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Riverbed Overhauls Channel Program In Pursuit Of $4.6B New Business Opportunity

"We need partners to bring Riverbed into their customer base where they haven't brought us in before," said Bridget Bisnette, Riverbed vice president global channels and commercial sales.

Riverbed is launching a new channel program designed to push partners to win new business and help the vendor make a transition from its foundation in WAN optimization to selling Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and other technologies delivered as-a-service on a recurring revenue basis.

To accomplish that, Riverbed's channel executives have overhauled the company's program. Known as Riverbed Rise, the program moves away from an emphasis on partner tier status and toward a system that allows for greater partner flexibility and autonomy.

"We need partners to bring Riverbed into their customer base where they haven't brought us in before," said Bridget Bisnette, Riverbed vice president global channels and commercial sales. "A lot of times, we're viewed as a WAN optimization company, and that's the wheelhouse they sell us in. We need them to bring us in with SD-WAN. We need them to do that with both new logos and our install base. We're a channel company. Our route to market is partners. We can't be successful unless our partners are aligned with our sales teams."

[Related: Cradlepoint Pivots To Subscription-Based, Software-First Sales Model, Says Partners Will Now Have Closer Ties To The Customer Journey]

The new program was introduced today and will reach full implementation in August.

Bisnette said Riverbed partners have a tremendous opportunity in front of them. "We assessed the portfolio and the customer market that was available to Riverbed, and in America alone, we identified $4.6 billion worth of TAM that was now available to Riverbed that was not available to Riverbed a year, or 18 months before," Bisnette said. "The changes in consumption makes it easier to sell as-a-service rather than a hardware transaction. It has opened up the market for us. We're focused on our sales, and we're incentivizing our partners to hunt with us and cross-sell the portfolio."

The new program moves away from what Bisnette called a "competency" model to a model focused on rewarding partners for performance. Outside of that, there aren't many details, requirements or caveats for partners to think about. "Our old program took about 37 slides to present," Bisnette said. "This program takes five."

Under the new program, partner performance is rewarded in four areas: New customer acquisition, selling across the portfolio, selling in an as-a-service model and capabilities. Partners have access to training, but Bisnette said Riverbed won't "dictate to them how many, where and when" training should be done.

Partners also have considerable latitude in deciding how to spend incentive dollars, whether on marketing development, as rebates or on training, Bisnette said.

The entire new system, Bisnette said, is aimed at spurring partners to sell more and sell it faster.

Bernard Westwood, vice president of technology operations at BlueAlly, a Washington, D.C., solution provider that works with Riverbed, said the changes come at the right time to take advantage of customers' changing technology needs and buying habits.

"Customers are asking for new technology, and for a subscription model," Westwood said. "We've been making the transition for the last couple of years into network monitoring, providing services, and trying to springboard off of that. We offer our own security services, and we expect to see a significant increase in those services because it's an interesting way for customers to get the value of the technology."

BlueAlly, Westwood said, wants to be an "early mover" in the Software-as-a-Service market with Riverbed. "We can help develop the process to sell these technologies, and if it's a focus of their sales team, that's better for partners." SD-WAN, Westwood said, is "an obvious place to start."

"We're trying to help cut through the clutter and help customers figure out what it means," Westwood said. "We're seeing customers trying to take the next step. It's kind of like the early days of cloud, and we're trying to cut through the marketing clutter. Riverbed is very important to our growth, and the new program will be of help. If a partner has got big volume in one area, they won't necessarily have to go across the whole thing if they don't want to."

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