Partners Predict New AppSense Channel Offensive Will Produce Big Sales Gains

Solution providers said AppSense's new channel program, backed up by a "channel-first, partner-led " sales charge from the company's direct sales team, is poised to drive explosive sales growth.

"The partner program and channel commitment keeps getting better and better," said Ira Silverman, founder and CEO of Gotham Technology Group, an AppSense Platinum partner based in Montvale, N.J. "We're following the rainbow to the pot of gold."

Silverman said he expects his company's sales of AppSense's virtualized desktop user personalization and management software to at least double this year, in large part as result of the new channel program, which was officially rolled out on July 1 -- the start of AppSense's new fiscal year.

[Related: Partners: VMware, Citrix Enterprise VDI Deals Don't Make Sense Without AppSense ]

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AppSense is powering the new program it is calling a "channel positive" compensation model for its direct sales force. The company officially rolls out the program to the direct sales team at a sales kickoff in London next week and at a U.S. sales kickoff the week of July 13 in Chicago.

"It's a sea change," said AppSense Channel Chief Jim Airdo of the new channel-positive compensation model for the company's direct sales team. "We were channel-neutral, which often translates to channel-negative. Now our 70 direct sales reps around the globe are being incented in our comp plan to work directly with the channel."

The direct sales compensation change is a sign that AppSense sees the channel as the key to driving sales growth, said Silverman. "It's a huge step," he said. "This is costing AppSense money. They are going to take less money up front because they believe the channel is the future."

Silverman credited AppSense CEO Scott Arnold and top channel leadership like Airdo for driving the channel transformation. He said his sales team is seeing Arnold's channel commitment makes its way into the sales trenches.

"Scott is channel-engaged and committed," said Silverman. "My sales reps trust their sales reps and want to engage with them more, and they want to engage with us more. That is unusual in this day and age."

Besides the channel-positive compensation model, AppSense is making $1 million in marketing funds available to its top 21 partners to drive sales growth.

"AppSense in the past spent a lot of marketing funds on branding and trade shows on our own," said AppSense Senior Vice President of Marketing Jed Ayres, who has put partners front and center in the marketing plan since joining the company just three months ago from national solution provider MCPc. "What we have found is that our story is a lot richer when it is delivered in the context of these channel partners working with their customers and sales prospects. We would have had to hire hundreds of sales reps to match the sales touches these partners will give us. What we are saying to partners is: 'We want to invest in your growth with an investment ahead of [partner] revenue.'"

The AppSense marketing offensive comes with the company doubling down on its 11 Platinum partners and creating a new partner tier -- Gold Plus -- with 10 select partners that have been hand-picked by AppSense to drive sales growth. Under the new channel program, Platinum partners receive an additional MDF point to four points, while Gold Plus partners receive two points.

Paul Kunze, vice president of sales and marketing for IntraSystems, an AppSense Gold Plus partner focused on secure access solutions based in Braintree, Mass., said he expects the channel offensive to help drive at least a 50 percent gain in his company's AppSense business this year.

"They have stepped up and showed the investment they are making in us as a channel partner and have won us over versus the other products in the market," he said. "We are engaged in the field with a plan of attack with training going on."

IntraSystems not only is selling the AppSense product to clients, but also is using the AppSense product as a critical component in its own recurring-revenue-based cloud service with hosted desktops and applications.

"AppSense is giving us the ability to manage user profiles," Kunze said. "Plugging AppSense into our new business strategy is going to elevate us over other offerings in the market. Our performance is going to be better, our density on the back end is going to be better, and our cost of infrastructure will be lower because we are using the AppSense toolkit."

Kunze said he has seen a dramatic increase in the channel charge from AppSense over the last year. "They have a management team that knows how to drive business through the channel," he said. "That's a big difference than what they had in the past."