Siemens Targets Cisco, Nortel with Channel Plan

By Jennifer Lawinski  |  Print this article Print

Siemens Enterprise Communications channel chief Patrick Kehoe says he has fixed the bugs in the company's channel program and is going after market share from companies like Cisco and Nortel.

Siemens Enterprise Communications may not be a household name, but the vendor is hoping its burgeoning channel program and its partner-driven move into the North American market will help it become one as it seeks to steal market share from vendors like Cisco and Nortel.

In the four years since Siemens launched its North American channel operations, the unified communications company has not had an easy road, and channel executives say the company has been making strides to repair its relationships with partners and clearly define its go-to-market strategy.

In its first years, the program suffered from missteps and miscommunications, leaving partners with a bad taste in their mouths, Patrick Kehoe, SVP of Indirect Business, told Channel Insider.

"It's been a four year journey for us and I think I few had to do it all over again, I think we would have done some of the things we've put in place in the past year sooner," said Kehoe, who joined the company in the summer of 2010.

Patrick KehoeEarly feedback from partners told him that the company's go-to-market strategy with partners was murky, with relationships and roles ill-defined. VARs hesitated to invest in business with Siemens because they didn't feel comfortable. It was "not exactly what you want to hear from a potential or a current business partner," Kehoe said. "At the core of it was a lack of trust that I think ultimately in many cases was holding back the type of commitment we would like our partners to make in our business."

Part of making the company's North American operations more channel-friendly, Kehoe said, was revamping the direct sales force and go-to-market strategy. Siemens looked practically at its sales organization and determined that there were a focused, narrow set of customers that it would continue to sell to directly. "We aligned our direct resources squarely on those organizations… and on most cases we were pulling in a partner who has complimentary capabilities," he said.

Explicitly stating which customers the direct force would work with and where partner would have opportunity with "named accounts," has helped ease conflict and give partners more confidence in their relationships with Siemens, he said.

"The complement to that is that we've been very clear that the entire SMB market as well as the non-named account market is the domain of partners," Kehoe said.

In addition to deal registration, which Siemens launched early in 2011, the company developed a structured channel program that would compensate partners based on the role they played in a deal. The company has also launched products like its OpenScape Office and OpenScape Cloud for partners, in addition to creating training and certification resources.