FalconStor Software is beefing up its channel program with more marketing muscle for its solution providers, a move its partners said has been long in coming.
The change has been coming over the last nine to 12 months, including gradually investing more in channel marketing, said Camberly Bates, chief marketing officer for the Melville, N.Y.-based developer of storage virtualization software and hardware.
About 60 percent of FalconStor's $55 million revenue comes from the channel, with the other 40 percent coming from OEMs, Bates said.
New to FalconStor's channel program is a three-tiered structure. At the top are 23 elite partners who commit to a minimum yearly revenue of $750,000 and who have at least two technical and four sales certifications, Bates said. The second level, premier partners, commit to revenue of $350,000 and carry one technical and three sales certifications, while associate partners need to have one technical and two sales certifications, she said.
In return, elite partners are eligible for sales rebates and market development funds, while premier partners get MDF on a case-by-case bases, she said.
Also new is the addition of professional trainers for the first time. These trainers now offer two training tracks: one on virtual tape libraries and the other on IPstore software, the latter of which includes training o continuous data protection, replication and disk-based backups.
The company has also invested in a learning management system, Bates said. "That way, if someone who is certified moves on to another solution provider, the certificate stays with that person," she said. "The company from which they left has a certain time to get re-certified."
The changes come at the same time FalconStor has been investing in channel marketing. The company in November hired Tony Salvia to the new position of director of channel marketing. Salvia had been marketing to Latin America for the previous 18 months after an eight-year stint at Symbol Technologies, where he was director of channel marketing.
The company also introduced in the last few months a new MDF program, a lead-generation program, four additional dedicated inside channel sales reps and a deal registration program that offers VARs an average discount of 30 percent for registered deals, Bates said.
Greg Knieriemen, vice president of marketing at Chi, a Cleveland-based solution provider and one of FalconStor's biggest solution providers, said he welcomes the investment the company is making in channel marketing.
Evidence of the need for channel marketing comes from the fact that Knieriemen did not know FalconStor hired Salvia. "FalconStor's channel marketing has been lacking," Knieriemen said. "I've told them that."
The kind of channel marketing that FalconStor is offering is extremely important, Knieriemen said. "Aside from nailing down the appropriate interoperability issues, their highest priority should be marketing," he said. "As I look at the programs other vendors have rolled out, FalconStor has some catching up to do. For instance, I've been developing my own e-mail templates. I prefer the vendor does it. They know the product better than I do."