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Ask the Expert, Jim DeSocio, Relayware Chief Revenue Officer

The first challenge is finding the right partners. But then the challenge continues. Next, you need to onboard, train and certify those partners.

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Ask the Expert, Jim DeSocio, Relayware Chief Revenue Officer

On Channel Sales

Question: You were previously the head of a successful channel program. Tell me about your experience overseeing channel sales.

DeSocio: From 1999 to 2004 I was the executive vice president of global field operations at Lawson Software, which was a $428 million company. Under my leadership, we launched a channel program, and grew it to be 10% of the company’s total revenue.

Launching a channel sales program was an important strategic move for Lawson. It allowed us to both go wide and go deep. We signed up partners who were experts in very specific verticals, such as healthcare, retail and financial services. And we signed up partners all over the world, which enabled us to expand our territory.

Channel sales was an important aspect of Lawson Software’s success.

Question: In that role, what was the biggest challenge growing channel sales?

DeSocio: Well, the first challenge is finding the right partners. But then the challenge continues. Next, you need to onboard, train and certify those partners. Any time, a company is selling a complex product, it’s essential to have a really strong program that trains and certifies partners. These are all very rewarding aspects of channel program, but if you don’t have the right systems in place, they drain channel management resources.

One key to successfully tackling the challenge of onboarding is to make it an ongoing part of your channel program. Onboarding shouldn’t just focus on new partner organizations that a vendor signs up. There are constantly new partner professionals, and a company’s channel partner onboarding program should be continuous. As part of this, the partner business plan should be shared with new partner professionals, so they understand the goals and objectives of the vendor-partner relationship.

Question: What’s changed in channel sales management?

DeSocio: Today, there’s awareness that channel sales impacts revenue growth, and at an earlier stage in company development, companies today recognize that they have to invest in channel sales in order to make it successful.

Historically, partner relationship management software was seen as a back-office system, but now the emphasis is on revenue growth in the channel, especially in high growth companies. These forward-thinking companies are seeing the results.

Question: As Relayware’s chief revenue officer, who are you having conversations with?

DeSocio: Relayware’s solutions serve both enterprise companies, like Lenovo, as well as hot, high-growth companies, like Adaptive Insights. Regardless of the size of the company, I’m having active conversations with heads of channel marketing, head of channel sales, heads of sales and CFOs.

Question: That’s a wide range of professionals, with many different responsibilities. What’s the common thread for each of these professionals?

DeSocio: There’s one major common denominator in every conversation I have. They are all chasing a revenue number, and their goal is to help increase company revenue.

When I talk to a CFO, that person is thinking about guaranteeing and forecasting company revenue, so I show how Relayware’s solutions shines a light on channel sales and grows that revenue.

When I’m talking to a head of sales, that person is also responsible for revenue – both direct and indirect, and again, I showcase how Relayware illuminates and heightens channel sales.

Naturally, the head of channel sales is hyper focused on the channel, but that person is also thinking about channel partner recruitment, onboarding, training and certifying partners. It’s expensive to train, certify and go to market with partners, so it’s critical that they create relationships with the right partners and can then get up and running ASAP. Our customer Lenovo reported a 50% increase in their channel partners’ first year revenues when these partners completed the automated on-boarding process through Relayware versus partners who did not.

The head of channel marketing shares these same concerns, and additionally is aware of the complexities involved in channel marketing.

Question: What do you see in the future of channel sales?

DeSocio: In every conversation we have, we hear customers and prospects with an eye toward channel analytics. In the next couple of years, partner performance management will be instrumental not only in just channel sales performance but in successful company growth.

Question: What is the profile of companies that succeed with channel sales?

DeSocio: The companies that see partner relationship management as just an operations system don’t get it. They are simply treading water.

The companies who see PRM software as a mission-critical aspect of their strategy are growing exponentially faster than everyone else.


Check out our webinar "Boost Partner Engagement to Accelerate Channel Sales." Click here and enjoy watching.