Montreal-based Internet load-balancing appliance vendor looking to build up its Canadian channel presence
In business since 2003 and really booming since 2008, Elfiq’s appliances allow businesses to share multiple Internet connections from multiple ISPs. It offers products for the SMB through to the enterprise
For Jean Pascal Hebert, vice president of business development at Elfiq, there’s a very powerful motivator for signing up with distribution – awareness.
“About 70 per cent of our potential audience, both end user and VAR, have no idea that this product category exists,” Hebert said of Elfiq’s wares. “We’re bringing to the Canadian channel a mission-critical solution for their customers, a basic requirement for companies of 100 people and up.”
Greg Myers, vice president of marketing at Tech Data Canada, said Elfiq’s product line is a natural extension of the distributor’s existing data centre and networking plays, and that Elfiq was brought on board at least in part because of demand from resellers “for us to represent more networking technologies.”
Myers echoed Hebert’s comments on the importance of the Elfiq solution.
“How many times a day do resellers, do distributors, do vendors turn to the search engine to find some information?” he said, suggesting the crucial nature of the Internet for business today.
Although it’s Canadian born and raised, Hebert describes penetration of Elfiq in this country as “very low.” Part of that is because the company found “immediate success” south of the border, and went after the demand there. Part of that is thanks to international lead gathering through Google. But now, he says, Elfiq wants to invest in building up its channel in its home country, starting with the Tech Data relationship.
Myers said Tech Data is planning “a number of marketing initiatives” around Elfiq to target a broad base of its resellers. A first wave of awareness-building will be followed up by creating sales opportunities that will match Elfiq telesales reps with the partners’ own sales staff. It’s an opportunity that Hebert said his company relishes.
“We love those three-way engagements. They allow us to answer the questions of the customer, cut through misconceptions and really accelerate the deal,” he said.
Doing joint calls on customers can be concerning to a solution provider, particularly when working with an unfamiliar vendor. But Hebert said Elfiq’s processes are designed to make it much harder for a sales rep to take a deal direct than to field it through the channel. In fact, going direct requires specific permission from management.
“There’s only one way we’re going to win, and that’s through the channel,” Hebert said. “That’s where our growth comes from.”
The vendor’s channel program is a two-tiered structure, with a broad base level that includes no revenue commitments, sales and marketing tools and support, access to NFR products. There’s also an Elite tier, an invitation-only package for the company’s most strategic partners. With that structure, the company hopes to build a broad base of partners who are selling it’s products – “Any reseller can take our product and run and do some business with it,” Hebert said – while still building a loyal “inner-circle” of its top solution providers.
The top tier is decided by the history of the partner with Elfiq as well as the business model of the partner. “We want to protect organizations that are services-driven,” Hebert said.
Services are key because just about any product sold “should automatically be getting a professional services engagement” for configuration, architecture, additional networking gear and other network-centric services.
“If a VAR has a strong networking/telecom practice, the rampup is really quick,” Hebert said of onboarding partners.