20 Ways Channel Chiefs Spent Money Last Year

What Were The Key Channel Investments You Made Over The Past Year?

A vendor's channel program is only as strong as its partners. So what's the key to keeping a stable of forward-thinking, innovative solution providers?

As part of our 2016 Channel Chiefs project, CRN asked the participants what key investments they made in the best interest of their partners over the last year.

Here, 20 of the 2016 Channel Chiefs sound off on the recent channel-focused investments their company's made.

Amazon Web Services

Terry Wise

VP, Worldwide Partner Ecosystem, AWS

AWS more than doubled investments in APN (AWS Partner Network) Partners with the most significant set of updates, enhancements and new benefits available to the APN since its inception. Last year, AWS introduced the AWS Managed Service Program and the AWS SaaS Partner Program. Both programs experienced rapid adoption, with 40+ partners passing a third-party auditing process for the AWS Managed Service Program and 200+ vendors in the AWS SaaS Partner Program.

AWS expanded the AWS Direct Connect Program, which helps AWS customers establish network connectivity between AWS Direct Connect locations and their datacenter, office or colocation environment. There are 22 Direct Connect locations around the globe.

Aruba Networks

Jim Harold

VP, Channels

Aruba Networks invested in a new CPQ tool, enhancing our partners' ability to quote and configure Aruba products. Aruba also invested in enablement, offering additional training coupons and on-line courses.

In 2015, Aruba doubled the channel sales team in North America, including iCAMs. Aruba also invested in CAM development and partner management skills using Miller Heiman, and expanded the Partner SE Enablement Lab (SEEL), allowing partners to do remote demonstrations of Aruba solutions.

Cisco Systems

Julie Hens

VP, Global Distribution Sales

Security: Investments in training and enablement directly helping partners build a security practice through network assessments, creating integrated network security designs and conducting risk assessments translating into actionable recommendations. We have provided 600+ demo units, and invested in dedicated engineering resources within our distributors.

Software: Executing our largest software enablement program in years and investing in training our distributors to train our partners to understand the overall Cisco software value proposition

Operations: Building our capabilities to improve partners' experience through distribution – ordering through to fulfillment. Partners will have new fulfillment flexibility to determine the ideal way to serve customers.

Condusiv Technologies

Steve Ryan

Director, Global Channel Operations

1. Completely new pricing model with enhanced partner margins and increased deal registration discounts for our U.S. channel partners.

2. Simplified our online, on-demand training program based on partner feedback to make it more user-friendly.

3. Introduced new lead-generation and marketing campaigns to drive business for our partners.

4. Introduced a software tool that allows partners to assess performance bottlenecks in their customer's server/storage environments.


Cheryl Cook

VP, Global Channels, Alliances

For Premier Partners, Dell is offering up to $40,000 in marketing development funds based on sales volume in Client and Enterprise lines of business.

Partners at this level can now earn up to $20,000 in both Client and Enterprise MDF. Dell accelerated efforts to enhance online and offline partner order experience. These efforts include reducing cycle times for deal registration approvals and automating rebates and incentive payments.

Dell also made new advancements in Storage and Identity and Access Management to open up opportunities for partners who prefer to focus more deeply on these single practice area solutions.


Gregg Ambulos

SVP, Global Channel Sales, Operations

1. We continue to invest in the Business Partner Program by rewarding partners for everything they sell, meaning rebates are paid on dollar-one.

2. Time in the field is gold for any selling organization. We've made it easier for partners to take advantage of critical training and enablement without compromising time with customers and prospects. From e-learning to an easier Web experience, we're bringing training and enablement to our partners in the ways that make the most sense for them.

3. EMC TRUE is yielding excellent partner feedback so far. We're excited to roll it out to other markets soon.


Nick Ganio

VP, North American Sales

ExaGrid has over doubled its field sales force responsible for recruiting new resellers and expanding the business with existing resellers. ExaGrid has improved its deal registration, per deal SPIF program meeting maker programs in order to increase the amount of money resellers can make selling ExaGrid products.

ExaGrid has also increased the size of its inside sales team responsible for find new sales opportunities. 98% of ExaGrid's business goes through the channel so opportunities that inside sales finds actually increases the business going through resellers.

F5 Networks

Keith McManigal

Regional VP, Channel Sales, Americas

F5 Networks expanded our partner technical accreditation award program to incent our partners to learn our technology and then receive an incentive for the first opportunity they bring to F5. We increased the number of F5 Channel Technical resources by 50 percent.

We listened to our partners when they asked us to train their technical teams to increase sales and partner capabilities. As a result, partners will have more access to F5 technical resources.

F5 Networks published solution training materials, for the first time ever, for both the F5 field and partners at the same time. Materials were posted to our partner portal, F5 Partner Central.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Efrain Rovira

VP, Hybrid IT Channel

The HPE Channel division invested in tools and resources to make the separation easier to navigate, and speed our partners' transition to the four Transformation Areas, including:

- Continued investment to provide enhanced coverage in key channel areas like SMB, Commercial, and SLED.

- Development and deployment of the Partner Navigator program, which guided our most important partners through the separation in a smooth and closely managed way.

- Continued deployment and enhancements to partner tools and training, including the HP/HPE Unison Partner Portal, new Partner Locator tools, and the SMB Partner Marketplace.

- More than doubled our MDF spending on Cloud-related initiatives.


