Corel introduces direct sales strategy

Corel says it is revamping its sales structure to help meet the needs of its target customers and to drive revenues in the enterprise segment.

Gary Klembara, the Ottawa company’s Dallas-based executive vice-president of sales, said

the sales organization will be restructured around three areas: enterprise sales, channel relationships and the partner sales group.

The enterprise part of the sales strategy, which incorporates professional services, will in most cases involve a direct relationship with Fortune 500/1000 users.

“Enterprise selling is an area that was . . . acquired by the acquisition of Micrografx and (is) also what we’re looking at with SoftQuad,” said Klembara, who was executive vice-president of sales for Micrografx, Inc. before Corel acquired it in last July. The Enterprise Process Management (EPM) products that came along with the Micrografx acquisition are already sold direct, since Micrografx primarily focused on direct enterprise relationships, he said.

There may or may not be a need to use resellers in enterprise relationships, said Klembara, depending on the situation. “If that (Fortune 500) customer agrees to acquire Corel products, then there’s a point where the customer will say “I use XYZ company to procure my software,’” said Klembara. “”We would not want to disrupt that relationship. If they have not had a relationship with Corel or any reseller and they wish to deal with us direct, then we will do that direct.”

Paul Edwards, channels analyst with IDC Canada, said at least a part of many vendors’ businesses involves a direct strategy, which “makes sense” during a time when customers are asking for direct accountability from vendors. They need a really clear strategy, he said, which outlines how the engagement between the vendor and its resellers is going to take place.

“The vendors . . in one way or another have to get into those accounts to take accountability as they’re being requested to do,”” he said. “”But at the same time, they really do need partners in those accounts, to a certain degree.”

Ken Gallant, sales manager with Vancouver-based reseller Atic Computers, said he’s not too concerned that Corel’s direct sales strategy for the enterprise segment will take business away from VARs, adding that it’s a common practice for companies such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Symantec.

Gallant said there other ways for VARs to get involved in enterprise relationships. For example, an enterprise customer might ask a VAR for a product recommendation to go along with a bulk system order. “The advantages for this are two-fold, as they allow us to resell a bulk amount of licenses at a good price, and all servicing and support is handled directly by the publisher,” he said, adding that the publisher keeps on record who the established resellers are for certain licenses. “When the customer needs to expand their license base, they are told to simply place the order with us, and their licenses will be expanded within a week.”

Corel will also seek to enhance relationships with its distribution and reseller partners, ushering in a new telesales group to manage tier three and four resellers and retailers while providing an opportunity for its sales organization to build a stronger ties with tier one and two resellers, Klembara said.

“When I talk about a stronger relationship, I’m really talking about more of an executive relationship in addition to the buying relationship that we have today,” he said. “(It’s about) looking at mutual business plans that can be put in place, driving more of a partnership to those business plans . . . Once those things are established, that gives us the opportunity to work with retailers, resellers and distributors and agree to a plan and move forward, so we have a common goal, so to speak.”

Moving tier three and four resellers to a telesales relationship with Corel will give the partners more of a “direct line” to the company and will give them faster and more efficient support, he said. Although the program will roll out in the next two to four quarters, Klembara said Corel has not determined who or how many of resellers will be supported by telesales.

Enhancing relationships with the partner sale group, which focuses on accounts in federal, state, local, academic, and corporate communities, is also a priority for the company. “Taking from what we’ve done on the distributor/reseller side we’re going to put an initiative in place to really have stronger relationships and business plans within those groups to be able to target specific accounts that we believe are important,” Klembara said. The company will look at it from the perspective of “classic Corel,” he said – meaning the Corel Draw, WordPerfect, creative professional and Procreate businesses, to “really focus on delivering Corel’s message to them and enhancing our sales because of a tighter relationship with them.” Corel will still utilize reseller relationships where appropriate, Klembara said.

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