Partners Cheer Google's New Solutions-Oriented Channel Approach

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The day before Google's Cloud Next 2017 Conference, new channel chief Bertrand Yansouni and other Google execs hosted partners at an off-site summit in San Francisco. During those sessions earlier this week, they outlined a new approach to how Google will work with its channel, one encompassing investments in product, sales and enablement programs and encouraging a mindset geared to comprehensive solutions, not individual products.

The new "unified approach" breaks down channel silos by rewarding partners for selling the whole Google Cloud stack, a change that was overdue, Yansouni told CRN. Previously "partners and sales agents were aligned by products, not accounts and solutions," he said.

Partners are elated with the new philosophy, telling CRN it aligns with how enterprise customers actually look to purchase technology. Google's program changes illustrate that, after some stumbles, the consumer-tech powerhouse is starting to understand the critical enterprise market.

[Related: Google Leverages Its Consumer Tech To Bulk Up Enterprise Cloud Services]

"There's a really positive change that's afoot," Aric Bandy, president of Agosto, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based Premier partner, told CRN.

Google has tweaked a compensation model that could, in some scenarios, fail to provide financial parity to sales reps when delivering deals to the channel. Field agents no longer can be better compensated for taking customers direct, Yansouni told CRN, which eliminates any potential for channel conflict.

To further encourage the solutions-focused approach, Google introduced four new specialization credentials that partners can earn to validate specific skills. It also launched a revamped partner directory that makes it easier for partners to promote their expertise, as well as a new engineering team that advises partners on large engagements.

The "unified approach" assigns Google's sales reps to accounts instead of products. And the cloud operator will tabulate all revenue across the portfolio when assessing whether a partner rises to Premier status, Yansouni said.

Rajesh Abhyankar, CEO of Princeton, N.J.-based Google Premier partner MediaAgility, told CRN that change in tier qualification should be warmly welcomed by partners.

"When we heard they'd be deciding Premier tier on combined partner revenue on all products, our initial reaction was it's fantastic," he said.  "For us Google saying there's only one Premier tier, sell any of these products and meet the quota, means an easier path to achieve that status."

MediaAgility has always approached engagements with a broad solutions mindset, looking to drive profitability by solving business process challenges. Now Google's channel structure is aligned with that approach, he said.

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