Sergey Nivens - Fotolia
When Commvault's channel chief talked about increasing the support it wanted to offer resellers as one of his main aims after taking up the job there might have been some who thought that the usual cliches about helping partners were being reeled off.
But in the ten months since there has been real change at the data management specialist. Its ambitions to put the channel more at the centre have had a profound effect on both its partnership strategy and internal sales approach.
Owen Taraniuk, Commvault’s head of worldwide partnerships and market development, was given the channel role at the end of January and straight away talked about this being a year of partner investment.
In an update on the progress made in 2018 there can be few doubts that Taraniuk meant what he said back at the start of the year.
One of the major tasks was to change the internal sales structure and move rewards around working with partners. The firm has drawn up rules of engagements and made it clear that those sales reps who do not adhere to it will not be rewarded.
"Our customer approach had been somewhat hybrid because we had so many sales people in the field working alongside our partners and we were looking to become a partner driven organisation and the approach we were going to take to that was by migrating a lot of our people and their goaling and their role structures to being partner focused and partner facing," he said.
There has been progress on that ambition, with more than 65% of the company are now in partner facing roles. There has also been more recruitment of executives in channel roles, with a head of cloud and service provider and distribution strategy as the next couple of posts that will be announced.
The next step was to make life easier for partners by reducing some of the complexity, with the number of SKUs going down from 10 plus to just four as a main example.
The partner programme was revised to make it easier and clearer how to gain business development funds and the firm launched its Partner Success Desk, which has been designed to support resellers with a specific help desk that can speed up quotes and answer queries.
"We were looking to realign a lot of the resources as a corporation into direct supporting roles for the partners and embarking on a range of measures to simplify and reduce the complexity of Commvault and that shift we wanted to make from being a company that wanted people to sell Commvault to being a company that provided all sorts of value where it made sense for people to utilise Commvault to help their core selling motions, so it would add value," said Taraniuk.
That desire to be seen as part of a wider solution has been one of the main challenges because it has involved adapting a mindset around how Commvault sells itself. The focus now is on being a key plank in a larger solution sale, rather than putting all the emphasis on a point product sale.
"It may have been previously about trying to convince a customer or a partner to sell Commvault. I have never seen that as out value proposition. The value is there for the customer but when we are engaging more broadly with our customers it has to be about how we augment what they are doing, how do we create momentum, velocity and longevity in the account? How do we create margin? And how do we do that by aligning to the partner's core selling proposition?" he asked.
Commvault has alliances with the likes of HPE, NetApp and Cisco and as a result has been able to get its products into the hands of a much wider channel base.
"We see Commvault having the potential to be a common thread and an architectured layer," said Taraniuk, who added that the opportunity around data management was a significant one for the channel.
With his one year anniversary looming there is still work to do and partners can expect 2019 to involve Commvault talking more about its X as a Service approach as it continues to react to market changes.
A term report card on the progress made so far would be a positive one and in its last earnings announcement the CEO commented that it had never seen the rate or size of the pipeline growth with partners that it was currently enjoying.