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Considerations on a European channel strategy

Brad Parks, VP of business development at Morpheus Data, shares some of the thoughts that go through then mind of a vendor looking at increasing European channel coverage

Success in any industry starts with helping customers solving their most critical issues.  In the case of Multi-Cloud Orchestration, the vast majority of customers have a stated cloud-first and multi-cloud strategy yet only 9% of European organizations are considered multi-cloud ready according to IDC with most (around 80%) being stuck in the transition process.  This means plenty of opportunity for partners to deliver real value to their clients.

Having spent a majority of my professional career on the Vendor side of the equation both in established technology markets and emerging spaces I’ve come to appreciate the role of the channel and even more so the success of that model in Europe.

In the United States, distribution and resale in the Enterprise tends to be dominated by a small handful of players including vendors themselves who manage direct sale relationships with their Global Accounts.  Europe on the other hand by virtue of geographic and linguistic diversity has had to develop a robust network of partners fluent in the relationships, regulations, and regional specifics of local customers. 

So, with a hot market and world class channel partners the burden is us as vendors to not screw up what would otherwise be a winning formula. 

 

People matter

It’s been said in a million different ways that people are a business’s most important asset and in the case of building out a European channel it’s critical.  Particularly for organizations not natively based in EMEA, the regional team is your face with local contacts and you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

Morpheus was blessed to find a team that not only fit our scrappy startup culture but one that had successfully landed and expanded new offerings previously.  While as a technology offering our product is special, the specific challenges faced in entering a new market are not.  By leveraging the lessons learned by those who came before we’ve been able to make the right connections with technical alliances, distribution, and others to accelerate our EMEA growth.

I’ve found that many regional EMEA business units develop a technical depth and operational rigor that is second to none because they are so often decoupled from headquarters based elsewhere.  Get the right people on your team with the right relationships and experience and the sky’s the limit.

 

Communication matters

Like any relationship, communication is key but particularly when working across time zones and geography it’s one of the most critical components.  Communication from global teams to regional teams to distribution and channel partners can be like the game of telephone if you are not careful.  Managing the value chain and information flow for consistency and precision is important to maintain the fidelity of processes and sales plays.

This processes worked when managing a multi-billion euro business at HPE and it’s becoming a stable now that I’m back in startup life.  Our goal is to be completely transparent with our partners when it comes to opportunity identification, product introductions, and roadmap planning.    I’ve seen many launch efforts die on the vine due to mistrust and secrecy on the part of vendor product management teams.   We’re working with partners early and providing open access to information to help hit the ground running after new capabilities come out.  This approach also assures we work through local challenges before they become major problems.

 

Execution matters

Do what you say and say what you mean.  Consistently delivering on promises to channel teams, sticking with engagement rules, and honoring key delivery dates helps build trust.  And Trust at the end of the day is what channel relationships are all about.  This includes the trust between vendor and partner as well as between partners and customers.

I’ve seen others unfortunately take their channel for granted and end up being displaced by competitors and startups who are easier to do business with and are more forward thinking.   As we expand our EMEA footprint we are focused on being on the right side of that equation.  There is no excuse for introducing friction to the process or getting in the way of helping partners grow revenue. 

Our focus is on the ongoing success of those who’ve helped us break into some of the largest accounts in region and to avoid being displaced by those who are hot on our heels.   One of the best parts of Morpheus is that we integrate with over 75 other ISVs, cloud providers, and infrastructure APIs.  This means we’re the ultimate ‘glue’ to help partners pull together their line card.  This strategy not only helps us grow partner revenue with Morpheus but gives them a tool to provide more value from other products they’ve introduced at customer accounts.

Many of us have seen traditional vendors falter due to poor leadership, communication gaps, and execution issues.  These are just a few thoughts that jump to mind and are equally transferable to both startups building a channel as well as traditional players working to stay on top.

 

 

This was last published in June 2018

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