These are truly exciting times! I had the pleasure over the past three weeks to begin kicking off Brocade’s new channel strategy at our first combined channel partner summits. In Europe we hosted close to 100 partners in beautiful Nice, France and in North America close to 200 partners in ‘beautiful’ Vegas. My team gave me a real run for the money setting up numerous 1-on-1 partner meetings which provided an outstanding opportunity to get direct feedback from partners and learn what their pain points are to ensure that we tune our channel program and strategy to perfection.
General feedback from channel partners is that they are sick and tired of being driven down the low single-digit margin path and at the same time being asked to massively invest in a vendor partnership. The great news here is that what we at Brocade are designing and launching in June is a program that is going to be all about “Quality of Partnership,” focusing on bringing profitability to the partner, and actually investing from our side in partner certification rather than grabbing into partners’ pockets. The feedback we received from partners was outstanding.
It’s all about honesty and trust in partnership. What became more than clear in a number of the discussions during the summits was that above all partners want to have trust in a partnership. Business partnerships in the channel are planned to be long term, mutually profitable relationships. A good channel partner looks at a vendor’s product portfolio and vision as much as they look at the vendor’s partnership model.
We really scored points and checked all the boxes on what partners wanted to hear:
We came in with a truly open approach, actually asking partners to provide us with input regarding what they need and want to see rather than us just telling them what they will get – check
We had a very candid conversation regarding what is and what is not in place today - i.e., what they will get today and what's on the horizon – check
We confirmed that all of the existing partnerships Foundry brought in will be treated well and honored – no matter what size of business they run - rather than just cleaning up and dishonoring the years of partnership they bring to the table - check
It’s all about quality of program. When the team and I sat for days in our meeting rooms in San Jose brainstorming on program components and what we want to provide our partners, we focused intensely on bringing real quality to the program. We crunched out a real easy to understand, tiered program whereby partners derive benefits that align exactly with what they bring to the table. “Quid pro Quo: channel partners will get their investments back.” We got enthusiastic thumbs up that we are on the right path.
It’s all about delivery. The next big thing is going to be delivering on the promises. Partners see a lot of slideware outlining the good things vendors want to do for them; ultimately, ‘the proof of the pudding lies in the eating’ as the English would say. Brocade will ensure to smother channel partners with our benefits and drive up the coverage so that they will truly enjoy a mutually rewarding relationship with Brocade.
Brocade is putting a lot of investment and focus behind our channel program execution as execution is ultimately what we will be measured on by our partners and what will determine how fast we can ramp and expand the program.
Bottom line: It’s all about channels. I hear you, partners.