By late 2004, NetWolves, a small managed network and security provider, had achieved a level of success in which it could take pride.
The VOIP, VPN and network security vendor had more than 1,000 customers, 30 or 40 loosely affiliated resellers and was approaching $7 million in revenue per quarter.
But the Tampa, Fla.-based company, with 86 employees, lacked the reach it needed to expand to a broader market, said Michael Grossman, NetWolve’s Channel Partner Program Manager.
The company’s main route to market was through several partnerships with internet and telecom providers to provide NetWolves services to their customers.
The handful of resellers were successful, Grossman said, but sold the product line ad hoc.
Executives recognized a broad volume channel was the answer, and in November 2004 the company embarked on a channel building campaign.
Executives spent six months researching other programs and questioning VARs before settling on a simple channel program with support and deal registration as its cornerstones.
The program officially launched this week with the company’s first 400 VARs.
Formalizing many of the ad hoc practices NetWolves practiced with its first 40 VARs was the key to recruiting and building a channel, Grossman said.
“We wanted to reach out to agents, bring them new opportunity, be competitive among vendors and say this is what we have,” he said. “But if you don’t have a formal program what’s the point? Most [VARs] don’t want to get involved.”
Partners will be shepherded through the program by one of 10 channel coordinators, who will act almost as channel coaches, Grossman said.
Channel coordinators will serve as a single point of contact for assistance on contracts, pricing and programs.
“We want them to have a consistent experience in getting what they need,” he said.
“If we want someone to be productive, we need them to go out in the market and have an understanding of what they’re doing.”
In addition to coordinators, partners will have access to channel managers, sales and technical support and a newly designed Web portal.
The vendor maintains a direct sales force, but expects to avoid channel conflict with a strict deal registration program.
NetWolves expects the reseller network to grow and bring it line to the masses, Grossman said.
“We knew we had something for everyone,” he said. “This is a huge opportunity. Everyone uses some type of phone or internet. There are so many potential customers. But you need a way to reach them.”