BEA Engages Partner Base

The effort is paying off with a more enthusiastic and engaged partner base than the company has had in years. That’s not to say the road has not been bumpy along the way. Last year’s departure of BEA channel chief Bobby Napiltonia temporarily slowed planning and execution, and sparked some concern in the channel about BEA’s indirect sales commitment. The exit of the popular Napiltonia, who joined to build its partner program, followed closely on the heels of departures by BEA colleagues Mercedes Ellison (now at Hyperion) and Scott Edgington, adding to the uncertainty.

And yet after a period of transition in the group, BEA seems to be on a clear course. Rob Ontiveros, a seven-year veteran with the company, took over the role of running BEA’s Americas channels and alliances early last year. Since then, BEA has increased head count in its channel organization by “10 times” the single-digit roster of the past. Although he would not be specific in terms of dollar amount, Ontiveros says BEA has also “doubled-down” its investment in channel activities, training and resources.

That said, he has characterized BEA’s channel strategy approach as rather humble. “We know we are not the first to try to build a reseller channel or to leverage partners in the midmarket, so we are not pretending that we have it all figured out,” he says. Instead, BEA’s channel architects have studied other vendor programs to learn what has worked well and what has not.

With 1,900 partners globally and three distributors signed up, BEA is about to roll out its first deal-registration program. And the company is on track to fulfill a two- to three-year goal of driving 10 percent to 20 percent of its license revenue through partners, Ontiveros says, not including the services opportunity that partners have, above and beyond the sale of BEA software.

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The services play looms large for BEA partners, he says. For example, BEA is adamant today about offering partners predictable margins, even if nonstandard pricing is required for a deal. That way, partners can focus more of their energies on providing lucrative services to customers and stop wasting time negotiating price and margin with BEA.

Another cornerstone of the new BEA is its commitment to eradicating channel conflict, which has plagued the company in the past due to its direct-sales culture.

As part of the new programs, all BEA sales reps are paid on all VAR transactions. Additionally, sales reps who engage a VAR in one of their BEA-sourced opportunities—early on in the sales cycle, through closure—get a 20 percent increase on what is earned on the deal. Last, reps have VAR quotas as part of their bonus incentives.

“Basically, if you take a VAR to dance, you dance with them all the way,” Ontiveros says. “No switching midstream.”