Siemens Communications Overhauls Channel, Appoints New Chief

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Siemens Enterprise Communications names Denzil Samuels new head of worldwide channels and overhauls its sales and channel structure to optimize the company to take on Cisco and Avaya in North America.

When it comes to networking and unified communications, most people think of Cisco Systems and Avaya—two companies that dominate the North America market. Microsoft and Google get lumped in there, too, because they seem to have a hand in every technology grouping. And Hewlett-Packard may soon have a place in this category with its acquisition of 3Com.

Not often thought of in unified communications—at least in North America—is Siemens Enterprise Communications (which goes by the short-script "The SEN Group"), a subsidiary of the German conglomerate Siemens AG. Overseas, Siemens is a market leader in voice and data networking. In the United States, it plays in the shadows of Cisco and Avaya.

Denzil Samuels, the new global channel chief at the SEN Group, believes the channel is the best route for the company to take in building out its U.S. and Canadian presence, and capture more market share from rivals.

The company broke off from Siemens corporate a year ago as a joint venture with The Gores Group. SEC has been restructuring to reduce operating costs and optimize operations to make it more competitive. The addition of companies such as Enterasys to its portfolio has given it the resources and solutions needed to reach a broader portfolio of customers. And its open software platform means that it can integrate with virtually any existing unified communications system.

What’s been lacking, Samuels said during a recent visit to the Channel Insider office, is a cultural shift that makes selling indirectly through the channel a priority and imperative. Mark Vayda, the company’s president of worldwide sales, said earlier this year that the channel would be the priority, and the company is pointing to Samuels’ appointment to the global channel chief post and the creation of a worldwide channel organization as a commitment to working with partners and developing a robust channel system.

Samuels recounted for Channel Insider several of the changes The SEN Group has made over the last several months to ensure a channel-centric approach. They are:

  • Changed inside sales compensation plans to go beyond spiffs and bonuses on channels sales; all sales reps now carry a number of the amount of sales that must go through channel partners. On average, inside sales must push 20 percent to 50 percent of their business through partners.

  • Sales reps will not qualify for bonuses, commission accelerators or President’s Club rewards if they do not make their channel quota.

  • Created a SKU system for products and services, making it easier for solution providers to order and sell SEN products (amazingly, this didn’t exist before).

  • Created deal registration so net-new opportunities uncovered by partners are protected.

  • Built and deployed a centralized ordering tool for solution provider use.

  • Established distribution relationships with Synnex (U.S.) and Westcon (EMEA).

  • Created a solutions lab, where partners can test their use of SEN products before going to market or delivering to customers. 

  • Formed a partner advisory board to get direct feedback on programs, technology and business operations.

  • Created subscription-based pricing for bundled hardware, software and services solutions (this makes for easier and faster selling, partners tell Samuels).

Samuels says the SEN Group channel program is still a work in progress, and the company still needs to improve some products so they scale in SMB environments. But he’s confident the changes made over the last several months to the program and internal culture will result in significant benefits to existing and future channel partners. Ultimately, solid execution on this channel strategy will lead SEN to greater success in the North America market, he says.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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