At Datacastle, we have seen announcements from our competitors about shifting to channel strategies and wanting to recruit partners. We hear from our partners why these competitors fall well short or “don’t get it” in being a real partner. Being a real partner is more than just putting out a press release and throwing dollars against a partner recruitment program. We thought we would share with the partner community our lessons learned over the years as being the only true channel partner-focused endpoint data protection solution in the marketplace.
It is best to start with a few really good partners
We can not tell you how many times we have seen endpoint data protection vendors get the epiphany about needing the channel to be successful after selling directly for years. These vendors then ramp up a channel program by throwing their venture capital money at a channel partner recruitment program to sign up every partner they can get their hands on. Unfortunately, these late converts to the channel find that they are not a good match for most of these partners or can’t invest the necessary time and resources to make those partners successful. These vendors will make an announcement months later to the world (and to their venture capital investors) that they have signed up lots and lots of partners. What they don’t say is that these channel partners are not successful and the results are underwhelming for everyone. Datacastle has always focused on identifying the best partners by geography, industry, customer size, or practice expertise and then invest in that partnership. Once you have successful partners, new partners and growth will come over time and through hard work.
Invest in your partner
What does “invest in your partner” really mean? It means feed your new channel partner with leads that you generate rather than keeping them for yourself. It means performing sales and technical training for the partner. It means going on their first sales calls with them. It means arming the partner with all the sales tools and extending promotions to them. It means asking the partner to also invest in the relationship through the commitment of resources. All too often we see vendors sign up a partner, throw some product collateral and a price card over the wall, and tell the “partner” to let them know when they have an order. This is not investing in the partnership. When you see a vendor say that they have signed up thousands and thousands of partners, ask yourself if they have really invested in all those partnerships to make them successful.
Understand your partner’s reality
Datacastle assumes that all endpoint data protection partners have existing businesses. That may not sound revolutionary, but many of our competitors think partners exist for the vendor’s benefit. Some partners are MSP’s, some are traditional storage/backup resellers, some are business continuity/disaster recovery specialists, and some are data security or data governance experts. All of these types of partners have different realities to their world view about how they make money, the value proposition to their customers, and their expectations from the partnership. The partner’s reality manifests itself in the need for flexible branding, multi-tenancy, and different deployment options. Build relationships with partners where you are “a fit” and align with their reality, not the other way around. For example, Datacastle is a Microsoft Gold Cloud Platform Partner. We have spent years understanding the Microsoft cloud ecosystem really well and understand the world view of the different players in the ecosystem. It is a rich, complex ecosystem. Simply signing up to be an Azure vendor and make a press release isn’t going to lead to success with this ecosystem. We even see some competitors tout their Microsoft Azure relationship and then frequently steer customers into a rival cloud like Amazon AWS and hurting the Microsoft partner in the process.
International partners have additional needs
Datacastle takes great pride in our relationships with international partners. Datacastle RED is localized in 11 languages to meet the unique language needs of the users. But it doesn’t stop there. International partners have data jurisdiction and regulatory challenges, data center and connectivity challenges, and finally their customers may not have robust connectivity infrastructure. For some markets, partnering with local MSP’s works best. In other markets, partners taking advantage of Microsoft’s worldwide Azure data center build out makes sense. It should be the partners’ decision. Also having hybrid cloud technology like QuickCaches makes deployments in connectivity challenged parts of the world the most reliable and cost effective answer.
Complexity kills partnerships
Complex pricing models, rules of engagement, and incentive models yields more problems in a partnership than not. For a partner, the value proposition of your solution needs to be simple and well understood. Endpoint data protection is actually a pretty straight forward value proposition for a partner to engage with a customer around. Complicating it with a bunch of additional features that aren’t best in class just makes it complicated for the partner. Are you a half-assed cloud file sync and share solution? Are you a stripped down server backup offering (when most partners already have a mature server backup offering)? Datacastle RED is best in class at performance, resiliency, and storage efficiency if you want to protect your customers’ end users against ransomware, data loss, or data breach on their laptops, tablets, or smartphones. The Datacastle RED value proposition is simple so partners can sell it cleanly. Datacastle manages the technology complexity needed to deliver on the value proposition. We also have the proof of industry leading analysts to back up the claim.
Large, direct sales forces need to be fed
Many venture capital based endpoint data protection vendors in our space started off with direct sales forces and they have grown those sales forces over time. Large, direct sales forces need to be fed with leads and deal flow. This creates natural tensions with reseller partners. As a partner, if your endpoint data protection vendor has a large direct sales force, run the other way!
Provide a compelling future for the partnership
Partners rightfully take great pride in the businesses they have grown. They are invested in their businesses for the long run. They want to know how Datacastle’s product roadmap provides a compelling vision for how they are going to deepen the relationship they have with their customers. For example, we have been sharing our vision for rich analytics services that partners will be able to provide to their customers. This best in class analytics capability will add value to the customer relationship and how partners can procure more wallet share by providing more value. Different partners have customers that will take advantage of analytics from their endpoint data in different ways. Its important to listen and then make it simple for how partners can sell the new value to their customers.
Datacastle is totally committed to our partners. Sales through channel partners is not our growth “strategy of the week” to please venture investors. It is how we have had success to date and it is how we will continue to have success in the future. We help our partners have a growing, profitable endpoint data protection line of business. We help them exceed the expectations of their customers. At Datacastle, it is embedded in our DNA that our success is predicated on our partner’s success. We do not view partners as a means by which to fuel growth to keep our venture investors happy. To learn more about Datacastle and our approach to partners, please go to www.datacastlered.com/partners to learn more.