Motorola Solutions Channel Partner Sales Climb

Motorola Solutions Chief Executive Greg Brown gave a pep talk this week to his channel partners in an atmosphere that resembled a big party, but it wasnt that long ago that Brown and Motorola struggled.

March 9, 2011

4 Min Read
Motorola Solutions Channel Partner Sales Climb

By Josh Long

Motorola Solutions, the company that sells two-way radios, mobile computers and other products to enterprise and government sectors around the world, generates about $1.8 billion in annual revenues in North America through its vast network of channel partners, Motorola Solutions president and CEO Greg Brown said Monday.

The North American channel grew about 13 percent in 2010 and now represents 23 percent of worldwide sales, Brown revealed at the companys channel partners expo in Las Vegas.

The company, which relies heavily on hardware resellers and other outside organizations to drive sales, wants to bring North American channel revenues to $2 billion by 2013, Brown noted at the posh Aria hotel in a ballroom that resembled a sports stadium.

You move faster than we do,” Brown said, addressing a sea of employees and channel partners who were treated to a morning of breakdancing, booming bass, cheerleaders, acrobatic dunks and comedy through the twin Sklar brothers. You are more entrepreneurial. You push us. You make us better.”

Over the past year, channel partners ramped up sales of wireless network solutions, such as point-to-point microwave radio systems and mesh wide-area networks.  Sales in the WNS channel grew 27 percent year over year, Brown disclosed during an expo that attracted about 2,100 Motorola partners.

Brown further revealed 17 percent annual growth in channel sales of its enterprise mobility solutions, such as mobile computing and bar code scanners.

Meanwhile, channel partner sales of Motorolas radio equipment climbed nine percent for the year.

We crossed the $1 billion mark,” said Brown, referring to Motorolas two-way radio business.

Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola Solutions has roughly 5,000 channel partners in North America, reflecting a fifth of its total relationships (25,000) around the world.  

Motorola Solutions is part of an 82-year-old company that underwent a radical transformation in January when it split up into two new companies: Motorola Solutions and Motorola Mobility, which sells smartphones and other consumer devices like digital set-top boxes and the recently released XOOM tablet. 

I am so excited that were at this point as a new independent entity,” Brown said. 

But the journey to independence has been marked by struggles.

Until a few months ago, Motorola Solutions was part of a larger company that fell on hard times for three consecutive years during one of the worse economic crises of the last century.

In November 2007, Brown then Motorolas 47-year-old president and chief operating officer  was tapped to replace Edward J. Zander as CEO.  But his timing was terrible.

Ive always believed that the crown jewel of Motorola, the heart and soul of Motorola before we separated, is what you do …” Brown said, addressing his companys employees and channel partners. But I also knew the end of ’07 we had a bit of code-red in our hands in the corporation.”

Motorola couldnt meet its numbers on Wall Street, and the companys largest shareholder at the time, billionaire Carl Icahn, called Brown to express his dismay. The stock price tanked as well.

It was enormously difficult for me personally,” said Brown, whose angst caused him to lose 35 pounds in 45 days. For me, personally, I was in uncharted territory.”

Brown credits his wife Anna the two were high-school sweethearts for helping him get through the difficult times, and he describes a night in which he was pacing around his house.

I was spent physically,” he said. I was spent emotionally and my wife said, ‘This isnt about you You are walking around here carrying the weight of the world around your shoulders … 60,000 people in Motorola are waiting for you to lead … You’ve got to lead.’ That was the turning point. That was the turning point for me because she was right.”

But for three consecutive years, Motorola bled in the red, collectively suffering billions of dollars in losses.  Last year, the company reported operating earnings of $789 million as sales rose 6 percent to $19.3 billion.

With a new identity and hopefully the ugly years behind him, Brown may be able to focus more these days on giving pep talks rather than putting out huge fires.

I want people to do three things,” Brown said to his employees and channel partners, think, hussle and win.”

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