IFS UNLEASHED ― Software vendor IFS has taken a swipe at rivals that “play the numbers game” with channel partner recruitment.
CEO Darren Roos and global channel leader Merlin Knott were speaking at IFS Unleashed in Miami this week.
Knott said IFS’ partner recruitment strategy is based on “quality, not quantity.”
IFS’ Melvin Knott
“We have a personal relationship with our partners — and that’s the difference in our model. If you look at a Microsoft or SAP or Oracle, they have a program which tries to attract as many people as they possibly can. It’s a numbers game,” Knott said.
“I don’t want to invest in 50 partners in that space because that’s disruptive,” he added. It confuses customers [and] it dilutes the messaging. It dilutes the value proposition, quite honestly, for the customer. We have a very focused go-to-market around industries, product segments, and distinct customer segments. If you think of that as a chessboard, we only ever want two partners in [a square].”
Competitors ‘Building a Wall’
Additionally, Roos (pictured on stage above) said many of IFS’ competitors “create a wall between themselves and partners” to get a strategic advantage.
“I don’t want to compete with our partners, and I’m happy to give them every advantage we can. There’s no reason for us to create that wall,” he said.
The CEO pointed out that while the firm’s software business has tripled in the last four years, its in-house consulting business has remained the same size.
“All of our efforts have gone into building a large and vibrant ecosystem of partners. We don’t compete,” he said. “We give them access to R&D, we involve them in the sales cycles, we do planning with them. They’re involved in our support propositions. Our consulting organization’s targets are based on partner enablement, training and certification, all of which we do for free.
“There is literally nothing we could do to bring are partners closer,” Roos told Channel Futures. “If there is, I’d love to hear it so we can do that.”
Maintaining Vertical Focus
Knott said IFS was seeking “real intimacy” with partners. However, they need to be focused on growth.
“We want them to scale vastly,” said Knott. “I don’t want channel partners who are mom-and-pop shops. If you look at our best and our biggest channel partners, they have 200 consultants. And we raise the level of the commercial accounts that line up in value, to encourage them to keep investing, to go after bigger customers.”
IFS has increased its midmarket focus to the enterprise under Roos’ leadership. However, he is determined the vendor maintains its vertical market focus. The verticals are aerospace and defense, energy, utilities and telco, construction and engineering, manufacturing and the service industries.
“We continue to deliver in the same five verticals that we have had since I joined in 2018,” said Roos. “That remains our strategy. Often, I get asked, including by my board members, when are we going to do something outside of these verticals? And my answer is, ‘We’re not.’ The reason is that we can continue to develop depth of capability in these verticals. And that is going to add more value to our customers.”