Not having a two-tier partner program was a big turnoff to the sharks.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

September 13, 2019

4 Min Read
Shark Stage at CPE 2019

(Pictured above, left to right: Ring Logix’s Dante White, XaaS1’s Rick Beckers, TBI’s Adam Knudsen, Tech Data’s Heather Murray, MicroCorp’s Karin Fields, Ingram Micro’s Eric Kohl, Telarus’s Richard Murray, Erick Simpson of and JS Group’s Janet Schijns on the Shark Stage.)

CHANNEL PARTNERS EVOLUTION — The sharks were circling when four vendors faced a lineup of distributors and master agents at Thursday’s Shark Stage at Channel Partners Evolution.

Facing the sharks were:

  • Dante White, channel sales director for Ring Logix, a white label VoIP platform for resellers.

  • Irwin van der Vlist, co-founder of Speakap, which provides a branded employee communications platform.

  • George Leith, chief revenue officer of Vendasta, a white label platform for selling digital solutions.

  • Amy Luby, vice president of channel for Sensorium, a company that helps partners build an IoT practice.

Janet Schijns, CEO of JS Group, served as pitchmaster of ceremonies, and told the vendors they were fortunate to receive free advice from a group representing “millions of dollars of salary.”

The sharks were: Rick Beckers, CEO of XaaS1; Adam Knudsen, TBI‘s vice president of sales operations; Heather Murray, Tech Data‘s vice president of security solutions and new vendor acquisition; Karin Fields, CEO/COO of MicroCorp; Eric Kohl, vice president of Ingram Micro‘s security business unit; Richard Murray, Telarus‘ COO; and Erick Simpson, founder and chief strategist at

Not having a two-tier partner program was a big turnoff to the sharks, as learned by Ring Logix, which had the toughest time finding takers. Vendasta, on the other hand, gained 100 percent interest from the sharks, and Speakap gained interest from a number of the sharks.

And Sensorium had all of the sharks either in or wanting to know more.

Becker said he was looking for new niche products.

“I want to know that they’re going to be able to educate my agents on how to sell their product, what to listen for, what to look for, those kinds of things,” he said. “I want to know that they’ve got financing, the ability to explain how their compensation model works and that it works for my agents, whether it’s referral or reseller. Marketing is a big thing, so we want to look at do they have joint marketing materials, do they have development funds for distributors to be able to do awareness campaigns, do they work social media, all those kinds of things. It’s a big, broad mix in the digital transformation world that we live in. This is not a break-fix world anymore, and being as it is as a digital world, a lot of the things that I’ve described are easily done and it will be easily recognized by somebody with experience whether or not they’ve thought them.”

Fields said she was looking to be wowed.

“They have to have at least an established program for the partners because it could be a great product, but if there’s no way for us to work with them, it’s very frustrating and it costs us a lot of money to be honest,” she said. “There’s too many things that we need to focus our attention on, and onboarding a new relationship that doesn’t have any type of infrastructure to support us naturally, it’s like futile, we’re the hamster on the wheel. And if we’re fighting about the status of the order, trying to get paid commissions, not having any engagement from a channel manager or our partners can go directly to that organization and get the same kind of contract that I get, those things make it a non-starter for us.”

Simpson said he was focused on the business plan, and especially the onboarding and nurturing, and support process for new partners.

“I work with a lot of vendors in the channel and one thing that I see is a big distinction between the very successful vendors that have great partner programs and raving partner fans are the onboarding process all the way through the sales enablement and sales support process and strategy for them,” he said. “That’s what I’ll be looking for: a well-rounded strategy that takes a brand-new partner all the way to a successful transacting partner.”

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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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