CRN Exclusive: F5 Launches Partner Renewal Incumbency Program

F5 Networks channel partners in North America stand to gain a huge boost as the Seattle-based networking company is set to launch its first Renewal Incumbency Program, effective Aug. 1.

The program provides "significant" pricing advantages to the incumbent partner when the partner is transacting a support renewal, according to Keith McManigal, vice president, Americas Channel Sales at F5.

"It's the salespeople who invest in F5, and take the time to learn our products and understand where they can benefit customers, so those are the people we want to reward," said McManigal in an interview with CRN. "Renewals [are] a big part of the business, so we want to make it so sales reps can close a deal, make good margins and when the renewal comes up, that salesperson who did the sale is going to be able to make more margin on that."

[Related: Partners: New F5 CEO Manuel Rivelo To 'Breathe New Life' Into Company]

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The program will be available in the U.S. and Canada for silver, gold and platinum partners enrolled in F5's Unity Partner Program. It is very similar to the company's highly touted Deal Registration Program, according to McManigal.

Mark Greer, president of Milestone Systems, a Minneapolis-based solution provider and F5 platinum partner, said the new program creates stickiness with the client community as well as with F5.

"This will allow us to protect the investments we made with our clients, enable us to sustain and have a more consistent level of service delivery to those clients," said Greer. "On the back end of all of this, it will create much more significant upsell capabilities or opportunities for Milestone. … With the incumbency program, our discounts will be 18 points."

Partners in the program will be able to create a deeper relationship with customers, Greer said, which is critical in today's competitive marketplace.

"The total lifecycle of this whole thing creates tremendous upsell capabilities if you follow the transaction, versus the client bouncing from one channel partner to another from year to year," said Greer. "The stickiness we will create with that client on an ongoing basis is far greater than if the client just bounces from one channel partner to another."

The program is completely data-driven as a way for the company to be transparent and impartial.

"We didn't want to roll out a subjective program like what we've seen in the industry from others," said McManigal. "We've put together a program that we believe is one of the first in the industry to be completely data-driven. … It's about growth, partner profitability and creating a really strong relationship with partners and customers."

Earlier this year, F5 also revealed a new Guardian Fast Start program that trains partners on F5 products and solutions, technical certification, professional shadowing and delivery.

More than 98 percent of F5 runs through the channel, as the company is seeking to expand its channel.

"We are focused on getting the right partners in our program," said McManigal. "We're not in a huge 'sign up all the partners' mode -- we're being very surgical about who we're signing up."