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.