2017 Channel Chiefs: 15 Innovative Partner Program Updates
With enterprise customers looking to keep their environments up to snuff with the latest and greatest technologies, vendors need cutting-edge solution provider partners with the chops to keep pace.
As part of the 2017 Channel Chiefs project, CRN asked participants to shed some light on the most innovative initiatives their companies rolled out for their partners over the last 12 months.
Senior Director, Channel Marketing and Programs
A high priority focus for 2016 was to provide channel partners a content marketing offering that allows them to leverage a customized digital thought leadership program that presented the partner company's value proposition alongside the value that Fortinet brings to the market. We saw quick engagement and adoption of the program, and we are continually tweaking the offering so we can accommodate more partners and provide additional resources.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
VP, Worldwide Channel Strategy & Operations, Enterprise Group
One of the most notable was the initial roll out of competencies, which help partners develop a refined expertise around clusters of select HPE solutions rather than only specific products. This helps empower and reward partners working to accelerate their sales growth in key growth areas. It's particularly innovative because it's a response to what we're seeing in the marketplace and aligns directly to end customer and partner needs as they relate to HPE's four transformation areas.
Not only that, we've spent the time needed to launch the program and ensure that the resources, training and back-end management will enable our partners to fully embrace this new system right away. This extra attention to detail and how it enables partners to start driving sales growth is what sets it apart from other offerings in the marketplace.
Head of Global Channel
Our single most innovative initiative was the move from a volume based channel program to one based on value focused on solutions, rather than products. Four solution competencies were launched this year focusing on neutralizing threats, safeguarding critical data, securing the cloud and optimizing operations. Online course materials were created to enable our partner's sales staff to learn at their own pace. Star Trac events were also conducted to support partners who preferred hands on learning. Competency tests were also moved to a no-cost online model. Our priority was to [give] our channel partners with our latest solutions and at the same time keep costs to the absolute minimum.
To further expand on partner enablement, the Intel Security Solutions Center was launched to provide an on-demand demo-delivery platform based on the four solution competencies. This cloud-based platform efficiently provides our partners with demonstrations of the latest McAfee solutions to increase solutions knowledge. Feedback from partners has been extremely positive and we have seen increased interest in both our Platinum and Gold partner program levels."
SVP of Sales
We extended the onboarding service we provide to our traditional resellers to cloud solution providers. We value SaaS customers as highly as we do on-premise customers, and understand the importance of better equipping VARs to provide Laserfiche ECM solutions on the platform their existing customers and prospects prefer. So our program gives VARs the tools they need to add services to their offering, enabling them to build a profitable service business around whichever platform they end up providing.
LookingGlass Cyber Solutions
VP, Global Channels and Alliances
The single most innovative initiative in 2016 is our new Managed Security Service Provider Program. What made this innovative is the approach we took; instead of force-fitting existing service provider models and tweaking them, we started with a clean slate and let the creative juices flow. It required
LookingGlass to invent a program that addresses a varied and broad range of needs that MSSPs exhibit.
The program had to accommodate the small MSSP just launching, not well-funded, that required joint investment and a pay-as-you-grow model. It also had to address the very large and established MSSP, such as a telco, and their GTM strategy and installed base requirements. The program had to consider standard solutions, and the potential for newly developed services by the partners. It had to absorb varied financial models, different reporting requirements, the ability to white label or not and had to be flexible enough to work within the established processes each MSSP has.
We couldn't ask them to redesign their business model to fit ours. It was an enigma as it defies standardization, yet we achieved the objective with several innovative models and the desire to truly partner for mutual success.
VP of Worldwide Channels
We built a Cloud Service Provider program that treats the service provider as a partner, rather than a customer that consumes our technology. Together, we do demand gen, MDF funds, provide gear for their labs and much more. This sets us apart from our competitors, who are only focused on selling services and solutions to the partner - at Nimble, we aim to sell with the partner. This mentality is vital to building a prosperous relationship with channel partners today. We also launched a "virtual district manager" training program, teaching our sales team how to work with their partners as virtual sales teams. As a result, our sales teams will be able to close deals faster with less direct touch, relying on our skilled partners to drive most of the sales cycle.
Group Vice President, North America Alliance & Channels Sales
I am especially proud of the innovative segmentation process my team developed to identify which partners have the capabilities to position and sell the Oracle Database Appliance, Oracle's first channel-led product. We created and leveraged partner score cards that managed the outbound calls our ODA specialists were making on a daily and weekly basis, calculated how many meaningful product conversations were taking place, measured joint calls with specialists and partners, and measured whether opportunities were created in sales cloud. Taking this collaborative approach, Oracle has seen a 2x close rate on opportunities.
