Ensuring successful channel engagement

Channel Post speaks with the Sr. Manager – Channels, Middle East Turkey & Africa at Citrix Systems, Eyad Al Shami on the overall state of regional IT channel and his role in driving the company’s channel operations.

Eyad Al Shami, Senior Manager – Channels, META at Citrix

What is your career history to date and key career achievements?

I started my career path in the UAE in 2001 by joining a local system integrator. I then spent time in roles at HP, Acer, Cisco, and Fortinet consecutively from 2002 till 2013 which is when I joined Citrix. Throughout the 16 years I’ve spent in the market both regionally and locally, I achieved multiple personal milestones in professional development, from inside sales to Senior Sales Manager, Channels – META. The key milestone that I’m especially proud of is the credibility that I’ve gained within the industry by helping partners achieve mutual goals.

What are your roles and responsibilities in the company as a channel influencer?

My main role is to align engagements with the channel landscape toward our priorities, whilst simultaneously maintaining their goals as well. In today’s expansive IT world where there are so many solutions to be marketed to end users, this responsibility becomes essential in generating brand awareness and profitability.

What qualities should a channel influencer possess to lead the channel?

The main quality is the ability to identify not only what the company’s goals and priorities are, but also the channel’s key strategies and vision so that a strong link can be established to drive profitability. This should be coupled with structured planning towards mutual goals and the ability to be consistent in following through in order to execute and achieve outstanding results.

What is your advice on finding success in the channel?

  • Know your target
  • Know your landscape
  • Prioritize engagements
  • Create a replicable business model
  • One-size plan does not fit-all, know how to modify engagements

How would you assess the current state of channel and what are the challenges that it presents?

I believe that the current channel market is overwhelmed with technologies and solution vendors. As such we’ve seen major local SIs go through restructuring processes and create go-to-market models to absorb new solutions within their unique offerings. The smaller channel players are either keeping their focus on their current solution set or swapping out some technologies in their portfolio for more innovative ones to remain up-to-date with industry trends. The growth of cloud-enabled solutions means the channel community is faced with having to modify their customer engagements, as they run the risk of being taken over by more agile partners. An additional challenge is the ever-reducing profits that are mainly driven by competition and customer pressure. An effective way to counter this is for the channel to offer the latest and most profitable value proposition to end users.

How can partners work effectively to generate growth in the channel?

Partners can generate growth in the channel by planning, identifying success criteria and proactively engaging with customers to create a value proposition that is based on their actual needs.

If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?

We see many partners tend to adapt the “price drop” strategy with the customer to win business rather than up-selling and growing profit based on thorough discussion to uncover additional potential opportunities. These partners need to elevate their engagement levels and models to better identify the customer need/ budget/ obstacles resulting in a scenario where every party wins.