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Siebel takes a dip in the channel

Siebel Systems is introducing a new channel program to go after small and medium-sized businesses for its Siebel OnDemand and Siebel Professional Edition products.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Using channel partners and ramping up its regional marketing efforts, Siebel Systems Tuesday unveiled a plan to target the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market with its hosted and on-site edition CRM software.

Siebel CEO Michael Lawrie announced the creation of a SMB unit within the company headed by Bruce Cleveland, senior vice president and general manager of the OnDemand and SMB division. Lawrie said the initiative includes a new distribution model using partners to sell Siebel's CRM software and a regional telemarketing sales force.

"We believe a significant investment will be made by enterprises in the front office over the next three years," Lawrie said. "Our small and medium-sized business plan is our best opportunity to help reignite our growth engine as we move forward."

The announcement comes about one year after Siebel launched into the hosted CRM market with its OnDemand product to take on San Francisco-based Lawrie said the push for more SMB customers is a natural extension of the hosted model, and Siebel will work with IBM to generate more hosted CRM customers.

For more information

Learn about OnDemand's progress after one year

Read up on Siebel's vertical plans for its hosted software

San Mateo, Calif.-based Siebel defines the SMB space as companies with an annual revenue of $500 million or less. Customers with an annual revenue of under $35 million have been attracted to Siebel's OnDemand product.

Lawrie said Siebel must sell to SMBs differently from its traditional face-to-face sales approach.

Siebel is adding new territory managers to work closely with channel partners and resellers to develop business plans in their regions. Siebel has added six new channel partners in North America and Europe and two partners to focus on the Latin American market.

Cleveland, said that while SMB spending is growing, only 2% of the market has been penetrated so far, making it a very attractive area for Siebel.

"It's a great market to go after, but we also recognize that it has some very unique requirements that we need to meet if we want to capture it," Cleveland said. "We've put a plan in place to execute and sell through our partners in a very strategic way."

Under Siebel's plan, a Siebel sales representative and a technical expert will select, train and certify resellers. Partners will also be assigned a channel manager and will be given a license with support and access to a partner portal.

The plan was developed after analyzing its competitors' SMB strategies. The goal is to take the complexity out of choosing and deploying CRM software, Cleveland said.

"Our program has a very unique spirit and is a different way to give our customers exactly what they're looking for," he said. "It is built on something that has made us very successful yet we adapted it for the SMB space."

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