SVP of Channel Sales
Hands down the most impactful innovation we announced this year is the Partner Altitude Program. It is going to change the way we work with our partners, and will recognize partners who offer the strongest solutions and services to their clients. Oracle NetSuite has historically been very selective with recruiting new partners, but with Altitude we can assess based on a data driven repeatable formula.
Altitude measures channel practices across four specific criteria: commerce, how much a partner sells; competency, how many certifications the partners achieved; customers, success with retaining and servicing existing clients; and collaboration, how well the channel practice aligns with Oracle NetSuite.
Altitude will also be managed within Oracle NetSuite's industry leading cloud platform. We already used Oracle NetSuite partner relationship management to manage our solution provider program, and adding in Altitude was a no-brainer. Altitude provides partners with competitive differentiation in the marketplace and elevated partner recognition. Ultimately, it can help partners drive more business and grow their practices.
VP, North American Channels
I would contend that our implementation of a compensation-neutral channel/field sales model is quite rare in the industry. As a result, our field sales teams work in lock step with our partners to drive new revenue. For all intents and purposes, we have eliminated the traditional conflict found in some other vendor programs.
Director, Global Partner Marketing
My team played a large role in the development, launch, training and promotion of the Pure On The Go mobile app. This app is a first of its kind and provides partners with the capability to configure, price and quote our technology directly from the app. This specific function means partners can open and close deals faster than ever before. The app also allows partners to accept new sales leads and access the sales and marketing materials needed in the palm of their hand. With the launch of Pure On The Go, we took simplicity to a whole new level for partners. In recognition, we also recently won a CRN Enterprise App Award.
VP, Global Go to Market Strategy and Programs
We are taking an innovative approach to helping our channel earn revenue from cloud services with our new PartnerStart program. Our team was receiving feedback from partners that they wanted to differentiate themselves and that they wanted to become more involved in cloud services and installation. So we created this new program that enables the partner to remain the central point of contact with the customer through all phases. Our channel's adoption of PartnerStart has been strong and we're looking at ways to expand the program to give partners even more ability to control the full cloud experience for customers.
VP, Americas Channels
For SimpliVity, innovation should be simple, which can be seen as innovation alone. The channel team successfully started and launched the service provider program, which simplified the 100 percent channel go-to-market strategy, and is showing tremendous success. Now, the team has expanded to include a cloud service provider program and, specifically in the U.S., a new and true distribution model. This allows SimpliVity to meet Lenovo in the channel easily with Arrow, and meet Cisco in the channel easily with Avnet, where both distributors can integrate the solution for our customers.
Sungard Availability Services
SVP Global Channel Sales & Programs
Our most impactful innovation was focusing on teaching partners how to talk about bi-modal IT and business outcomes. This helped integrators and agents communicate a compelling message to their customers regarding how the partner can help deliver the business outcomes that the customer is looking for. This goes well beyond the standard story around "hybrid IT." The bi-modal approach starts from the customers' perspective of what it will take to implement a successful digital strategy. From there, we demonstrate how Sungard AS enables partners to deliver solutions for customers' mission critical legacy based applications, as well as new cloud-centric applications. We cover the spectrum from dedicated mainframe-as-a-service to multi-tenant off-premise cloud solutions. This messaging approach has helped integrators and agents enhance their relevance with their customers.
Director of Global Alliances
In 2016, we launched TransVault as a Service (TaaS) - this initiative is the combination of hosting our migration products in the Cloud, and, crucially for our partners, an offering of on-demand professional services. We discovered, particularly in North America, that our partners were becoming decreasingly competitive in pitching for migration projects because they had a bottom line they could charge for professional services, associated with their own staffing costs. By providing on-hand expertise from newly recruited TransVault Services personnel, we can now supplement their offerings.
We also launched a Technical Advisory Council, made up of our most influential partner contacts who we trust implicitly to influence the futures of our products and services. Their input has been instrumental in recent development work, informing us clearly of what is required in the market.
Director, Channel Programs
Developed and implemented a formalized onboarding program that escorts new partners through the initial 90 days of ramping up their WatchGuard business. This ensures that partners are engaged from the beginning, are provided targeted training, go-to-market resources and reach their first WatchGuard sales sooner than ever.
Our initial orientation includes detailed overviews of our partnership benefits, including security pays incentive programs and deal registration, as well as team-orchestrated check-ins along the way to ensure that partners have the details that they need and are never lost as they ramp up with WatchGuard.