APC Wants to Show Partners The Money

The West Kingston, R.I.-based company has developed a tiered certification program to allow partners to develop sales and engineering expertise in power, cooling, security and environmental management.

To help spread the word and educate partners on the changes it has made, APC is launching a 10-city tour that will incorporate educational sessions and product demos that kicks off next week in St. Louis.

"In designing the program , we spent a significant amount of time with our end customers -- from SMB to enterprise -- to find out what they expected in a partner. Then we went to partners to see what role they wanted to play in these systems," said Marc Sherman, vice president of global channel programs for APC, a subsidiary of Schneider Electric since early 2007.

"Technology plays a greater role in business than ever before. It's truly the differentiator for a lot of companies regardless of what vertical they're in. There's a greater reliance on that technology and on the availability of that technology and expectations of data availability are very high," said Sherman. "As we keep broadening our portfolio, what you have to do is ask how you can package that."

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This opens the door for partners, and to help them keep their customers up and running, APC's new program has four tiers that involve differing levels of training and partner commitment: Registered, Select, Premier and Elite. Partners are taught how to go-to-market with different products and strategies based on customers' IT environments, whether they be small offices or large data centers with vastly different IT cooling and power needs.

APC will help solution providers by evaluating their core businesses, areas of expertise and future ambitions to structure marketing and sales support programs to meet their needs. The company will also help partners choose which program is the best fit.

Training will be offered both live and online, and partners will have access to sales and marketing tools to help them problem-solve as well as direct support from APC.

There are also online communities where partners can collaborate to share best practices and network, and APC hopes to begin to increase its partner network with its new program in place.

"The program can't be vanilla and light if you want people to go out there and really interact with customers," Sherman said.