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Top Gun 51 Profile: Mitel’s John Lindsley Says Envision a Successful, Sustainable Partner Program

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Mitel‘s John Lindsley has transformed the attitudes of hardware-centric people at his company and showed them that the channel can be a revolutionary place for cloud-based sales.

Since becoming vice president and channel chief eight months ago, Lindsley has doubled his sales team and put the right people in place, from operations and marketing to sales, to improve the master, partner and customer experience.

Mitel's John Lindsley

Mitel’s John Lindsley

Improving the organizational structure, where masters now have dedicated account management, has enhanced everything from quoting to support for channel managers, all of which greatly helps the partner and ultimately the end customer.

That’s why Lindsley is part of Channel Partners’ Top Gun 51, which recognizes a new generation of channel executives, those who build and execute programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.

The #TopGun51 are recognized at Channel Partners Evolution, and three special award winners – Channel Innovator (thought leadership, innovation), Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star – have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on the keynote stage.

Before joining Mitel in 2017, Lindsley held channel and sales roles with Verizon and XO Communications.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Lindsley talks about his experience and accomplishments in the channel, and shares advice for successful channel leadership.

Channel Partners: How did you first become involved in the channel? Was it part of your overall career plan?

John Lindsley: My career in the channel began in February 2009 when I joined what was then known as the Verizon Solution Providers Program (VSPP) as a recruitment and onboarding manager. At that time, the channel wasn’t a part of my overall career plan, but it did represent a new side of the company and industry that I was eager to learn, as I had been on the direct side of the business for the previous 12 years. The spring 2009 Channel Partners Conference and Expo in Las Vegas coincided with my first week in the new role, and I remember walking into the expo hall and being in awe at the size and influence of the technology channel that continues 10 years later.

We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.

CP: Have you been responsible for building channel programs from the ground up? If so, how did your experience come into play in these processes?

JL: For five years, I was fortunate to have worked directly on, or adjacent to, the leadership team of legendary channel visionary Janet Schijns. Anyone who knows Janet knows that she’s bold, fearless and driven, and she is hands-down one of the smartest and forward-looking leaders I’ve ever worked for. During that time, I led a portion of Janet’s channel programs team where we dismantled the then-VSPP, and also built, launched and grew what is now known as the Verizon Partner Program (VPP.)  From the initial business plan and coverage model, to rules of engagement, tiers and benefits, contract and compensation strategy, training and enablement, spiffs and incentives, systems and tools, all under Janet’s leadership, I was fully immersed with a broader team, in building and then managing the new VPP end to end. 

CP: What have your learned most from your experience with the channel and partners?

JL: I’ve learned countless business and life lessons as a result of my 10-plus years in the channel. One of the most important is to envision what a successful and sustainable program looks like when it’s working, to always strive for best-in-class, and not to be shy about course-correcting along the way when it’s necessary to do so. End users prefer to buy technology through the channel because channel partners are stable, consistent, vendor-agnostic trusted advisers with their customers. Accordingly, the channel is a close-knit and loyal community filled with strong, deep and often long-term relationships. As a technology vendor or supplier, I’ve witnessed the channel bringing rapid scale, extended reach and go-to-market speed, and partners will freely share what …

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