Citrix Changing Partner Advisor Rewards For Enterprise Accounts

Beginning January 1, 2012, Citrix will take the lead on sales to approximately 1,100 large enterprise accounts, including some that were previously handled by the channel. As part of the Americas Advisor Rewards Program changes, a partner must have a formal invitation, and be included in a Citrix-developed account plan, to be eligible to receive their Advisor Rewards.

In a blog post Monday announcing the changes, Mike Fouts, senior director of Americas channels and field operations at Citrix, explained that large enterprises have been asking Citrix for a more direct relationship with the vendor's sales teams.

"Through our customer feedback process, we discovered that the majority of our enterprise accounts would feel best served by a Citrix-led account management approach, which provides them with direct access to and response from our sales teams," Fouts said.

Citrix began informing channel partners of the Americas Advisor Rewards Program changes in October, and partners "fundamentally understand" the rationale behind them, according to Fouts.

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The changes didn't come as a shock to Mike Strohl, president of Entisys, a Concord, Calif.-based solution provider. "It sounds like they're sharpening their enterprise strategy, and want to be careful about how they engage in strategic accounts," he told CRN.

However, the Advisor Rewards changes did come as a surprise to some Citrix partners. Dan Weiss, CEO and co-founder of Varrow, a Greensboro, N.C.-based virtualization solution provider, learned of the changes from Fouts' blog post, and he later discovered that several of his existing enterprise accounts are on Citrix's named account list.

The way Weiss sees it, by closely monitoring Advisor Rewards in these top accounts, Citrix is challenging partners to earn their relationship with enterprise customers and to work hand-in-hand with the Citrix sales team to drive business.

"The jury is still out on how this will play out. However, as long as the rules of engagement allow for the customer to nominate a partner of record without any concern about reductions in discount levels, this change should, in theory, not affect partners to any widespread extent," said Weiss.

One of Fouts' first moves after taking over as Citrix's Americas channel chief in October was to stump for closer ties between the company's direct sales teams and the channel.

"We realize that this will change how our partners earn a portion of their revenue, and we’re dedicated to helping them adapt their business models as we move from the PC to the Cloud era in 2012 and beyond," Fouts said in the blog post.

Citrix partners are quick to note that there's still plenty of non-enterprise business out there for them to capture. "The high touch list lets Citrix align better [with larger partners] and it will encourage the channel to go deeper into midmarket accounts," said Paul Kunze, director at IntraSystems, a Braintree, Mass.-based partner. "I feel pretty confident that with the management team we have in the Northeast territory, this won't be a problem."

Citrix has angered its channel partners in the past, such as its August 2006 move to take its Subscription Advantage renewal business direct. These types of moves are by no means uncommon in the enterprise software space, but given Citrix's strong channel track record, the Advisor Rewards changes may look ominous to some partners.

Citrix has made channel program changes in the past with the promise that it would create other profitable opportunities for partners, and the company has generally followed through on these pledges, which is why Entisys' Strohl is willing to give Citrix the benefit of the doubt.

"At least at this point, they haven't done anything to suggest that there will be any negative impact from these changes," Strohl said.