Yesterday The Channel Company announced its 2024 CRN Channel Chiefs list. Every year, this list honors the IT channel executives who work tirelessly to advance the channel agenda and develop channel strategies that make partners successful.
The 2024 CRN Channel Chiefs were selected by the editorial staff based on their record of business innovation and dedication to the partner community. We are excited to announce that Jason Beal, Maria Martinez, and Karen Ward were recognized this year. Jason, Maria, and Karen are Barracuda executives with significant channel expertise, and they are key players in our global partner program.
Here are some highlights and comments from their 2024 CRN Channel Chief profiles:
Jason Beal, VP, Worldwide Partner Ecosystems, Barracuda Networks
Jason has over 20 years of IT channel leadership experience across companies of all sizes in a diversity of roles. His background in channel leadership, international sales, and operations and services management gives him a well-informed perspective as a channel leader. He is also an adjunct professor for Chapman University’s Executive MBA program in the Argyros School of Business and Economics. As Barracuda’s first global channel leader, Jason works to deliver on what makes partners successful. He has taken a channel-centric company operating regionally and strengthened it by moving to a harmonized global organization that operates across all major channel motions, anywhere in the world. He architected this new program to support partners and meet their current and anticipated needs.
Partner empathy is the foundation of Jason’s personal channel philosophy.
“Channel partners have repeatedly demonstrated that they want to do business with those they know, like, and trust. Every survey in history asking partners what they need for successful vendor partnerships has yielded the same results: 1) Ease of doing business, 2) Understanding of how they make money and maximize profitability, 3) Trust, transparency, and channel integrity, 4) Support and responsiveness when help is needed with customers.”
Barracuda added a team of dedicated channel systems engineers specifically to support the needs of channel partners. The new partner program also included more technical training roadshows, the first Americas partner conference, and a new MSP app. Everything about the program is designed with the success of the partners in mind. One of the keys to genuine partner empathy is to develop a full understanding of how the channel works.
“My advice to someone starting out in the channel is that networking and building relationships is critical to success because this is a small industry. You also need to learn the entire ecosystem and how it works from the perspective of vendors, distributors, partners, and customers. It’s a complex, interconnected ecosystem, so if you understand how it all works together, the more success you’ll have. You can’t have empathy for your channel partners if you don’t understand the challenges they’re facing.”
Maria Martinez, VP of Channels, North America, Barracuda Networks
Maria has managed many different partner types and sales channels throughout her career. She is a servant leader who approaches teams and relationships with a deliberate focus on elevating the success of others. Her leadership style, technical knowledge, and ability to communicate and connect with others have helped her uplevel Barracuda’s engagement with partners. Maria’s personal channel philosophy is to enable partners to achieve successful outcomes.
“Say what you do and do what you say – you need to be reliable and earn your partners’ trust. Have empathy for your partners by understanding what matters to them and creating a plan aligned to drive mutual success.”
Maria believes that the greatest challenge for partners comes down to growth:
“In times of macroeconomic pressure, achieving growth can be challenging. Similarly, an election year is often associated with uncertainty. Therefore, it’s crucial to enable our partners with playbooks that help them design, build, and deploy successful outcomes for our mutual customers.”
To this end, Barracuda made several investments in the Barracuda Partner Success Program, including increased headcount, enablement campaigns, and a new rebate program. Maria led the effort to evangelize the new Barracuda channel strategy and has been instrumental in communicating the strategy internally. She’s led many one-to-one and one-to-many sessions to share information and gather feedback.
Karen Ward, Regional Vice President, MSP Sales, Americas, Barracuda Networks
“Over the last year, I helped establish a go-to-market plan for our MSP sales division in North America, led our sales team to double-digit growth of annual contract value year-over-year in the first half of the fiscal year with a shared success model, and maintained strong employee retention.”
She has also supported Barracuda’s work to strengthen our partners’ security and their ability to sell security solutions. This included creating an XDR overlay team to work with MSPs:
“The XDR overlay team is made up of subject matter experts aligned with our sales team, who take channel partners through a sales process to help them adopt the solution internally. Once the partner has implemented the solution internally, the XDR overlay team then trains the partners on how to use the same sales process with their customers. Because they are specialized, this team establishes trust and provides a lot of value to our partners.”
Karen also believes that partners should get complete support from their vendors, including a wide range of services that are easy to sell and manage. Sales and marketing support are also critical to ensure a partner’s success.
Note: This was originally published at Journey Notes
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