Q&A: 8x8 Channel Chief Don Trimble

By Kelly Teal Comments
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8x8 Inc. has named Don Trimble as its new vice president of channel sales. The IP services and managed hosting provider is putting fresh emphasis on its channel, which remains small. Trimble, who has worked in the telecom channel sector for about 25 years, is tasked with developing 8x8's indirect strategy. He reports to Kim Niederman, senior vice president of worldwide sales, who also recently joined 8x8.

Trimble comes to the job with experience in the channel divisions for NComputing, Hewlett-Packard, Polycom Inc., Cisco Systems Inc. and 3Com Corp. He boasts "extensive" experience building channel programs from the ground up, he told Channel Partners in early March. 8x8, Trimble said, will offer resellers an "attractive, low barrier to entry" as those partners seek to boost their revenue with cloud-based communications services.

8x8's Don TrimbleChannel Partners: How will 8x8’s SaaS model work for partners?

Don Trimble: We’re trying to combine the margins the channel would normally make on hardware with annuity revenue. We’re going to launch that in probably 60-90 days. The key to the channels is minimal installation effort. We provision everything, and the channel can concentrate on selling and retaining the customer.

CP: Given your channel background, what tools would you like to have 8x8 provide to help achieve that goal?

DT: I am a firm believer in keeping things as simple as possible from a program benefit (discounts, rebates, etc.) and ordering perspective so that partners know exactly what they are getting and what they need to do to get it. One of the tools I would like to implement to facilitate the ordering process is a Web-based agent portal where partners can log on to quote and order our products and services.

How many partners does 8x8 have and how would you like that to change this year?

DT: While we have very few partners today, we are planning to ramp that quickly over the course of the year to help us extend our reach and move up market. We’re going to launch a complete new channel program for resellers who concentrate on the SME market. That will supplement our existing referral program.

What’s special about the SME market that interests 8x8 now?

DT: The SME and distributed enterprise markets (i.e., multiple offices of under 25 people) are the “sweet spot" for 8x8, as those types of businesses do not want to incur the expense of buying, installing and maintaining on-site communications equipment, so a hosted/managed solution fits their needs perfectly.

How will your experience help the company and partners target the SME market?

DT: Throughout my career, my primary focus has been on the SME market, as it is much more cost effective for a company to utilize existing resellers to penetrate and grow this market versus doing it themselves. The channel program and reseller profile I'll be managing at 8x8 will be designed to focus on those partners that live in the SME market.

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