Ivanti updates its progress on major channel program changes

After some major and not overly successful channel changes, Ivanti brought in Michelle Hodges from outside in late 2022. The changes since then have seen a major revitalization of the channel, and a significant growth in channel sales.

Michelle Hodges, Senior Vice President, Global Channels and Alliances, Ivanti

In late 2022, IT management platform provider Ivanti introduced a new channel program, new channel leaders and a new channel strategy designed to overhaul the one they had previously, which was not effective and tended to antagonize partners as much as anything else. Now, over a year later, the company believes that it has made significant progress, and considers their partner summit at the Ivanti Solutions Summit 2024 this week to have been a major success.

Ivanti’s channel originally grew deeply  confusing and complex as it embarked on multiple major acquisitions from its original founding companies, LANDESK and HEAT, following that original 2017 combination. Initially, they incorporated all the acquired channels into a new organization, without much effort to integrate them or improve their ability to cross-sell and upsell with other assets. They focused on far fewer partners and took renewals from partners and centralized them in a new business unit, with the intention of increasing customer satisfaction. Instead by not replacing the renewals with anything else, they antagonized many existing partners.

After some internal efforts to solve the problem, Ivanti recruited Michelle Hodges from the channel lead job at GitLab to become Senior Vice President, Global Channels and Alliances, and John Beuchert, who came from Freshworks and became Vice President, Global Partner Programs. Together they were tasked with getting the channel back into shape.

“We started with the Board’s guidance and set some simple metrics,” Hodges stated. “We instituted Project Restore, establishing areas of enablement, rules of engagement and value agreements, and then set about knocking them down by Q1.”

“By the end of Q2 2003, metrics had stabilized, and by the of Q3 had returned to growth,” Hodges stated. “By the end of Q4, they were growing faster than the direct business and that of the company as a  whole.”

Hodges said that this represented a remarkable rebound. While on the one hand, the changes which had antagonized partners were not, in her view, insurmountable, providing that Ivanti showed the right loyalty and trust and made the right investments, those all had to be made.

“Initially, when I came in I couldn’t get a meeting NOT to be shouted at by a channel partner,” she said. “But they gave us a chance, and we talked about the technology and value opportunities and gave us the opportunity to go after them.”

Hodges believes strongly that the Pareto Principle (80-20%) works in all places,  especially the channel.

“It helped at reorienting them to be successful, to take the on-prem SaaS component and upsell and cross sell,” she said. “We spent a lot of times last year on the heavy lifting, particularly around Cherwell and now we know how to do it. Pulse Secure was also where a lot of the growth started.”

Hodges said that channel Go-to-Market strategy that there when she arrived was too scattershot to be really effective.

“There were routes to market all over the place, with different strategies for areas like telco and channel distribution,” she stated. “Now all these indirect routes are under me. We had eight or nine different routes to market, and we needed to determine how we can invest disproportionately in the ones which are the real drivers to our growth,” she stated. “This also involved re-establishing the value agreements across all components. The focus is no longer just on renewals, but on engagement and focus and all those things. We are also enhancing opportunities for our partners, especially in more newly acquired businesses like MobileIron, to grow their business.”

Ivanti followed a very specific and intertwined ecosystem strategy in executing all this.

“The hyperscaler that builds the funnel needs to be aware of and partnered with the GSI that’s doing the transaction and the DMR that executes on it,” she said. “You need to build programs that are not siloed. This requires enabling your sales people to understand that so that you can create the best system for the customer.”

Hodges indicated that this was all laid out to partners this week.

“At Partner Summit, we needed to empower the vision and enable the motion,” she said. “For them the money we make in this cross-sell integration will keep them in it for a long time .”

The partner summit and advisory boards are new.

“This is the first time in four years,” Hodges said. “They were well received and helped make this a really good event. I liked how we presented both to ourselves and the other organizations, and emphasized how they have invested in the channel.”