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New Pax8 Channel Exec to Advance Partner Expansion

Lynn HaberAt the top of Pax8’s agenda for 2017 is doubling the number of partners the value-added cloud distributor does business with and doubling the number of employees at the organization. That’s just some of the focus Pax8 is putting on its partner relationships with its new hire – Jennifer Bodell – who joined Pax8 as director of emerging channel this week.

We caught up with Pax8 executives Bodell; Ryan Walsh, senior vice president, partner solutions; and Jeremy Yoder, vice president, marketing, to talk about cloud distribution, how Pax8 differentiates itself from other distributors that offer value-added cloud distribution and cloud marketplaces, and why partners should be interested in doing business with Pax8, founded in 2012.

Pax8's Jennifer BodellAccording to Walsh, Pax8 was born out of the need to build a new way to distribute cloud services.

“What we’re getting a lot of attention around is what it really means to help transition a channel partner to the cloud. It means not just dealing with how you order something; it needs to cover quote to cash … [it means] helping a partner market and sell cloud services because it’s different than on-premises technology,” he said.

CP: Tell us about Pax8 and current partners.

Walsh: Pax8 has about 1,000 partners and is bringing on an average of 50 per month — and we see that number increasing with the help of Jen [Jennifer Bodell]. Partners are a mix of system integrators, VARs and MSPs. Managed service provider is the most dominant description of these providers as outsourced IT. We serve a large share of those MSPs who support the small and medium-size (SMB) business market. As a result, they tend to be regionally focused so they may have geographic territory in a tier-II city; we also deal with national MSPs who have reach across the country, multiple offices, and we also do business with national resellers as well who have access to thousands of SMBs who have historically purchased on-premises technology and now want cloud.{ad}

CP: Director of emerging channel is a new role at Pax8. You want to tell us more about it, Jennifer?

Bodell: Yes, it is a new role. In my current role, I work with the sales and marketing teams to strategize and go over our go-to-market efforts, growth patterns for our current partnerships and future partners, and really enable that end-to-end relationship with our partners to really help them grow their cloud-solutions business.

Pax8's Ryan WalshI’ll be the face of Pax8 at our community groups, and at organizations like The ASCII Group, Robin Robins, CompTIA and HTG. [I’ll] engage more with those SMB partners, listen to them, and build relationships based on what they need from distribution and [make] those resources available to our partners.

CP:What type of resources does Pax8 offer partners?

Bodell: With our Pax8 Cloud Wingman partner program, we offer sales on demand. We have some exciting changes with our marketing on demand with single sign on — a marketplace with our command console where a partner can …

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… quote, build and provision all within that one screen. We’re also on the street talking with our partners as an extension of a partner’s team, helping them identify new customers, helping them drive new business and helping them add value to their current client list. And, we’ll be adding additional resources that our partners are looking for.

Walsh: We have an internal marketing team that’s got content marketing, product marketing [and] creative design constantly looking to help teach partners about a new product. They work with our vendors and take information from them — and it’s just not a pass-through to partners, because that doesn’t help them. So we’ll build marketing collateral for campaigns and make that available to the channel.

We also have something called Run a Demo that helps teach partners about products.

We also [offer] a team of service-delivery folks that onboard partners and their customers. That’s really helpful because if you spend all this time getting an opportunity in the boat, you don’t want them to leave because somebody didn’t call them back and actually turn on the product or get them set up.{ad}

CP: Tell us about your partner program.

Walsh: Our partner program is iterative, which means that we want to keep it fresh and inventive  We believe it’s a combination of high automation and high touch. Our goal is always to be easier to do business with, and from a marketing perspective and program perspective, we’re constantly asking ourselves, what makes it easier?

For starters, our program is about identifying products with good margins for our partners — and they have to be channel-centric vendors. They also have to have good automation and the ability to turn on those products quickly. Partners also get the marketplace; it’s brandable by them, and we’re constantly updating it based on what makes it easier for them to use.

We’ve also modified our website so partners can get educated on the products that we sell, and we’ve connected that website to the marketplace and our processing of partner so they can automatically sign a partner agreement straight from the website — that’s new.

Some program details: We do a lot to introduce partners to new products. We have a proactive newsletter that’s now linked to new types of content we’re making available to the partner. One area we’re putting a lot of effort into is video, it’s a quick hit – two or three minutes – for partners who don’t have a lot of time.

Yoder: Next month we’ll be announcing something that has to do with helping partners market to their end customers, have access to customer-facing collateral and a more professional marketing presence to their customers without taking a lot of time.

CP:What’s the profile of partners that Pax8 is looking for?

Walsh: If you look at the regional partner, you’re talking about a firm that has between six and 12 employees, doing between $2 million and $5 million in revenue; they may have a specialty or they may be fully outsourced IT. A specialty may be security or network monitoring.

The nationals are a very interesting model because …

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… they’re embracing the SMB market in the markets they serve, but they have more robust services. These types of partners are going to be hundreds of IT professionals and have an internal sales and maybe a marketing department, and their needs shift more toward automation.

All of them (partner businesses) are expanding services because the cloud still represents fries with that steak. So you’ll sell a recurring service at a couple of dollars per month per user, but you’ll make additional money selling managed services.

CP: Are you seeing new channel-partner types in your program?

Walsh: We do, but they’re not as plentiful as traditional partner types. I recently had a conversation with an accounting company at a trade show that was interested in selling IT services related to their customer base — that’s a twist on trusted-adviser role; it’s a financial trusted adviser. You see this especially with cloud because it allows you to create this recurring tether to your customers in a different way and makes it sticky.

There’s also the telcos. The telco agents, I still think that’s out there as well as a new breed trying to figure out how they embrace and sell IT services as telco services become more commoditized. We’ve got our ear to the ground on that one and to figure out what they need.{ad}

CP: Do you know what percentage of your partners overall revenue is cloud-based revenue?

Walsh: There’s a mix, but in general, for those we’re tracking, it’s typically 25 percent or less cloud recurring revenue — and that’s why they need help. We do have some partners whose recurring revenue percentage is 75 percent or greater. They come to us because we quickly provision products and have a very flexible cloud marketplace that allows them to do more business. So the average that I’m using reflects a typical channel partner, but what I’m happy to see is that for partners who want to do more business in the cloud, that’s what our marketplace really helps them do because it provides the automation that they’re looking for.

[Pax8 works with about 15 vendors that represent 60 product lines and continues to add vendors. Bodell said to expect an announcement in the next couple of weeks with the names of new vendor partners.]


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