You know a company is serious about building better relations with its partner ecosystem when they appoint a Director of Global Channel Engagement. For the record, Armor, a global cloud security company for managed service providers (MSPs), didn’t post a position with that exact title. But when Christine Gassman clearly demonstrated that she was the right person for the not-quite-named position, she and Armor agreed that a Director of Global Channel Engagement was exactly what the company was looking for.
Not long after CMR reported that Gassman joined the company, we sat down with the industry veteran to learn more about what her new title might suggest about the ambitions of the Armor partner program.
CMR – As far as I know, not a lot of people have business cards identifying them as the Director of Global Channel Engagement. Are there other colleagues or people in the field that you know who have that title?
Christine Gassman – Short answer is, no, not really. In my role within my last organization, I was involved and responsible for so much as our team continued to grow, my title became more and more detailed. As my role continued to evolve, and as my team continued to evolve within the organization, I realized I didn’t have a title that did justice to what I did.
CMR – As you were talking to Armor, did the company understand how important it was to have someone on their team with a title like yours?
Christine Gassman – The team at Armor got it. They knew what they were looking for. But together we evolved the message of what this role will do. The way that I look at it, and the way I explain it is this — I sit between sales and marketing. So we’re working with a sales team to bring on new Managed Service Providers, support those Managed Service Providers, and engage with those Managed Service Providers.
CMR – Let’s talk about engagement and what that means to you.
Christine Gassman – I keep coming back to the word engage, but it’s really about getting to know them, form that partnership and support them in their efforts. One thing that we will be doing is getting to know our partners better. We’re continuing to improve the onboarding process, but we also need to know who these partners are once they come on board. Who are they selling to? What verticals are they selling to? What are their pain points? What are their customers pain points? And really profile them so we can have those individualized marketing materials for them.
CMR – Is there one principal that is critical to driving engagement with MSP?
Christine Gassman – Consistency. As soon as I came on board, even before I joined the organization, our events team had a plan of the live events that they were going to be doing to introduce Armor, face to face, to the MSP community. And that’s really important. We need to establish ourselves as an organization that is supporting managed service providers. We can’t come to an event one month and wait another three months to go to another event. We need consistency and we need to establish the fact that Armor really is focused on the MSP community. And we’ll be everywhere. We’re going to try to be everywhere that they’re going to be.
CMR – I would imagine that a resurgent Covid could raise new obstacles to in-person meeting. What are some of the other ways you’ll stay top of mind with MSPs?
Christine Gassman – We do have regular communications that go out. We’re in the process of creating a specific MSP newsletter, as one of the efforts we’re making, to increase communication.
CMR – Channel marketing is our favorite topic. Does working with MSPs have unique challenges, especially with regards to marketing?
Christine Gassman – I think we just need to make it as easy as possible for them. That’s my go-to suggestion anytime. We’ve got these resources created in the partner portal. All the partners have to do is make one slight edit, put their logo on it, change the messaging if they want it, and then they’ve got a material marketing collateral ready to go.
But we’re also working with MSPs that might not have a dedicated marketing person. It might be the business owner, who’s doing the sales and marketing efforts, or we’ll have MSPs that might have 50-plus employees and have a solid marketing team.
So we want to make sure that we have very good foundation for our marketing support. We want to make sure that we have those materials in place and those resources that the small, few-employee MSP that doesn’t have a dedicated marketing person, can easily take advantage of those resources.
CMR – To achieve that are you building from scratch or were you able to hit the ground running when you got to Armor?
Christine Gassman – One of the things that I was so impressed about with Armor in interviewing and evaluating this role was the amount of support they were providing to their existing channel partners. The partner marketing team does a phenomenal job with market development funds. And they were really helping those partners not just with funding, but the resources behind it. The planning of events, the marketing material, collateral, creative, all that good stuff.
We’ve got a partner portal already well established that has a ton of great resources, a great repository of marketing materials that MSPs can use today.
CRM – What is the status of the MSP program?
Christine Gassman – We’re relaunching a MSP-specific Partner Program, taking a lot of what we’re already providing to our current channel partners but making it specific to MSPs. But we need to make sure that we’re not just checking the boxes. We’re not just putting in all the expected things, like MDF. So one of the things that we’re evaluating is how can we have a direct impact on our partners growing in general. Is that peer groups that might give them access to a peer group consulting service?
We’re evaluating many things to really drive value through our partner program.