In every issue of the Canadian Channel Chiefs Council (C4) newsletter we feature a C4 member to gain insights from their experiences, learn about their channel journey, and what advice they have for their peers in the channel community.
In this issue, we turn the spotlight on Ted Schnarr, director, sales & marketing and channel partner operations with Xerox Canada.
C4: How did you become involved in the channel?
Schnarr: Early in my career at Xerox I was given the opportunity to join an exciting new business area that was being launched. I was thrilled to be joining what has now turned into a major go-to-market strategy for Xerox – Channel Partner Operations. While the name of our channel organization has changed several times over the last 20 years, we have steadily grown and invested in the channel – growing Xerox’s business each and every year. From my first assignment through to my position today, I have thoroughly enjoyed dealing with business partners – Distributors, IT Resellers, VARs, Dealers. It is amazing how many people you meet along the way that teach you valuable lessons about the channel and partnering. But what keeps me devoted to this business model is the power of the partnerships and how you are able to deliver incredible customer experiences that are impossible without the interaction between a manufacturer and a great channel partner.
C4: What makes a good reseller partner?
Schnarr: The term partner is well used in our industry. There are many ways to describe the relationships in the channel – supplier, sub-contractor, vendor – but a true partnership requires mutual benefit and reciprocating commitment. A great reseller partner drives incremental revenue in your business through a reciprocating commitment. The manufacturer provides value (technology, services, solutions, profit margin, rebates, promotions) to the reseller and the reseller reciprocates with sales and marketing coverage, customer reach and relationships, multi-vendor solutions and ongoing service and support.
C4: Could you describe a business challenge you’ve had to overcome in a channel role, and how you’ve learned from it?
Schnarr: While the channel has become a critically important part of the go-to-market strategy for Xerox and a significant part of our growth plans, it did not come naturally for a company that grew up as a direct selling organization. One of the early challenges we faced was to build the trust between our direct sales people and the channel partners with whom we had built relationships. We brought our direct sales people out to meet with the partners, hosted social events for them to meet and co-ordinated account strategy sessions to initiate the interaction and foster the trust required to do business together. Over time, trust was built through these meetings followed closely by successful collaboration and business opportunities. To build trust, sometimes you need to take small steps to start and then let the results take hold.
C4: What advice do you have for someone looking at a career in the channel?
Schnarr: There are so many areas of the channel to start a career – within the reseller community, distribution, manufacturers. Every one of these organizations have entry level positions where you can begin a career in the channel. Some people start in one area and make a career by moving between the different types of organizations – bringing valuable perspectives from prior roles – while other people choose to stay within a category and advance and develop through multiple positions. Any path can lead to a successful and gratifying career. What I find valuable about the channel is the long-term relationships that people in this industry develop and I never cease to be amazed by the impact they have on successful business partnerships.