Curt Mark

VP, Channel Sales

1. Invested heavily in face-to-face interactions with our partners beyond traditional tradeshow and industry events to include more focused regional partner meetings.

2. Introduced new demand generation programs to help partners find more opportunities as well as lead passing to drive more business to our partners.

3. Instituted additional partner advisory councils for our core services to get partners more involved our product road maps.

4. Added new vertical market programs.

5. Invested in a learning management system to better support our partners' sales and technical training.


Sandy Janes

Director, Channel Strategy, Americas

Mitel has invested in several partner facing tools over the last year including a revised Partner Portal, a Partner Dashboard that tracks the key elements of Mitel's partner program. Mitel also invested in Channel Account management reports that allow our channel managers to have a consolidated snapshot of all their partner metrics so they can spot – and respond to – potential accomplishments or issues earlier. Prior to this, Mitel revamped its Learning Management Tools, which has led to increased partner participation in sales and technical training.


Nadine Routhier

VP, Strategy, Marketing, Channel, Retail Solutions Div.

Our largest investment was in channel infrastructure resources.

Channel Solution Management Team: A team fully dedicated to delivering solutions that are purpose built for the Customers we target through the channel and ensuring our partners are fully enabled to sell, implement and support.

Global Distribution Leader: This role enables how we are now positioned to better leverage the infrastructure and the value added services our Distribution Partners.

Channel Marketing: We added a Solution Marketing Manager to support our efforts in delivering more impactful marketing materials and driving demand generation for our channel Partners.


Craig West

VP, Channel Sales

Growth of Sales/Channel Team: NetSuite hired leaders in our sales and global systems integrators organizations, and new employees globally to service channel partners.

Bringing New Products to Market: SuiteCommerce InStore, Bronto Software and a new release of NetSuite OneWorld, which delivers transformative power to global businesses of all sizes with any business model (B2B, B2C and B2Anything). The latest advancements expand support for NetSuite into more than 100 countries with configurable tax compliance, support for 20 languages and 190 currencies

Partner Enablement: Launched several enablement programs including the Vertical Velocity Program, Partner Lead Nurturing Program, and Website Performance Assessment Program.


Judy Kent

Director, Channel Marketing

At PernixData, we continue to build out our PernixPrime technical certifications program. The program is a great way for PernixData to arm the channel with FVP technical experts, while rewarding individuals who have gone the extra mile to learn the inner workings of PernixData's software. Given our 100% commitment to the channel, our partners are a strategic extension of our company, and PernixPrime is the perfect way for us to educate, energize and reward the technical resources at these companies who are the lynchpin for our global success.


Toni Adams

SVP, Partners, Alliances

1. Over the past year, Qlik has significantly expanded its product set available for partners to resell.

2. Further expansion of our Partner Enablement offerings, including significant investments into a Continuous Classroom and automated Sales Tools.

3. Enhancements to the Qlik Partner Program focused on simplifying the Partner Program and delivering more consistently across partner types. This further included investments in providing partners more incentives to drive partner profitability.

4. Expanded Partner Marketing programs, including an increased set of marketing campaigns and an additional focus on Partner Communications and Loyalty.


Clint Oram

Co-Founder, CTO

Renewal Compensation: In 2015, we worked collaboratively with the partner community to introduce, based on direct partner feedback, a new renewal compensation model.

Channel Education and Certification: We made extensive investments in partner training and certification and have handed out 1,000 sales and technical certifications in 2015.

Partner Award Program: For the past six years, SugarCRM has recognized the leadership and achievements of its partner community.

Channel-friendly programs: SugarCRM pays its sales people the same commission, whether the deal is closed directly or via a partner. This eliminates any potential "channel conflict." We also pay margins on renewals.

Tripp Lite

Bob Nahorski

Executive VP, U.S. Channel Sales

1. Increased personnel dedicated to building solution sales in the channel. Tripp Lite now has more sales engineers, application specialists and more positions in channel field sales and channel inside sales.

2. Bid and deal registration made it easier and more profitable for channel partners to quote Tripp Lite, win deals, and increase solution sales.

3. Enhanced our national account desk, which provides, among other things, white glove service to top-tier accounts.

4. Expanded our new partner program that includes partner-specific web portals.

Veritas Technologies

Mark Nutt

SVP, Global Channels

1. Investing significantly in our partner program: Increased predictability and profitability through Growth Accelerator Rebate enhancements and increased Opportunity Registration cap from $500k to $1M to help partners win bigger.

2. Investing in people: Created focused channel-facing and sales teams, with about 2,000 Veritas salespeople now working with the channel. Further developed tech sales and support

3. Investing in marketing: Introduced partner-focused sales playbooks and collateral market insight tools and processes to make future business easier.


Geoff Waters

VP, Service Provider Channel

Established a Cloud Practice Organization to help service providers. We added a new Premier Support benefit at no cost for our top tier service provider partners. We launched the MSP program, allowing our cloud partners to own the TOS on top of vCloud Air.


Malissa King

Sr. Director, Sales, Channels

In 2015, our key investment centered on creating the Xirrus' Xcellerate Partner Program and new portal infrastructure. Within this program, we implemented Xirrus University, an online computer based training that offers certified sales and technical programs. We also invested in a Lead Qualification Program to help garner more opportunities for our partners while still giving them larger margins. This program allows the partners access to Xirrus' internal sales team to help generate leads and use their expertise as a resource.

Xirrus also invested in media awareness campaigns and more public relations activities for the business.