Polycom Inc. specializes in communications solutions for telepresence, voice and, in particular, video, powered by the Polycom RealPresence platform. The San Jose, Calif.-based company boasts more than 400,000 corporate customers, mostly large enterprises. Its major markets are healthcare, finance, manufacturing and government. Jim Kruger, senior VP-global solutions marketing, said that because Polycom sells its conference technology largely through resellers, courting and educating the channel is an important part of the company's marketing approach.
CMO Close-Up: Tell us a bit about your outreach to channel partners?
Kruger: Our technology is very experience-oriented. You have to see it to believe it, so we have our channel system that sells through our executive experience centers. We have a sales force of about 800 who develop relationships with our largest customers, but all sales are through the channel. We have about 7,000 reseller partners, some of whom sell thousands of different products and some that focus just on Polycom. So for these resellers, training is a critical part of our strategy. We also do a lot of direct marketing to bring customers to our experience centers. And we have webinars in support of this.
CMO Close-Up: Sales collateral must be an important part of this. Describe yours?
Kruger: We have a reseller portal that they sign in to that contains all our collateral, marketing programs, promotions, data sheets and videos, that they can use and leverage. The most popular is video customer testimonials. That incorporates the customer's voice into our marketing. We also have set a goal of doing one press release a week that also focuses on customers.
CMO Close-Up: We understand that the company's rebranding is an important part of this. Can you tell us more?
Kruger: Our branding efforts started in the depths of the company, about who we are and how we want to go forward. Previously, many people knew us as the conference phone company. Now, our vision is to make video communications ubiquitous. We want to be known as the leader in video collaboration. As a result, we changed our logo and branding to better reflect that. Another key area is around software. Again, people previously knew us as a hardware company, but it's the combination of hardware and software that makes things work. So far, this has been mainly an internal effort, but we'll roll it out officially in 2013.
CMO Close-Up: Tell us a little bit about the future of video communications and Polycom's role?
Kruger: Healthcare is a good example. Video can give doctors the ability to get vital patient information via their iPads and help save lives. For manufacturers, with mobile video you can go out to the assembly line and communicate immediately. And government is about providing better service, such as around crisis planning. One of our key wins was with the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation. With our video technology, we're saving them about $50 million a year by not having to physically transport criminals into the courtroom to testify. There are also horizontal apps that help in interviewing, product development and internal communications. The key here is building relationships and trust. People are more engaged with personal video conversations versus just being on a conference call.