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AMD’s Terry Richardson: New Program Rewards Partners Who ‘Aggressively’ Sell AMD

‘If they choose to really understand and take the time to not only understand the AMD differentiation but start to aggressively position it, then there’s a reward,’ says AMD North America Channel Chief Terry Ricardson in an exclusive interview about the chipmaker’s new partner program.

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There are companies who have technically been part of an AMD partner program in the past, mostly the system builders. How would you distinguish what this partner program is versus any other partner programs that AMD has had in the past?

So this one is meant to be inclusive of today client and server, where I think, historically, we may have had a [system integrator] program for client or server parts — they were kind of different. So this is meant to be one that that fits both [server and client] from a commercial system standpoint. We tried to go into a lot of depth of being able to explain externally what is involved and what’s encompassed within the program. I think that was really important, where I think some of the other programs it was more like if you’re in the program, you knew, but if you’re outside, maybe it wasn’t quite as well documented. That’s one of the reasons that we wanted to have this call [with CRN] to start to get the word out. And we tried to put together the concept of, it’s certainly traditional, but not every partner is of the same size and scope, and so we introduced tiering. I don’t know [about] all of AMD’s other programs, but I think there may be some newness to the fact that it’s tiered, invitation only, and there’s certainly components beyond financial rebates, not the least of which is a requirement now for some technical and sales certification and training.

This is kind of an existential question for what you do: Why does there need to be a program like this in the greater partner ecosystem? And this is a question I ask on behalf of OEM resellers who maybe haven’t really had much involvement with semiconductor companies recently.

It’s really interesting. When I sit down and talk to partners – and I certainly have built many relationships over my couple of decades in the channel – their first or second question is, tell me about your program. I think they’re just conditioned that if they contribute effort and there’s any kind of requirements for training or time away from customers, [there’s a question of] “what’s in it for me?” So I think there’s a there’s a sense there. But what I think is really important is, many partners want to be recognized as a trusted advisor. And I think to really be effective as a trusted adviser, you have to have an informed opinion about certain things. And the only way to get an informed opinion is to really take some time to dig in.

So what I’m finding is two things. The technical community within the partners is really, really critical to understanding how technology — even technology in a semiconductor — can deliver real differentiated customer value. And that just takes time and experience to learn and go build. So that was one. The second is, I think many partners don’t know how to think about a semiconductor or a sub-component when they’re in the systems and solutions business. And if you let the customer decide, then I don’t think you’re really doing your job as a trusted advisor. I think if you bring an informed point of view, bring a recommendation that is fully formed, then I think you’re just serving your customers better and you’re probably strengthening your relationship. So having a partner program gives them the forum to gain access to our training, our resources (field sales, technical [professionals] and other key technologists and stakeholders inside the company) to build their understanding and awareness. In every way, it’s a competitive market. I think oftentimes partners are looking for a way to differentiate themselves and differentiate their approaches to serving and meeting customer needs.

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