October 20, 2015 | By Julian Archer
Headquartered near Paris, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE) is a successful provider of enterprise communications solutions and services. With approximately 830,000 customers worldwide and operations in a 100-plus countries, ALE conducts business with the help of some 2,900 partners.
Regardless of its success rate, size and access to resources, managing a partner network across 71 countries and five time zones (with 10 hours of flying time required between west and east) will present some challenges. This is exactly the environment that the ALE Middle East and Africa (MEA) team faces.
From a business perspective, ALE saw that it needed to improve the effectiveness of its channel marketing-spend, the end customer awareness of the Alcatel brand, and the transparency of the MEA channel’s contribution to ALE as a whole.
In 2014, the MEA partner team reviewed the channel business, beginning with a partner segmentation exercise. In addition to current revenue contribution, the partner team scored criteria such as marketing competence, technology adoption and willingness to align to ALE’s lead management processes.
Simultaneously, it became evident that a major portion of channel business, such as business generated from local events, was not being recorded because a) the partners were not providing the information and b) ALE needed to extend the existing internal reach of its own business data capture and reporting capabilities.
At SiriusDecisions,we have seen too many channel efforts focus heavily on activity-based programs with neither adequate tracking of results, nor an appreciation of the need to better align supplier support with business goals. In response, we introduced the TRED Model, a channel model that helps organizations forge fundamental agreement on the core areas of potential activities (and corresponding spend) that both parties should consider Within the TRED Model’s four layers – technology, recruitment, enablement and demand creation, executives need to consider three distinct areas: supplier to partner, partner (distributor and/or reseller) to customer, and supplier to customer.
We were delighted when ALE’s MEA team reported that they had initiated, as part of the organization’s value-added distributor (VAD) and reseller channel strategy, a plan for demand creation and measurement that mirrored the TRED approach:
- Supplier to partner. With the expressed goal of enabling the VADs to recruit and increase the breadth of new resellers, the MEA team invested in marketing and technology training. Internal ALE recording processes were altered, the changes were communicated, and partners adopted the necessary reporting activities.
- Partner to customer. Before the new strategy was implemented, partners were used to relying on supplier-funded activity without considering a coordinated approach that reflected goals within reputation, demand creation or sales enablement programs. Changes were introduced to support VADs and introduce even more streamlined and integrated campaign activity. While physical events became the cornerstone of demand creation activity, surround tactics were coordinated and effective measurement metrics were used to monitor and ensure progress.
- Supplier to customer. In order to drive greater reputation building and uniformity of attendee experience, the MEA team provided its VADs and resellers with materials, templates and training to ensure pre-event and at-event attendee success. Moreover, owing to the improved cooperation of channel partners, ALE was able to maintain and enhance its own MEA region customer and prospect database, thereby laying the foundation for post-event nurturing activity.
By all appropriate metrics, ALE’s effort has been worth it. The number of fully aligned VADs has grown from one to nine. The number of reseller event attendees increased more in the first three months of 2015 than during all of 2014. The level of reported pipeline shows the MEA channel business to be a significant contributor to ALE’s business. Moreover, confidence in the reported figures has never been higher. ALE believes the increase in pipeline to be greatly improved, but what is even more telling is that, for the first time, they know exactly what their partners’ pipeline impact actually is.
Inspired to build a best-in-class channel programme like ALE? Download an overview of the SiriusDecisions Channel Programme Model to understand the functional and cross-functional requirements of channel marketing for the effective and efficient support of partners within the program.