An increasing number of organizations are striving to include added services and benefits to their hardware and software offerings. However, in addition to developing a consistent revenue model for all channel players, it is imperative that partners are equipped and empowered to sell all products and services to get maximum value from new opportunities.
In the following interview, Jim Hare, SVP of Sales at FieldOne, discusses how the company is growing its channel program, and is developing ongoing communication and engagement with partners.
Channel Marketer Report (CMR): Jim, you’ve been recognized for your experience in the channel. What changes and trends are you seeing? Are there any consistent pain points you’re recognizing, not only at FieldOne, but in other organizations?
The key to success for any channel partner is a repeatable business model. Accounting firms learned this long ago. Just selling hardware or software is a failing proposition; even providing services is a tough struggle today. One way to address this was Managed Services. This was very hot in the early 2000s, but since everyone now offers some kind of managed services it has also become commoditized. So, the key is to find high-value, recurring revenue services, such as field service automation, to be competitive and increase company valuations.
CMR: Can you provide a brief history of FieldOne and an overview of the solutions your company provides?
FieldOne began in 2012, when we built and released a new product called SKY, which is built on the Microsoft CRM/XRM platform. SKY is a service management platform designed to provide field service companies with powerful tools to streamline their business processes. From real-time mobility across every major device, to automated routing and end-to-end workflow management, FieldOne goes beyond scheduling and dispatching, and helps to provide a holistic approach to achieving strategic business objectives.
The cloud-based solution is built on the Microsoft Dynamics Platform, so multi-language, multi-currency and time zone support is out of the box. In addition, utilizing the Microsoft platform provides a wide range of third-party plug-and-play extensions, as well as scalability and simple integration points.
CMR: How does FieldOne tap channel partners to drive sales and overall market penetration?
Our primary use of the channel has been to assist us with implementation, as target partners have deep Microsoft Dynamics expertise, and experience with integration into other third-party applications. As we continue to add partners to our network, we are driving incremental business from these customers and with our joint marketing efforts, mutually identifying new customers.
CMR: What makes FieldOne’s approach to the channel different from others? What role does your company have in your partners’ sales and marketing activities?
Hare: We look at channel partners as an extension of our team, not an alternative sales channel. We qualify all leads and make sure we engage partners with fully-qualified opportunities, not just “suspects.” We engage with our partners early in the process and work with them to provide ongoing support. We also offer free training and access to our systems at no charge.
CMR: What forms of marketing and sales training, education and collateral do you provide to partners across the channel?
Hare: At FieldOne, we offer partners extensive materials and training, and aim to constantly communicate with them to ensure marketing and sales strategies are up to par. We have dedicated partner relationship managers and consistently hold webinars and interactive account sessions. We offer joint marketing programs that provide expertise and support, co-branding, and the opportunity for fund matching. All marketing collateral created by FieldOne is shared with partners, so they can rebrand assets and disseminate them to current and prospective customers.
CMR: What sales and marketing enablement methods are you focusing on this year?
Hare: We have a wide range of activities in the pipeline to further support our partners. These strategies range from webinar series, to interactive, web-based sales and marketing training, technical training sessions, and even on-site meetings for large partners.
CMR: Will you be seeking new partners during 2013?
Hare: We will continue to look for selective partnerships throughout worldwide in the coming year and beyond. In the first half of the year, we will focus on North America through and have a major push for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). We have a formal onboarding process with all partners to ensure they are equipped for sales and marketing excellence.