EPOS, which took the US and gaming products in the 2020 split of Sennheiser, had never had a structured overall program in the Sennheiser days, but has reworked the program, believing that was necessary to scale their growth.
EPOS, part of the Demant Group, has launched their EPOS AMPLIFY partner program. The company, which comes out of the audio space and makes UCC [unified communications and collaboration] products, was created out of last year’s split of Sennheiser, and wound up with the part of the portfolio that is more typically handled by the IT channel. The new partner program is part of the new company’s more systematic approach to expansion, and replaces the more informal and local approach to partner management that had characterized the company as Sennheiser.
The split saw William Demant holdings, a Denmark-based holding company, get fifty per cent of the old Sennheiser Communications joint venture – the Enterprise Solutions, and the Gaming business. Sennheiser received the microphone business, and the consumer music business part of the audio business, which is very complementary to their core microphone business. The microphone and consumer business will retain the Sennheiser name. The UCC part has been branded EPOS, and, importantly, retains the Sennheiser branding on the UCC products.
“Demant also clearly communicated that we would continue to invest in the business and expand sales and marketing presence,” said Lars Riis Rasmussen, Senior Vice President of Global Sales at EPOS Enterprise. “Last summer, we announced four different products, including a flagship UCC headset.”
Part of the reason for the dissolution of the old joint venture between Demant and Sennheiser was to allow the Demant business to pursue a more aggressive expansion strategy than the family-owned Sennheiser typically wanted. The old channel program was somewhat of an obstacle to this strategy, however, because the channel was typically run according to local standards.
“Before, there was no official channel program at all,” Rasmussen said. “We are a true global company. “We have an Americas theatre, and a strong footprint in EMEA, especially in the U.K., Benelux, France, and the Nordics. In the last five years, we have built a strong presence in APAC. The old program was run in a more informal way, and very much driven by local sales and marketing conversations. That served us well for a long time – but to scale it, we needed to make it consistent across global markets. So we did a best practices review, and combined it all into a uniform consistent program, and we also put our ear to the ground and talked with partners about what they wanted. It was time to put it into this uniform structure.”
The changes start with a move away from straight tiering by revenue which had been used in the past. The EPOS AMPLIFY program has four tiers: Platinum, Gold, Silver and Registered.
“For EPOS AMPLIFY, we wanted to balance tiers and have more of a fine balance between the revenue and qualitative aspects, which we think will improve quality in our channel,” Rasmussen said. “The tiers are now determined by a combination of revenue, and participating in e-learning and education. Certifications and going through the e-learning sessions are part of the program today.” Platinum partners are required to certify three EPOS experts, Gold need two, and Silver one.
“Our ambition is that on the top Platinum tier, we and the partner will build a marketing plan together and a sales plan together,” Rasmussen noted. “We are trying to do more enablement than in the past, which includes marketing and investment, and around things like sampling products with our Product Sampling Program, and especially new product introductions. We really want to create a strong element of working together.” The program also includes the expected table stakes of a mature vendor program, including deal registration, Special Price Support and MDF. Silver tiers and up are eligible for the MDF, although the higher tiers do get more.
Like the other big UCC vendors, EPOS has a large channel, approximately 6000 partners, but is not looking to jack those numbers up with the new program.
“We have been fairly consistent in the size of our channel. “Rasmussen said. “EPOS is a new brand, but we have been in the market for a long time. When we started, we were very focused on recruitment, but today, our focus is more on increasing engagement with the partners we have.”
Rasmussen said that they do hope the new program will create more brand loyalty.
“Our reseller base we are engaging with may sell our competitors as well,” he noted. “For us, it’s about catching mindshare. Hopefully, the program will create a lot of value-add to our partners, and high levels of engagement with us.”