Unify’s New Channel Chief: ‘We’re Pretty Much Going to Stop Selling Direct’

By Kelly Teal Comments
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“What we have to define is, and this is still a work in progress, is where is it appropriate for us to sell directly," said Pritchard. “The easy one, our SMB product, should only be sold by our partner community."

Pritchard explained that, a couple of years ago, Unify’s leaders decided not to go to market with its SMB portfolio in the United States, “which, in hindsight, was possibly not the greatest decision to make so we’re going to be looking to reintroduce the SMB portfolio [here]." Unify’s products for SMBs include the OpenScape platform; in fact, Unify just released the new OpenScape Business X1 appliance, which provides an all-in-one platform for up to 30 seats, to its U.S. channel partners. But there will be more to Unify’s partner-engagement strategy.

“[A]s you move up the food chain, the rules of engagement should be if we have a partner involved in the opportunity," Pritchard said. “And if it enhances our proposition, we should be looking to partner up, and we do that already."

Pritchard added that Unify has been down the road of better partner engagement in the past, to little improvement; this time, though, the renovations are for real.

“The most important thing, I think, is the fact that Unify has talked about doing this many times before, becoming more partner-centric, but didn’t achieve that because it didn’t have executive engagement, executive sponsorship," Pritchard said. “Dean absolutely understands why we need to do it. … This is a very, very significant, serious change, which we will make happen."

Meanwhile, Pritchard and his team continue to tackle a refresh of the certification program, as well. Unify has a curriculum, but it needs to address the right markets and be affordable, said Pritchard.

“In a way we’ve been a very typical European engineering company – very black-and-white, trying to be very perfect – and we’ve missed the mark slightly, but we’re going to change that," Pritchard said.  

Look for the certification update to come in late summer.

Overall, Unify’s intent to tighten its channel approach falls alongside the company’s goal of driving 45 percent or so of its business through partners within 18 months. Right now the figure stands at less than 25 percent. And yet, Unify won’t get there unless it makes itself more appealing to resellers, integrators and other channel salespeople. Pritchard’s keen on making that happen.

“We’re pretty much going to stop selling direct, selling in a partner-centric model, so we are making sure our programs are global and ready to support that."

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