Ever since I announced I got a job at MongoDB , the question that I got the most has been “what does a VP of global channels do ?”
I grew up as a technologist – not as a business development / channel person. And apart from engineering , I have been a successful sales guy too in later stages of my life . That is the primary reason why I get the question – why did I take a job running channels .
This is how I explained my vision to my friends and family .
Let’s ignore software business and think of a manufacturer of home plumbing supplies . The company’s goal is to revolutionize how modern houses do their plumbing . For this to happen – the important thing is that adoption of the new way of plumbing goes viral – and enough money gets made to keep the business running and growing .
If the goal was to become a high margin company in the shortest time – the idea would have been to sell the minimum possible with the highest prices for product and services . That is not what this company wants to do in our example – it is exactly the opposite . Here the course will be to get as many customers to use the product as possible – irrespective of how much each pays . It is an important distinction – the goal is to radically modernize how people do plumbing .
There are two types of people who generally buy the products – home owners and contractors . One way or other – it’s the home owner who eventually picks up the tab . So it goes without saying that the company must convince home owners to use their product . You cannot take focus away from home owner ever . No one is more important a stake holder to make your goal a reality .
But this is rarely sufficient . If the sales person sold the product – who is going to do the installation of the plumbing ? Who would connect old plumbing to the modern plumbing ? When the bathroom plumbing changes – it usually happens along with redesigning the flooring , faucets, showers etc . Who does that ?
So it is imperative that all the plumbers and bathroom remodelers and general contractors need to be trained in using the new way to plumb . That usually needs them to be convinced this is a better way of doing plumbing , and that home owners will give them business if they have the skills and experience .
To begin with – how many sales people can be hired to go after each home owner ? At some point you want the supplies store to stock your product . Sales person can make a sale and send the home owner to a store to pick up the stuff .
There are other things like bathroom vanities and showers that will need to work with the new way of plumbing . Initially, it might be enough to hire a contractor to connect disparate things by hand with a connector . But some home owners might expect pre-fitted shower heads and vanities that are DIY friendly . So someone needs to convince those manufacturers to work with you to put your way of plumbing into their products for the benefit of your mutual customers.
As the business grows – you want new products to come up that are specifically built for your way of plumbing . You want a large number of people to work with your plumbing to create even more sophisticated solutions for the home owner – to the point that people take it for granted that if they are plumbing , they are using your product as the default . That is when the world of plumbing has been revolutionized .
As people make optimized widgets for your way of plumbing, you might need a one stop shop to help them and your customers – like your own marketplace.
In this entire process – the idea is to help the customer have a better quality of life enabled by your plumbing. You want to reach a state where your plumbing is behind everything in the home – to the extend that no one thinks twice about its presence . You can’t get there by yourself – the plumbers , the general contractors , the retailers , the manufacturers of vanities and shower heads and many others need to work together with a unity of purpose (improving the quality of life of customer) to get there .
And as more and more people work with the product – there will be more things that come up that needs the company to tweak its products and services . The old plumbing companies and you might learn a trick or two from each other – it’s a big world with a place for everyone , especially if everyone plays together and talks to each other .
That is the principle and spirit of channels – and it applies just about the same to software as it applies to plumbing supplies or soaps or cars. No one company can revolutionize the world by itself – but by working in a trusted relationship with several good partners, we can get there together and make some happy and excited and loyal customers .
That is the journey I am embarking on at MongoDB – to help and build and nurture an ecosystem around an amazing product to revolutionize how the world builds applications. I know it will be quite a ride – and I am very sure I will get to work with a lot of people who read this to reach that goal .
Now, Let’s go make our customers successful – and let’s do it TOGETHER !