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Unify leashes direct sales reps as it cozies up to channel types

Listen up people – we'll have rules of engagement

Unify – formerly Siemens Enterprise Comms – is prepping "Rules of Engagement" to govern the behaviour of its direct sales reps as it relies more on channel types to make a living.

The Siemens and Gores Group-owned firm, currently being offloaded to Atos in a sale process expected to close this quarter, has hired ex-Avaya exec Barry Tuffs to lead third-party business in the UK and Ireland.

The shift from direct to indirect sales started in earnest at Unify last year, and followed a period of intense cost cutting that saw 3,800 warm bodies tossed overboard in the pursuit of higher profits.

Tuffs, the new boy on the company block, told The Channel he was brought in to “accelerate” the routes-to-market work.

“Unify has some challenges, cultural, historic – it has a business that is set up for direct selling [in terms of systems and processes] and it takes time to move, but we are moving it,” he told us.

A “Rules of Engagement document” is being worked on now. Tuffs said the direct sales force would still operate in the largest global accounts, but noted “channel partners want clarity”.

Indeed they do: they demand it. HPE CEO Meg Whitman put a lot of emphasis on this, as did Dell and EMC when they were redefining how to reach the great unwashed.

Creating a hard deck of direct sales accounts could help with predictability, but Unify was unable to confirm if this was in the offing, and nor would it tell us at this point how many direct sales people it has.

Tuffs said at present the company does not have a balanced channel, “it is currently very SMB focused”, and he wants to hire more in the mid-market. For those to become loyalists, they’ll want to know that sales reps employed by Unify aren’t sniffing around their sales leads.

Tech suppliers with data centre capabilities, or at the very least those with networking connectivity skills, are in demand by the company. ®

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