Polycom’s New NA Channel Chief Hints at Program Improvements

Polycom's Dan Sibille
Polycom Inc. is filling out its channel partner program with the appointment of a new executive as the company continues to rebrand itself as a provider of unified communications (UC), not just a video conferencing technology.

Dan Sibille joined Polycom in November as the new vice president of North America channels. He came from LifeSize Communications, a division of Logitech, where he led the Americas channel strategy, and developed and launched the company’s global channel program. Prior to LifeSize, Sibille held channel and sales leadership roles at companies such as Extreme Networks, Internet Security Systems and 3Com Corp. He has worked in sales, primarily in the channel, for more than 27 years.

In his new role, Sibille manages all aspects of Polycom’s partner development, particularly with resellers, solution providers, distribution, call control vendors and regional system integrators in Canada and the United States. He reports to David Ruggiero, theater president of North America, and also works alongside Ron Myers, senior vice president of worldwide channels. Sibille’s appointment freed Myers to concentrate on worldwide channels, since he had been juggling both jobs.

“We’re always trying to improve the partner program,” Sibille said. One of the ways Polycom will do that in 2012 is by classifying its partners by segment “so they can focus on best practices and target markets.” All of the training will take that into consideration as well, aligning certifications with vertical markets such as health care and education. As for the segments and other specifics, Sibille wasn’t ready to provide details during an interview in mid-November, about three weeks after his official hire date. However, he said, the approach will speak to a variety of partners, many of whom have so far stuck with one or two areas of expertise, such as data or video.

Meanwhile, Sibille doesn’t predict much change in core requirements for Polycom partners. Annual certification is a must for various levels and that will continue, as will revenue quotas. The latter tend to be based on a partner’s individual metrics, such as length of time with Polycom and growth to date. “Brand-new partner revenue is less important initially,” Sibille said. “It’s most important to get certified and make investments in demo gear. If they become proficient, the byproduct of that will be success.”

On a similar note, Polycom is evaluating how it pays partners and how it discounts the products it sells to them. “We’re taking a look at all of those things to make sure we’re compelling and competitive but … I don’t think there will be any major changes,” said Sibille.

Sibille further will track partner numbers in North America and decide when and where to add to the roster. Right now, Polycom’s North America channel boasts 4,000 partners. So, while Sibille doesn’t want to oversaturate any one market, he does want solid coverage as Polycom brands itself as a one-stop UC shop. The key is to make sure resellers and dealers are on board with that mission. “We want to ensure the partners we’re picking are making as equal an investment in us as we are in them,” Sibille said. For Polycom, that means partners buy demo gear (“It’s difficult to sell video without showing it,” said Sibille), earn certifications and stay current on training.

All of the ramped-up intensity comes as Polycom branches out as a UC name and partners with seeming rivals. For example, Microsoft Corp. in 2011 named Polycom a Partner of the Year for UC innovation. And several of Polycom’s devices, from video cameras and servers to IP phones and conferencing phones, are certified to work with Microsoft’s UC platform, Lync. Polycom has a similar alliance with IBM. “It’s not competitive, it’s collaborative,” Andy Miller, president and CEO of Polycom, told attendees at the ScanSource Communications partner conference in October. That’s because Microsoft partners aren’t selling the Polycom technology, just the Lync platform, he said. That way, Polycom partners still have their market share and Polycom itself gets in on UC demand. “We are trying to vastly differentiate ourselves in UC,” said Miller.

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