Guest Column | July 13, 2018

Building A Channel Program At BetterCloud

A conversation with Emily Cataldo, BetterCloud

MSPs Hiring, Training Advice

BetterCloud — SaaS security for applications such as G Suite, Dropbox, Slack, and Office 365 — recently hired their first VP of Channel, Emily Cataldo who will be responsible for the strategy, management, and expansion of BetterCloud’s channel partner ecosystem including resellers, services, and distribution partners across all the applications the company supports.

Cataldo took time to speak with Software Business Growth, answering questions about why she joined BetterCloud and her vision for the future, as well as offering advice for other software companies looking to start or grow a channel program.

Q: What factors were behind the decision to hire a VP-level role for BetterCloud’s channel team?

Cataldo: The company has always been bullish on a channel-driven growth strategy, and the timing was finally right for us to invest in someone to lead this area of the business. SaaS is exploding within the enterprise and the evolution of our platform is prompting a need for channel partners to play an even bigger role in managing companywide implementations and integrations. IT departments now to have to manage a stack of applications — from G Suite to Slack to Dropbox. Many of the SaaS applications integrate with each other and they all require close management and policies to ensure data security. Partners add significant value in ensuring customers are able to manage this growing ecosystem of applications within their organizations.

Q: What convinced you to join the BetterCloud team as the company’s first VP-level hire for a channel role?

Cataldo: The culture, leadership, and product were all massive draws. I got to know the BetterCloud team through my work in the Google ecosystem at Cloud Sherpas and Accenture. Being in the middle — between vendors and customers — gave me an inside look at what was really happening in SaaS. I saw firsthand how the application stacks at our customers was growing over the years and the complexity was becoming more and more difficult for them to manage. BetterCloud offers a unique solution to this problem — they are the first SaaS Operations Management platform that has such breadth of integrations. For the first time, IT has control over applications and is able to implement policies that provide efficiency and security. An incredible shift was taking place with BetterCloud at the helm and I wanted to have a bigger role in that movement.

Q: What is your vision for how the channel team will be structured in the future?

Cataldo: The focus for the last few years has largely been on expanding the product. Now that BetterCloud has 10 integrations/connectors with depth in the integrations, customers are seeking advisory, implementation, and security services to ensure they are leveraging BetterCloud, coupled with industry best practices. We are bullish on growing the partner channel, hence my joining the company.

I envision growing a team of channel managers dedicated to nurturing relationships with our partners. I also plan to implement new enablement/training programs, expand marketing support, and scale resources to supporting our partners’ services engagements.

Q: What is important for other channel executives to communicate to C-level teams within software companies and what data do you plan to share with the leadership team?

Cataldo: For software companies today, the channel should be a key piece of their go-to-market strategy. SaaS technologies are more integrated than ever — through APIs and connectors — making it critical for companies to have support for proper implementation and resources for ongoing management.

The first metric to share with the leadership team will be the overall impact of the channel — how much pipeline is being generated; how many deals we’re closing; retention and growth from existing customers; partner marketing initiatives, etc.

Second, partnership strategy and engagement levels — what are we doing to improve recruiting, onboarding, enabling, and scaling the partner channel?

Last but not least, the investment we are making towards the growth of our partners — how are we helping them grow their businesses and launch new service lines? Are we providing sufficient training? Is the revenue they are generating from our partnership impactful to their businesses?

Q: How will success be measured for BetterCloud’s channel team?

Cataldo: We’re looking to grow our channel, so we want to see a robust and active partner ecosystem. There are key pipeline and sales-related metrics we want to see growth in. We also want to form new and strategic partnerships.

Q: Based on your past experience with channel partners, what has been your best tool for recruiting new channel partners?

At the end of the day, the best way to recruit partners is to show how our platform will help their customers. Further, we need to clearly illustrate the partnership opportunity. To recruit effectively, there needs to be a market, you need a clear value proposition, and you need a business model — mainly revenue streams — that your partners will get excited about.

It is easiest to recruit and onboard partners when there is alignment in business strategy and customers (both targets and existing customers), and commitment of joint go-to-market initiatives. Today, we are recruiting and enabling services partners in the ecosystems of our technology partners (Google, Okta, Dropbox, etc.).

Q: What advice do you have for other software companies who are considering either creating or growing their channel program?

Cataldo: My first piece of advice is to prioritize and invest in partners in order to create scale. That said, it is about the quality of partners and ensuring you have the right partners — not quantity. Every partnership requires investment of resources from both sides, so I would avoid the tendency some have to sign up as many partners as they can. It is important to invest and double down on the partners with aligned strategy and mutual commitment to the investment in the partnership.