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8x8 Global Channel Chief Shares Plans for Partner Support

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Image: Artur Marciniec - Alamy Stock Photo
Earlier this year, cloud communications platform provider 8x8 appointed Lisa Del Real as its Global Channel Chief. Del Real's responsibilities include leading 8x8's global channel programs and assisting in the development of a partner-first channel program aimed at helping 8x8 expand its industry leadership for integrated cloud communications and contact center solutions.
 
Del Real recently spoke with No Jitter about what makes global channel programs unique in the industry, challenges she's faced while building and maintaining global channel programs, and what she thinks all global channel programs should be offering their customers and why.
 
Responses have been edited for conciseness and clarity.
 
8x8 Chief Sales Officer Ken Berryman said you have a proven background in building and growing global channel programs. What are some of the milestones you’re most proud of in developing or growing these programs? What makes them so special from an industry and a personal perspective?
 
LDR: At my previous company [RingCentral], being part of the channel program from the very beginning was an incredible experience and ultimately developed me into the channel professional I am today. After the global chief, I was the second person hired to build the channel program and grow it into a global program. I’m very proud of all that we accomplished developing the program throughout North America, Australia, and Europe.
 
Focusing on the sales relationship was key—providing a collaborative environment between partners and direct sales representatives as they work with their customers, regardless of size. Implementing this within our market was very special from an industry perspective. At 8x8, this is also a key component of our overall partner experience. I look forward to expanding on this experience globally for our partners and their customers.
 
International markets may pose some distinct challenges because of variations in customer needs or how they do business. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your experience building and maintaining global channel programs? How did you meet or mitigate them?
 
LDR: The first (and most important) thing vendors must realize is one size does not fit all. It’s very easy for vendors, regardless of industry, to come into a new region and expect that what worked in other areas will also work here.
 
To be successful, channel teams must tailor their approach to the culture, work, and consumer habits of each particular region. How partners are supported is very different from region to region. Working with partners on how they need to be supported, from marketing to sales support, when they go to market will help those partnerships develop and grow.
 
Where is the greatest potential for growth in global channel programs right now? Why?
 
LDR: In the last few years, the power to control the entire customer journey and sale has been taken away from partners. Instead of leading the charge, partners have acted as a demand generation tool for technology vendors. P partners are hungry to own the relationship with the customer, and, as the vendor, we should be empowering them to be part of the entire journey once again.
 
One way to do this is to provide the certifications and enablement capabilities partners need to be truly front and center with their customers. By providing this support to partners, vendors can enable their partners to (once again) own the customer journey and fully care for joint-customer relationships.
 
What are the three things you plan to focus on the most as Global Channel Chief? Why those things?
 
LDR: First, constantly evaluate the partner experience and look for ways to uplevel and improve processes and relationships. This focus starts with the partner portal and extends throughout the entire sales process.
 
The second is to keep a special eye on the ease of doing business with you, the vendor. This particular focus is a cliche for a reason—if a vendor isn’t easy to conduct business with—partners will find other vendors to work with instead.
 
I can’t stress this third key focus enough. Vendors should be empowering their partners by providing the necessary resources partners need to own the customer journey.
 
All right, blue-sky time: What’s the one thing you think all global channel programs should be giving their customers and why?
 
LDR: An important element of delivering an exceptional partner experience is providing them with the sales tools, enablement, and product content they need to properly advise their customers on purchasing decisions. Further, channel programs should provide their partners with the tools they need throughout the entire customer journey, including the data and analytics necessary to maintain customer satisfaction and adoption after making the purchase.

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