Cologix 10 Year Conversations: Growing the Channel Partner Program with Andre van Zijl, Head of Channel
Cologix 10 Year Anniversary Conversations continue with Andre van Zijl, Head of Channel. Andre has led the Channel Partner Program for the past five years; he has built a team that has been instrumental in developing the partner program to be a key driver of business growth. We sat down to discuss how the program has evolved and grown – and how an education and relationship-building approach has transformed the program.
Tell us about your first day leading the Channel Partner Program at Cologix?
My first day was exciting! The feeling of starting a new job inside a company that you have been a part of for five years was empowering. The Cologix Executive team gave full approval for the partner program to be a strategic pillar of Cologix’s go-to-market strategy. This gave me the confidence to go and find the right team—and that’s what I did, right from the start! Spending my time and energy to find the right people and the right team was invaluable to set Cologix’s Channel Partner Program up for success. Connie Bern, Channel Sales Director, Jeff Rider, Channel Sales Director, and Maggie Terwilliger, Director of Channel Business Development, are the epitome of what a great, collaborative team is and have made all the difference in our success.
Tell us a bit about how the Cologix approach to the Channel Partner Program has evolved over the past 10 years. And tell us – how have you led that evolution?
In the early years, the Cologix team knew that the partner program was going to be one of the ultimate enablers of business growth. That being said, the initial program was fairly simple. The plan was to find partners and educate them on how to sell Cologix services. However, in the past few years, we have grown beyond that. We’ve built out an entire team that is dedicated to growing, nurturing, and enabling partners day-to-day. This was a critical step in Cologix business development. Since building a full team, we have seen an increase of over 40% in new business revenue. By any standard, that is massive. Today, partners truly are an extension of the sales team and they enable us to reach more customers and expand what we can offer. Through offering full-service solutions, we’ve increased the value we can offer partners, and in turn, strengthened those partner relationships. We truly work alongside our partners in a collaborative manner, enabling each other to grow.
How have Channel Partner Program needs changed in the past 10 years?
Another change is that partners are now known as ‘trusted advisors’ to guide their customers. In that respect, the more we can educate our partners the better we can empower them to truly become a ‘trusted advisor’. This changes the whole approach to working with channel partners and agents. My team is looking to build longer-term relationships and really dig into how we can empower our partners. Their success is our success!
Where have you seen the most growth in the Channel Partner Program?
Cloud access and the demand for edge deployments with data and computing close to the end-user have had the biggest impact on our Channel Partner Program. The demand for cloud access has changed the use case applications and expanded the services that Cologix can offer. This, in turn, has opened up new possibilities to scale, reach, and expand services for our partner clients. Currently, over 90% of all our agent opportunities are centered around enabling access to the cloud. And the way Cologix offers that access is through a full-service comprehensive solution via cloud onramps and ecosystem fabric. Once a customer moves into a Cologix data center, they have everything they need from an ecosystem perspective. All connectivity, cloud, and software-as-a-service needs can be accessed from within a Cologix data center So when we talk about growth, it comes down to cloud access, expanding services and capacities, and being able to offer a richer more connected solution for a customer.
What is the most enjoyable part of working in the channel program?
At its core, our job is relationship building. Without relationships, the channel line of business would cease to exist. So, the best part of this job is that we get to create, build and nurture relationships with our partners every single day.