner, does this make sense? Partners respect this.


John Keenan

VP, North America Sales

Jump in, you will not regret it. Many that have built our careers in the channel never sought out to be in this business, we fell in to it. Every day is unique, you are challenged with ever-changing technology, it affords the opportunity to build lasting personal relationships and you are properly rewarded for performance. Whether you are pursuing a career with a vendor or reseller there are a few characteristics that are common amongst successful channel champions. Be passionate about your products and solutions, maintain the utmost integrity and network within the industry that supports the channel.

SPS Commerce

Chrissy Mathison

Director, Channel Sales

Your solutions or services need to help grow and expand the overall business of channel partners. The days of what your channel partner can do for you are over. It is now what you can do for your channel partner. How can you help them grow their business in a strategic and material way is the basis of defining channel success today. With many companies competing to serve the same partner community, differentiation and business value are critical to success, as are trusted advisors.

Trend Micro

Partha Panda

VP, Global Channels, Alliances

There will always be a need for the traditional manufacturer/distributor/reseller business model. However, embracing new business models, and integrating them into your business, is the key to growth, profitability and long-term success. Understanding your customer's needs and providing the right solution is also critical. This requires partners to establish the right alliances, and work with innovative manufacturers, to create and package those solutions. This also requires the ability to deliver that solution in the manner which is optimal for their client. This could be through traditional means, as a service provider, or from the cloud.

Violin Memory

Eric Herzog

CMO and SVP Alliances

Anyone entering the channel needs to understand that channel product and service offerings need to be their number one priority. This takes place throughout the organization, manifesting in the need to build a margin stack that creates loyalty to your products, and enables channel partners to offer their customers a valuable solution. New channel entrants must also recognize the need to develop their channel program through training, partner incentives and ongoing dialog with resellers.

Virtual Instruments

John Gentry

VP, Marketing, Alliances

For those looking to develop channel programs, I would stress the fact that you can't do it halfway. These initiatives require significant commitment from your company as a whole. You'll need to create a holistic effort that incorporates your services, sales and support teams. If you can't put all of these resources toward maintaining and, hopefully, expanding the program, there's no way it will thrive on its own. You need to consider each component that a partner requires to effectively market your technology, and only once all of those boxes are checked off should you move forward with the initiative.


Mariah West

Director, Global Partner Marketing

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to the channel. Ensure you develop offerings and programs that complement your partners' own go-to-market strategies. Your partners want a mutually beneficial relationship as much as you do, so learn their businesses and apply best practices in a way that will benefit their pre-existing objectives. Then set clear goals and make sure to follow up. This will help you stay top of mind.