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Sunday, September 03, 2017 - Dubai

Building a Strong, Knowledgeable Channel

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Sonicwall 2017 9 3 channel post mea interview

Shahnawaz Sheikh, Sales & Channel Director – META & Eastern Europe at SonicWall on his approach towards building a reliable and consistent channel strategy.

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

My career history to date has been to develop and manage channel and sales targets. Some of the key career achievements have been in the areas of business development in newer markets or with niche technologies that triggered successful market demand over a period of time.

I have successfully set the foundation for Digital KVM technology for data center solutions by creating knowledgeable channel partners in Middle East. Subsequent to that I have developed and built a strong channel fabric across the region to sell and support SonicWall products and I continue to do so by demonstrating higher business value to existing and new channel partners with new routes to market and business expansion in mind.

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

As a channel influencer, my key roles and responsibilities are to first build a reliable and consistent channel strategy that comprises of active and fully enabled channel partners that enjoy profitability and business growth. Secondly, it is essential to keep the channel motivated and excited about our company’s roadmap and how this partnership can have positive influence over their customers to trust them and their product, solutions and offerings by gaining strong mindshare of their budgets during IT planning.

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

A channel influencer should always start his/her job with a win-win attitude. This ‘how may I help you’ attitude, coupled with fair business and market understanding, will help in connecting well with partners and customers, and enhance trust between business owners or business managers of channel partners. This approach of inter-dependency and mutual respect helps the channel influencer to lead the channel with ease and manage with minimal or no channel conflicts.

What is your advice on finding success in the channel?

My advice is to uphold a “can do” attitude and always maintain a fair approach in handling sensitive and important matters with transparency and credibility.

How would you assess the current state of channel?

The current state of channel is a mixed bag. There is a continuous need for the channel to invest in trainings and enablement, to keep their skillset up-to-date.  Many times, it is a chicken and egg situation for most businesses. However, the ones that invests ahead of the curve will reap the early bird opportunity, as this is what most vendors and customers keep an eye out for.

What is the biggest challenge facing the IT channel in the region?

There is no finish line in any business; there is always room for improvement. The challenge with the IT channel today could be in the areas of skills, commitment on project execution, quality of pre- or post-sales service, or fulfilling any business commitment. However, many channel companies are constantly striving to learn from their mistakes and maintain a high rate of customer satisfaction.

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

If I could improve one thing about channel business, that would be consistency in quality of service and commitment towards the customers. I cannot imagine to own a business that brings appreciation from one set of customers and criticism or dissatisfaction from another.

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

I think this is a very strong eco-system in the business chain. All three parties, vendors, distributors and resellers or retailers, should come together to take an oath to deliver optimal products and services to their customers, at an optimal cost. Eventually, this should result into a win-win transaction for every party including the end-customer, who should eventually enjoy the sense of satisfaction that they have gained the right solution and service for the cost they paid.

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