Channel InfluencersInterviews

Channel Influencers Need to Understand How the Local Market Works

Mahmoud Al Yahya, the Head of Production Technology Business of Xerox Middle East Operations, speaks to Arabian Reseller about the qualities a channel influencer needs to possess.

What is your career history to date and key career achievements?
I worked as a Business Development Leader with over 14 years’ experience in leading technology business development teams in multinational organizations across highly pressurized economic environments. I am currently the Head of Production Technology Business and a Regional Partner Manager for the Middle East and Africa.

What are your roles and responsibilities in the company as a channel influencer?
As a channel influencer, it is my responsibility to setup new Xerox channels. For example, I have recently executed this activity in Pakistan and Iraq. I also manage sales distribution channels and processes across the Gulf Council of Countries. Additionally, overseeing distributors across the Middle East, collaborating with country general managers, review business plans, strategy and evaluate profits and loss are all a part of my job.

Every channel influencer should be able to analyze local markets and ensure optimum positioning of technology, product, skills, coverage and processes. Some of my responsibilities include assessing the coverage strategy of distribution channels, introducing new partners where required, developing cloud-based Sales Management Processes, emphasizing regulation run rate, constructing large deals, deal planning and monitoring B/T process. I mentor in-country sales directors, oversee training plans delivered and ensure that they are aligned with the company’s strategy.

What qualities should a channel influencer possess to lead the channel?
In my opinion, channel influencers should understand how the local market operates and should have strategic planning aptitude. The ability to ensure the alignment of activities with the brand strategy is key. Every channel influencer must focus on developing clear KPIs and supporting channel to achieve them in the most efficient way. There is no question that being an effective communicator is an essential quality as constant communication with stakeholders is necessary.

What is your advice on finding success in the channel?
There are four very important elements to find success in the channel. First, the strategy of the channel and the vendor should be clearly aligned. Second, you should focus on the channel’s short, mid and long-term plans for growth. Third, everyone that is part of the channel program should be continuously trained and equipped with the right tools of development. Last but not least, communication is a necessary ingredient of success. Constant communication will help you identify the channel’s plans and align their strategy with yours.

How would you assess the current state of channel?
Channels in the Middle East are becoming more mature. With the availability of different media for communication and training, there is a significant development in the capability of the channel to become a true extension and accurate representation of the brand.

What is the biggest challenge facing the IT channel in the region?
There are currently two main challenges that the IT channel is facing. The first is being able to retain expertise of skilled employees. Hence, it is very important to continuously train even the skilled employees. Similarly, dealing with vendors who are willing to invest time and effort to develop the channel remains a challenge in the region.

If you could improve one thing about the channel business what would it be?
It would be very valuable to have channels invest more in people development via skill enhancement workshops and trainings.

How can partners work effectively to generate growth?
To generate growth, partners need to execute joint planning sessions that will help them collaborate, map out goals and objectives, and align the strategies of both parties. Transparent communication must be a common practice between channel partners. Finally, the training and development of employees through online or face-to-face training and on-job coaching will equip the channel with the necessary skills to grow.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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