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What Does It Take to Build a Successful Channel Partnership?

We sit down with two winners from CRN's Women of the Channel Award

We are thrilled to announce that two of our incredibly talented ExtraHoppers have been named to the 2020 Women of the Channel list by CRN.

Leigh Malizia-Carlson, Sr. Channel Sales Manager, Central

Leigh Malizia-Carlson, Sr. Channel Sales Manager, Central

Kathleen Pimentel, Channel Sales Manager, US TOLA Rockies

Kathleen Pimentel, Channel Sales Manager, US TOLA Rockies

The CRN® editorial team selects the honorees to celebrate a list of exceptional women acclaimed for their contributions to channel advocacy, growth, thought leadership, and dedication to the IT channel. We wanted to highlight the accomplishments of these two channel leaders, so we sat down with Leigh and Kathleen to learn more about their perspective on how to succeed in the channel.

Establish Trust

Building trust is paramount to the success of a relationship with any partner. As with most things in life, the first step is to show up. Even though both of our winners manage large regions, they never shy away from good, old-fashioned facetime.

Partners are busy. Every day, they are flooded with emails from vendors vying for their attention. Leaders who take the time to cut through the noise and establish trust through genuine conversation are more likely to succeed. Effective leaders, like Leigh and Kathleen, know that.

Leigh explained her approach, "I never lose sight of the human element. I respect my partners as individuals and I respect their time. I try to make that clear to them by actively listening when they speak." She continued, "It sounds small, but I've heard countless partners say what a difference it makes to them knowing that they've actually been heard, not just sold to."

For Kathleen, trust building is showing that she cares about the partner's entire business, not just the sliver of the pie that concerns her. She makes a point to foster connections and share resources both in and outside of her areas of expertise.

Kathleen shared a story that paints a vivid picture of her approach. "I make a point to connect with as many people as possible. I call the business cards that I collect my 'seashells.' I love gathering seashells and sharing them with people who will appreciate them." Kathleen's spirit of sharing resources makes her very adept at her role in the channel, which is all about building relationships and making connections between the people who have problems and those who have solutions. Years of collecting 'seashells' makes her a trusted source: "I don't have all the answers, but I always know where to go to get the answers."

Build a Win-Win Strategy

Trusting relationships need to be paired with a strategy deeply rooted in the partners' primary objectives. This requires active listening. Both winners underscored one important point: if a partner shares their top objectives and they don't align with your own or your customer's, it's okay to say no.

Kathleen explained, "As tempting as it is to jump at every opportunity, you have to be transparent about when there's alignment and when there's not. Just because there may not be a fit in the moment, doesn't mean there can't be in the future. Being honest about the value that you bring goes a long way in the long run."

Both winners said that they had the most success when they look at the long-term picture. Winning strategies are built on aligning objectives and working together early. Leigh elaborated, "It goes both ways: we have to be super clear about where we play and make sure that we understand the same from the partner. When we align both of our objectives, it's a win-win. I don't believe in a one-and-done approach."

Tailor to the Region

Building an effective strategy also means tailoring your approach to the region. The winners stressed how much variability there is, even state-to-state. Remember how important those in person conversations are? Having boots on the ground also builds a nuanced understanding of the region. For Kathleen and Leigh both, being creative and tailoring events to the local audience is a fun part of the job, but also sets them apart.

ExtraHop Channel

ExtraHop is committed to its sellers and partners in the channel. Leigh emphasized this point: "I feel empowered knowing that I have the support of senior leadership and that of my team. I have autonomy to do what's right for my region. There's trust there. We all work together to build a strategy that will work."

Kathleen chimed in too: "If I had to summarize my approach, it would be that I always show up and try to do the right thing. I am successful because I have the full support of my team and a great product behind me."

About the Winners

Leigh Malizia-Carlson is a global sales leader with experience in channel & strategic alliances, with a demonstrated history of building successful sales teams in the technology industry. She has been entrusted with multi-billion dollar businesses for over 25 years spanning over five continents.

Kathleen Pimentel is an experienced leader with a diverse background driving sales through channel, direct, distribution, OEM and reseller partners. Throughout her career she boldly moved coast to coast, working in different regions, adapting to a variety of work cultures and cultivating relationships across North America.

Both winners come to the table with years of experience–in the channel and in the tech industry. Their unique approaches and keen attention to detail make them experts at navigating the nuances of relationship building and developing synergistic strategies that work for every party and person involved.

We commend our Women of the Channel winners, Leigh Malizia-Carlson and Kathleen Pimentel, for their leadership and commitment to the channel. We encourage you to learn more about ExtraHop's channel partner programs here.

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