Paul Harris

Doug Woodburn
clock • 6 min read
Paul Harris

Name: Paul Harris

Role: Head channels UK & Ireland, Poly

Spirit animal: Great white shark/crocodile

Walk-on song: Mama's Gonna Knock You Out

How would you summarise Poly's channel philosophy?

Poly has a channel-only go to market strategy. The channel is critical to everything we do and is a vital extension to the Poly sales team. At Poly, everything that we do is done as part of a team, and if we have successes, we celebrate them together.

I used to be a hip hop DJ on pirate radio when I was a student, and 30 years later I still have a crazy passion for collecting hip hop/rap vinyl records

Tell us about Poly's partner programme in 100 words or fewer…

Our partners' successes depend on their ability to differentiate themselves based on reputation, service delivery capability, and complementary skills. The Poly Partner Programme is built around the three "C's": contribution, commitment and capabilities. It offers our partners flexibility, that enables both the sales/technical led, or the marketing led partners to build a joint business plan to develop their Poly business and partner status. The Poly Partner Programme allows partners to differentiate themselves in the market through achieving the different metal level tiers (Silver, Gold, and Platinum), product certifications, product specialisations for voice, video and headsets and services specialisations.

How many partners do you work with in the UK?

We have active partners in the thousands in the UK & IRE and my team directly manages 10 per cent of our active reseller base, which represents about 70 per cent of our revenues.

Are you looking either to expand or reduce that? If so, what partner profile does this apply to?

My key priority is to continue to invest and grow revenues and partner profitability with our existing loyal partners and, where required, we will strategically work with new partners.

Have you made any major changes to your partner programme recently, or are you about to?

We made some small tweaks to the Poly Partner Programme during FY22 which provided partners with more flexibility and the opportunity for our metal tier partners to differentiate themselves and earn more predictable rebates.

I'd like to see our partners invest in voice and video technical knowledge aligned to our key ecosystem partners Microsoft and Zoom

Describe your perfect partner?

That's a difficult question as it's possible to segment the channel into many different partner types. However, the perfect partner for me is a partner that wants to engage pro-actively with Poly at all levels, sales, pre-sales, technical, and marketing. A partner that invests in the Poly partnership driving a joint business and marketing plan and drives sales engagement, sales and technical knowledge of our products, solutions, and services to enable them to succeed in the market.

In which areas would you most like to see your partners invest over the next 12 months?

I'd like to see our partners invest in voice and video technical knowledge aligned to our key ecosystem partners Microsoft and Zoom. The market is evolving so fast with lots of aggressive and strong competition, we need the channel to be fully knowledgeable around the fast-moving pace of our solutions capabilities and key differentiators.

How do you see vendor channel programmes and channel engagement models evolving over the next few years? 

The key elements for any partner programme are around partner enablement, profitability, and ease of doing business. All vendors strive to continue to improve their ability to deliver this to the channel.  The channel continues to evolve, and vendors need to continue to move with the times to align to the channel. I believe more and more vendors will build in elements to their partner programme, to support influencers and consultants who do not actually sell or transact the solutions themselves but are influential to partners and customers decisions around technology and services.

What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

After a couple of challenging years impacted by COVID, my key priority for my channel team is to get back face-to-face in front of partners. My other channel priorities are to (1) drive partner sales and technical enablement to ensure the channel is armed to win in the market and (2) FY23 is all about driving revenue growth/ market share and partner profitability as we encounter the once in a lifetime market opportunity brought to us be the "hybrid revolution".

Do you feel Poly is doing enough to cater for non-resale partners, including those that sell technology as a managed service, ISVs or agents?

This is an area that Poly has been looking at over the last financial year, and I expect to see these types of partners being brought into our partner programme in the future, as I believe this is critical to our success in the channel.

Is direct-channel conflict ever an issue in your partner ecosystem, and if so how do you mitigate that? 

The priority for me is an open and honest conversation with the partners or the internal channel account managers to ensure we act with integrity with our partners and ensure we maintain trust and openness.

Name one trait you prize highly in partners, and one you deplore? 

The key trait I prize highly from partners is: honesty and openness. I really appreciate open and honest feedback whether positive or negative, so that we can proactively address any challenges or issues and remove any barriers for Poly to jointly succeed with our partners. We celebrate our partners success at the Channel Partner of the Year Awards which are held at our annual Poly Partner Together UK Roadshow too, where we praise the quality of their work and success in the channel. For example, this year we praised partners including: Insight, Gamma, Computacenter, CDW, SCC & ProAV.

The one trait I don't like is partners who commit to a plan and then pause, with nothing moving in motion. It often feels like a one-sided Poly plan whereas we want to get the thoughts of our partners and include their ideas. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often.

How do you feel Poly's margin proposition stacks up against your peers?

I believe Poly sits in a strong position against our competition in terms of channel margins across both transactional margin and contribution margin (back-end margins driven through the Poly Partner Programme Rebates and Product Rebates) which we have strengthened over the last 12 months, enabling partners a more predictable and greater rebate opportunity to drive partner profitability.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one aspect of your channel performance or strategy overnight, what would it be?

I would love my magic wand to grant me 100 per cent services attachment rate to our video hardware sales

I would love my magic wand to grant me 100 per cent services attachment rate to our video hardware sales.

What's the most challenging aspect of being a channel leader?

Not having enough hours in the day and keeping up to date with what all our competitors are doing.

Tell us something about yourself most people won't know

I used to be a hip hop DJ on pirate radio when I was a student, and 30 years later I still have a crazy passion for collecting hip hop/rap vinyl records.

What is your spirit animal? 

Either a great white shark or crocodile - strong, fearless and they are survivors.

What would be your walk-on song, and why?

LL Cool J - Mama's Gonna Knock You Out - must be the competitive side of me.

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