Hydar Al Ammar, Senior Director, Strategic Alliances APJ at Seismic, a US headquartered company that helps marketing and sales teams fulfill their promise to drive revenue together. Al Ammar’s management philosophy focuses on building trust and taking great pride in maintaining transparency with colleagues and channel partners. He explains to us how Seismic is growing its investments and developing its channel business in the APAC and Japan region.
Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?
As Seismic’s Senior Director of Strategic Alliances for the APAC and Japan region, I am responsible for building our partner ecosystem across the APAC and Japan region. This entails identifying potential partners, developing joint value propositions, creating a cohesive go-to-market (GTM) strategy and ensuring strong collaboration between Seismic and our partners to help our joint customers optimise their customer experience and service capabilities, as well as improving sales and marketing alignment. With the rapid growth Seismic has experienced in my time with the company, we have needed to recruit across multiple countries in the region, focusing on different types of partners that can add value to our solution. While this has been challenging – particularly finding the right type and balance of consulting, referral, implementation and value-added reseller (VAR) partners – it’s also what makes my role exciting and fun, especially as we expand in or move to new markets.
Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?
We have developed a partner programme that is tailored to various types of partners, whether they are value-adding, consulting, implementing or referring. With all of these partners, our priority is to establish a strong and cohesive joint GTM strategy which starts with a differentiated value proposition. We also look at ways to create awareness through joint marketing initiatives, while educating our respective frontline sales, customer success and marketing teams. Where technical training is required, we support partners through with Seismic University, which is a self-paced training platform. Lastly, we ensure that implementation partners that are accredited to train have the required hands-on experience through a ‘crawl-walk-run’ approach where we team up on various projects first, laying a strong foundation for the channel.
How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?
Combined with our partner programme, we are focused on ensuring Seismic is a natural extension to what they already offer, giving them sales and marketing enablement plus training capabilities to bolster and add to their existing services. That’s how we are able to serve as a differentiator for our partners as they go to market to win business. A lot of that comes down to building that joint value proposition I mentioned earlier, including flexibility in the fundamentals of our partnerships.
We also focus on enabling our respective sales teams in understanding this joint proposition and knowing when to bring our partners in to ensure we optimise the customer experience. We do this through consistent engagement with our teams and leveraging our own technology to ensure partners have access to the latest information, whether that’s marketing assets such as a one-pager, industry insights, pre-developed presentations or slides to incorporate into their broader messaging, etc. We also have the ability to streamline the account mapping process to identify where the immediate opportunities are between Seismic and the partner. Whether an opportunity comes through us or a partner, we retain constant account collaboration and alignment.
What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?
With the majority of customers in this region having undergone a CRM implementation or transformation in the last 10 years or so, I’m seeing a lot of these consultancies and systems integrators (SIs) focusing more on ISV platforms that bolt-on to CRM technology to help the company’s most important asset – the employees. The goal is to improve the employee experience and support front-line teams to have the best chance of success in their roles. Sellers are faced with complex sales cycles that involve more interactions than ever: there is an increase in the number of people influencing buying decisions, customers now often preferring a remote or digital self-service interaction, and sellers need to build and nurture relationships remotely. Sales is hard, so how can an organisation support and enable them to ensure they are more productive, delivering a differentiated customer experience and closing more deals?
What is your management philosophy?
I firmly believe that any relationship is built on trust – and therefore I take great pride in maintaining transparency in my approach to management, plus fostering an open and collaborative culture – with both my colleagues as well as partners and customers – that are open to trying new things.
When you look back at your career, what has been the most memorable achievement?
I was recognised as a Finalist for an Australian Channel Excellence Award in 2020. To be considered for this industry and peer-reviewed award category was a great personal achievement within the channel segment. I’m also very proud when we get a key win in collaboration with our partners.
What made you think of a career in technology?
I was exposed to software-as-a-service (SaaS) vendors during my time as a consultant at KPMG Australia. In my role, I was involved in numerous projects featuring SaaS technologies and quickly came to understand the impact these could have in a company’s transformation and digitalisation strategy.
However, technology has always been a passion. I love learning about and playing with the latest gadgets and keeping up with emerging technologies, whether it’s the intersection of Blockchain applications in our lives, how AR/VR is moving from a gaming solution to have business application or automation gadgets to make my everyday life easier – like home automation.
What do you think will be the hot technology talking point of 2021?
Sales enablement is certainly evolving very quickly in the APAC and Japan region, taking it from an emerging field to one being considered by all companies. After all, you can’t run a modern business in a digital economy on spreadsheets. We saw the trend emerge in North America more than five years ago and it’s now made its way to Australia, New Zealand and broader Asia. Organisations are optimising their GTM and looking at ways to enable, coach and support their front-line teams with technology. For sales and marketing teams, this means more than just a CRM deployment and that’s what’s fuelling sales enablement.
I also believe that the virtual/digital and physical worlds are intersecting – meaning emerging tech like Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are coming to the forefront. This has really accelerated through the pandemic where everyone was in lockdown but still wanted to interact – attend virtual concerts, watch sporting events and buy clothes/cars, but do it in an engaging and “real” experience. This has also created virtual economies where people can buy, sell or trade digital assets that hold real value. I can see this blurring between virtual/digital and physical continue to happen in 2021, 2022 and beyond.
What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?
While I love advances in technology and the latest gadgets I can use in everyday life, I am even more passionate about all things football (or soccer) – playing, watching, collecting memorabilia – and everything in between. Pre-lockdown you would find me watching games at odd hours of the night/morning with other Chelsea fans at the supporters pub, but these days you’re likely to find me camped in front of the TV whenever there is a game on. It’s a great social outlet to be able to switch off after work and watch a game or go to training, and something I’ve missed dearly during our lockdowns.Click below to share this article