Service management vendor Cherwell reboots channel program to drive growth

Cherwell has remade its old partner program, which was undiversified and not very effective, and is looking to add a select number of focused reseller and delivery partners.

Matthew Peeples, Vice President of Global Channel, Cherwell

Colorado Springs-headquartered Cherwell has made a major recommitment to their channel. They have revamped their entire approach to their channel to provide more effective management and support of partners. They have also promoted Matthew Peeples to the new role of Vice President of Global Channel.

Cherwell, is a mature company, founded in 2004, the same year as IT Service Management [ITSM] industry-leader ServiceNow, but they are different from ServiceNow in several key ways.

“Like many vendors, we understood that the traditional ITSM world was going through changes, so we developed a platform capable of doing lots of different things in a codeless environment,” Peeples said. “We have a broader focus on service management beyond just IT. Our platform includes facilities services, like adjusting air conditioning, and HR requests, like an expense account for new employees. We don’t compete with systems like Workday, but we plug into them and automate the process to make them more effective. That’s why we have the tagline of ‘we make work flow.’”

Peeples said that Cherwell has a different sweet spot in the market from ServiceNow as well, which they see as more focused on larger enterprises.

“While we do have some large enterprise customers, our sweet spot is more mid-sized enterprises – 10,000-20,000 employees,” he said.

Peeples was, for 20 years, the CEO and founder of a channel partner, Advanced Marketplace. They were a consulting firm with a strong HP focus which developed a specialization in developing business solutions for the Cherwell Service Management platform. Cherwell acquired them in late 2016.

Peeples came on board as Cherwell began to rework its approach to working with partners. He first became their VP of Strategic Alliances, where he reworked their technologically alliances program and created new relationships with companies like Splunk and AWS. In August 2018, he moved to VP of Global Delivery Partnerships, where he worked with both global and regional system integrators. In January he took charge of the full relaunch of Cherwell’s global channel strategy, including traditional Resell and Delivery programs and new programs for MSP, Fulfillment and SI partners.

“We had not been mature in the way we handled the channel,” Peeples said. “We had over 400 partners globally, a mix of reseller, referral and delivery partners, as well as ones from one-off agreements. Most of them were not productive. Every region around the globe was handled differently. In North America, we had no partners providing first and second level support. In EMEA there was some, and APAC was 100 per cent channel-led.”

Peeples said that this was all completely rebooted.

“In 2018, we looked at every partner in our ecosystem, and from those 400 plus partners we terminated or allowed to expire all but 80 relationships, which benefited both us and the partner. This group in the old program was a nucleus of configuration partners. Maybe a third could also do sales and marketing, and were capable of finding their own opportunities. Everything we do now with the channel is focused on growth. We expect the channel to extend our reach into areas that we can’t reach with our direct sales team. It’s the only way to achieve our growth over the next five years.”

The rebooted channel program is designed to stimulate that growth, by providing more focused support and recruiting partners who Cherwell sees as synchronous with their own growth strategy.

“The old program was flat, and didn’t have tiers, and it didn’t differentiate between partners, so everything was the same,” Peeples said. “The new one is a concise, clearly-defined global program, with three tiers – Associate, Premier and Elite. It is designed to scale up.

“We need the partners we have today,” Peeples explained. “We need great configuration partners. But that won’t get us to our growth numbers. The new program is a three-legged stool: a traditional reseller program; a delivery program, the ‘wrench-turners,’ with consulting firms and configuration partners; and the Technology Alliances program.”

Peeples indicated that some resellers at the top of the funnel will also do delivery, while others have no desire to do so, and will subcontract with Cherwell’s professional services to work with the top delivery partners in their region.

Cherwell has used a third-party certification to certify engineers.

“This year, we are extending it,” Peeples said. “We don’t call it a certification yet on the sales side. It’s a proficiency with no exam.”

The goal for this year is to add a select number of partners with focused skill sets.

“We do not want to have 400 partners again,” Peeples said. “It’s about quality. It takes 3-6 months from a partner showing interest to walk through to the point where they are ready to generate pipeline. I’d like to add about 15 productive partners by the end of the year, who can generate and even close deals. By the end of 2020, around 150 partners in the global ecosystem would give that growth capability that we want. These will range from GSIs to boutique shops of 25 employees who have strong vertical expertise around things like EPYC or Workday.”