Siebel Courts SMBs with Partner Program

Taking cues from, Microsoft, SAP and others, the enterprise CRM leader builds a new channel program to harness demand from small and midsized businesses.

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Siebel Systems Inc. on Tuesday launched a new plan of attack to go after the SMB (small to midsized business) space that has proved elusive for the market-leading enterprise CRM software developer.

The strategy includes a new go-to-market model that integrates direct sales with local and regional channel partners and a new partner alliance program for application development that specifically targets the SMB base.

Siebel CEO Mike Lawrie had vowed to go after the SMB space like never before shortly after he became the companys new CEO earlier this year. The new effort is similar to the SMB channel program that Lawries former employer, IBM, developed in the late 1990s.

"We think small to medium businesses offer substantial opportunity for Siebel Systems to participate and help to reignite our growth engine as we go forward," Lawrie said in a news conference Tuesday in San Francisco. "Small to medium businesses are making as significant an investment in the front office as larger institutions."

Siebel, which has relied heavily on direct sales since its inception, has built a new channel program including a separate sales and support organization for the SMB space. SMB sales representatives, known as territory managers, will work closely with channel partners to develop joint business plans for reaching the market on a regional basis. Siebel hired 70 such people in the third quarter.

Leads will be shared with partners, and channel partners will get access to the same training and materials as Siebels own sales reps and will be expected to work as teams with Siebels internal sales teams.

"Sixty percent of SMBs prefer to do business with somebody local in their region, who does the education, training and support," said Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president and general manager of OnDemand and SMB at Siebel and the companys point man on this new initiative.

"Weve put together a program that embraces those partnerships." Cleveland developed Siebels original Siebel Alliance Program seven years ago in his first stint with the company. He rejoined the company after Lawrie became CEO.

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Cleveland said the new program also would eliminate channel conflict, which he described as one of the largest impediments to enterprise software companies selling to the SMB space.

"Well link together resellers with our salespeople, well sell with and sell through, so that the right behavior is executed in the marketplace," he said.

Cleveland said that over time, the sell-through component would become larger and larger.

"We along with our partners can deliver tangible business value," Lawrie said. "Were going after a different go-to-market strategy and distribution model, were actively embracing a new ecosystem and partner community. Well launch many new products and continue to advance our existing product offerings."

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