Mobi to Create First Partner Program With Adtran Channel Vet at the Helm

The new chief has more than 20 years of experience in enterprise mobility sales program management and service implementation.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

January 27, 2017

9 Min Read
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Edward Gately**Editor’s Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in December or here for a list of recent important channel-program changes you should know.**

Global mobility management platform Mobi this year will roll out its first partner program designed by Tom Koch, the company’s new director of channels.

Koch has more than 20 years of experience in enterprise mobility sales program management and service implementation. Prior to Mobi, he worked for Adtran, where he most recently served as director of channel sales and operations. He was responsible for leading that company’s enterprise markets distribution strategy and all analytical aspects of its channel program, sales operations and telesales teams.

Mobi's Tom Koch“One of Mobi’s key 2017 focuses is strengthening our current channel partnerships and expanding our capabilities in that sector,” said Mitch Black, Mobi’s president. “We firmly believe Tom’s expertise will help drive growth in the coming months and years.”

Mobi has relationships with about 30 companies in the channel, such as CDW, PCM and Point Management, which are in various places in Mobi’s sale process.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Koch talks about the process of building a partner program from the ground up and providing new education tools for partners to identify new customers and opportunities.

Channel Partners: What is your assessment of Mobi’s current channel strategy?

Tom Koch: With the relationships that we have with very large integrators out there, we’re a channel-friendly environment. What we don’t really have is a structured channel organization. We work with a number of companies and support them, but what we’re missing is a real defined, structured process and program to deal with a number of elements that you run into when you’re selling into channel. How do you handle channel conflict? Are there rules and structures that you’ve got in place that allow partners to coexist and compete, and effectively sell their respective value? Those are things that we don’t have today that I’m absolutely looking at trying to map out a plan and implement more of a structured, formal channel program.{ad}

When you think about the number of salespeople we have in the company, if you really want to get deep into the enterprise space … we need to scale it and to scale it is through channel. That’s job one for me.

CP: So you will be creating the company’s first partner program?

TK: That is absolutely my plan. My goal is to be able to build a framework for a real partner program and hopefully be able to put something out between now and …


… the end of the calendar year that would allow us to attract companies who want to resell our solutions and grow our business extremely quickly.

There are a lot of challenges with creating a channel program and we’ll go through and tackle those things one by one as we architect the program. My goal is to build a very structured program where we can have partners compete effectively, sell their own independent values, bring what they bring to the customer that differentiates one company from another, but be able to all lead with and resell a Mobi solution. It’s kind of my belief that the more partners that we have selling our product and our brand, we will gain a market acceptance and become the leader that we are, and become much more well-known and accepted in the marketplace.

CP: Channel programs are constantly evolving in terms of what works and what no longer works. What do you see working best in your program?

TK: We need to have a way to protect a partner who carries the Mobi flag, who comes in and helps create the demand and finds the opportunity, and engages us early into the sale if they need to … whether it’s part of their core offering or whether it’s an add-on to their core offering. And in order to do that, you typically have some form or function of a deal-registration program. What that will look like, I haven’t quite figured out yet.{ad}

I’m not sure about a multi-tiered program. I don’t see distribution initially in the game. Maybe down the road, I don’t know. I don’t think we need to worry about bringing in a two-tier distribution model at this point, but that could be something that we build toward in the future, we’ll figure that out.

I personally like channel conflict. To me, when you’ve got lots of partners competing against one another, that suggests that you’ve got as many horses in the race as possible and your chances of winning a deal goes up significantly when you’ve got everybody bidding you. But I also like to make sure that we protect the partner who brought us into the deal first, or maybe even at some point have sort of an incumbency program where you’ve got a partner who created the deal a year ago, but now they’re starting to bring in something new that we offer and they’re expanding the relationship between Mobi and that client … wouldn’t you want to protect the relationship of that vendor and that VAR that actually created that demand and are the incumbent in that space?

CP: What are the biggest challenges to putting together a partner program?

TK: It’s really trying to find the right dealers. And it has everything to do with mapping what you sell with the skills and the capabilities of a reseller, and then going and trying to find as many of those companies that fit that ideal profile. It could be based on a whole number of factors, from the size of a company to skill sets, technical competencies that they may have, etc. The first thing we’ve got to do is profile, identify, target and recruit partners that fit that nice profile.

The second challenge I would say is really in the creation of enablement. Nobody will sell Mobi better than a Mobi salesperson, there’s no question about that, because we know what it does, we know how everything works, we understand the intricacies. The challenge is developing enablement tools that can allow us to go and educate resellers’ sales teams so that they can do as much of that identifying the good things and screen out the opportunities that are really not optimal … and also then taking some of the pieces that we make and combining [those] with …


… the things they do that make a complete portfolio.

CP: Have you received any feedback from partners yet? What are they telling you? Do they want to see changes?

TK: I am absolutely talking to both current resellers of our products, as well as prospective ones. The feedback has been unanimously fabulous. I have yet to have somebody tell me from a partner community about a challenge that they’ve had working with us. I’ve heard feedback from the partners telling me how great and how easy it is to do business with the company. The salespeople – both of our field sales as well as our channel sales people – it’s the relationships that they build with those people, and I guess the underlying feedback is they wish they could see more of them, which then highlights the need for enablement tools. They’re thirsty for knowledge.

The prospective partners are giving me similar [comments], but they’re very new to the concept of mobility management, which is partly one of the things that excites me about the position. If you look at the device counts as you go forward in the coming years, literally billions and billions of units and devices are going to be connected devices over the five years. There is going to become more and more need for mobility management, whether it’s for your cellphone, your tablet or some sensor that’s connected wirelessly, the need to manage those, the security aspects of those. A lot of these partners, these companies, are just becoming aware of it and looking at this as being a huge opportunity for them to grow into a new place and a new technology space. And the good thing is Mobi is well positioned with a high-quality product that does so much, and our flexibility because our product was built from the ground up around mobility management. We’re a great fit.{ad}

CP: What do you want to accomplish during your first six months to a year?

TK: So by the end of the year, I’d really like to be in the position to say during the first six months we charted the course … and then we built that program, and announced, and we launched so by the close of this year we’ve got a structured channel program that attracts companies to want to sell Mobi. And I think if we can get to that point a year from now, we’re going to be setting ourselves up for some astronomical growth opportunities in the future.

And one of the things we’ll do is use analytics to track the success of the partner program, watch the business as it evolves, watch the customer bases, look at the product offerings, and we’ll reassess that partner model on a regular basis … and have to adjust and tweak that partner program to pick and modify, or discard things that don’t make sense.

CP: What will Mobi’s channel strategy look like in three to five years?

TK: As three to five years go down the road, I could see us having the program incorporating potentially vertical targets for education or IoT, or whatever else, where you go in and …


… look at companies that specialize in a particular vertical space, and really target and partner with those folks to go penetrate that space. There’s no limit to the possibilities. It’s just as much as you can be creative and think about options, and paying attention to the changes as we go forward year two, year three, year four, etc.

CP: When you look at the competitive landscape for mobility management, what is it that you want to build into a channel program that attracts partners to you instead of a competitor?{ad}

TK: One of the things that’s unique about Mobi is our platform was created from the ground up, from scratch, with mobility management in mind from day one. Many of our competitors have built their offering based on acquisitions, and there are challenges to dealing with things that involve acquisitions. And I think because we have everything, the design and architecture of what we do was mobility based from day one, that’s a differentiator that I think will separate us and will lead partners to us.

Our key will be to find a way to articulate very clearly those differences between what we do and our competition, and build those into enablement tools, which will then get those partners to want to come to us.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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