Ingram Micro is restructuring its SMB Alliance and GovEd Alliance programs with new enhancements, resources and annual fee structures with a goal of creating more interactive and engaged peer-to-peer communities for solution providers.
"It will be a more engaged atmosphere. In the past, we had thousands of partners that were deemed SMB Alliance members but what we didn’t really necessarily have was a community with the numbers as large as they were," said John Fago, senior director of channel marketing at Ingram Micro. "We're doubling down our engagement with partners interested in taking a deeper level of engagement."
SMB Alliance expects to reduce its membership to about 500 from north of 1,500 partners. It will be a more manageable number to become a real interactive community, Fago said.
"You will see a smaller group than in the past. That's intentional. We're still marketing to the masses. We're still in control of a broad group of SMB resellers, the 17,000 we service today in the business and we'll still be serving all the partners in the public sector business, but it will be for those looking for deeper engagement," Fago said.
SMB Alliance members will be subject to minimum requirements that were not explicitly forced before, Fago said, including: at least a 50-percent focus on SMB customers with less than 1,000 seats, at least one vendor technical certification and at least 50 percent sales through Ingram Micro. Public Sector Elite members also have new certifications: at least percent focus on public sector and a 60 percent share of sales through Ingram Micro.
"We're doing a better job of managing more tightly to those [requirements]. We want to make sure we have the right people in the bucket. We invest a lot in these partners. We want to make sure they [reciprocate] those efforts. We're getting more loyalty and accountability," Fago said.
New benefits to SMB Alliance for 2012 are six months of free pre-sale technical support, a discount on registration fees for the Ingram Micro Cloud Summit, a dedicated services inbox for community members with a four-hour SLA and an airfare voucher to attend one SMBA Invitational, according to the distributor.
The big difference between the new SMB Alliance and Ingram's other big partner community, VentureTech Network, is that the latter group has more established, mature VARs with well-connected relationships across the channel, while SMB Alliance VARs are more "up and coming," Fago said.
"[SMB Alliance] are emerging partners. They may not have invested in how to leverage relationships as fluidly. They may not be working with other partners in the channel collaboratively like within VTN," he added.
If VentureTech is the Major Leagues, then SMB Alliance is Triple-A. And there's a chance you could get called up to The Show. "Some partners might evolve out of SMB Alliance into VTN," Fago said.
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