10 Things To Know About Tanium's First-Ever Partner Program: Exclusive

Tanium Partner Advantage won’t have any tiers, program fees, or rigid training requirements. Solution providers will instead be rewarded for fulfilling the terms of a custom business plan created jointly with Tanium.

Leading The Channel Charge

The brand-new Tanium Partner Advantage program was announced this week at Tanium Converge 2019 in Nashville, Tenn. and is expected to launch on Feb. 1, 2020. It will be the first formal partner program in the 13-year history of the Emeryville, Calif.-based endpoint visibility and control vendor.

Tanium expects its partner program differs from many others in the industry due to the lack of program fees, rigid training requirements, or tiers with specific requirements and benefits, said Partner Programs Director Cindi Johnson. Instead, she said solution providers will be assessed on total partner value, which factors in financial performance, building expertise, investment in growth, and customer success.

“Being able to come in at this stage of the game and build a program essentially from the ground up is a rare opportunity,” Johnson told CRN exclusively. “We're really excited about that, and our partners are excited too.”

Here’s what Johnson and Tom Herrmann, global vice president of alliances and channels, had to say about Tanium’s new partner training and enablement capabilities, the upcoming launch of a persona-based partner interface and portal, and the perks solution providers that fulfill the terms of their business plan can expect to receive.

10. Tanium’s Engagement With Channel Partners Was Historically Limited

Despite raising nearly $800 million in outside funding and notching a valuation of $6.5 billion in 2018, Tanium’s partner strategy hasn’t extended much beyond order processing and operational support, Herrmann said. The company delivered sales and technical enablement to partners on an ad-hoc basis and had neither a partner portal nor a formal program with defined expectations and benefits, he said.

Tanium’s philosophy toward partners has changed dramatically in 2019 with the hire of Hermann and Johnson from VMware as well as landing former NetApp channel chief Thomas Stanley to be Tanium’s chief revenue officer. Building a new partner program from scratch at a mature organization like Tanium means that there’s no risk of legacy systems, structures or processes getting in the way, Herrmann said.

“It's very clear that Tanium is not just recommitting to the partners and to the channel, but actually recognizing the value of us going to market together and co-investing and co-committing,” Johnson said.

9. Tanium’s Expectations, Perks For Partners Are Being Made Much Clearer

Tanium had skipped a number of steps that usually occur when vendors begin selling through the channel, Herrmann said meaning that solution providers typically knew neither what was expected of them nor what they could expect from Tanium. The vendor historically had a loose margin structure that failed to provide partners with clear criteria around how much they could expect to earn on each deal.

The lack of clear benefits or defined partnership criteria for Tanium was amazing given the company’s high rate of growth and maturity in the market, Herrmann said.

Going forward, Herrmann said it will be far clearer what solution provider sales metrics are being tracked as well as what rewards or incentives partners can expect to earn. A predictable discount structure will make working with Tanium much easier for partners, Herrmann said.

8. Tanium’s Partner Ecosystem Will Be Limited To A Few Hundred Globally

Tanium is not looking to build out a mass channel and would instead prefer to serve customers through a more defined and focused ecosystem of a few hundred partners globally, many of which would be based in the United States, Herrmann said. The company is right now most focused on growing its existing relationships by jointly adding more capacity, capabilities, and service offerings, Herrmann said.

New partnerships will be largely focused on expanding Tanium’s footprint in emerging markets as well as potentially adding more boutique regional partners in mature markets like North America, Herrmann said. He anticipates global and national partners will continue to play an outsized role in Tanium’s partner community.

Tanium’s new partner push will not silo solution providers into separate programs based on their primary route to market such as MSP, reseller, or systems integrator, Johnson said. Partners today typically have multiple routes to market, Johnson said, so Tanium will instead focus on how the solution providers support their customers throughout their procurement journey.

7. Partner Benefits Will Focus On Joint Activities With Tanium

Many of the benefits for Tanium partners will be oriented around co-investment and include perks such as joint sales engagements, joint marketing initiatives, training credits, and forecasting, Herrmann said. Tanium’s investments will be aligned with the partner’s particular coverage model, according to Herrmann.

Benefits for Tanium partner will span the entire program lifecycle from the initial engagement to onboarding to enablement to demand generation and ongoing sales, Johnson said. The incentives will be predictable and compelling and go beyond anything Tanium has offered to partners up until this point, according to Johnson.

The provided perks are designed to not only make partners successful, Herrmann said, but also to make it more desirable for solution providers to work with Tanium. Becoming a partner of choice for the channel community should be advantageous to the company in the long-run, Herrmann said.

6. New Partner Interface Will Streamline Communication, Access To Materials

Tanium will launch in early 2020 a formal, persona-based interface for partners that will provide them with portal access to sales and marketing kits and co-branded collateral as well as easier ways to engage with the company, Herrmann said. Prior to the portal, he said the communication process between Tanium and its partners was far more manual and would typically involve emails and phone calls.

The company plans to use a PRM system as a wraparound to Salesforce, providing Tanium with a slick interface that tracks everything from deal registration to analytics on the partnership. As a result, Herrmann said field reps will be able to see everything from what the solution provider’s pipeline looks like to how many personnel the channel partner has trained and enabled.

The new interface means that a lot of things that are manual for partners today will be able to be carried out in a self-service fashion going forward such as branding marketing materials, Herrmann said. At the same time, Herrmann said Tanium personnel will still be available to provide back-end support to the channel.

5. Partners Will Have Both Short-Term, Long-Term Goals In Business Plan

Tanium will closely monitor the progress partners are making toward the goals stipulated in their joint business plan with the vendor so that course corrections can take place early on, according to Herrmann. The company expects it’ll be able to work with partners to remediate issues that are preventing them from hitting their goals rather than having to de-invest in the relationship altogether.

Tanium and the partner will jointly work together to determine what a successful relationship looks like both in the shorter-term as well as the long-term, Johnson said. The goals in the business plan will cover different time horizons since it typically takes well beyond a few weeks or even a month for customers to close a deal with Tanium, according to Johnson.

Initial goals might focus on getting the right solution provider personnel trained up to support the Tanium product, Herrmann said, while longer-term goals might examine the partner’s ability to build joint pipeline or launch ancillary services. Those steppingstones should help Tanium determine the ultimate revenue goal for each solution provider, according to Herrmann.

4. Partners Will Be Trained And Certified The Same As Tanium’s Own Staff

Tanium in the past hadn’t done a good job of training partners to the same extent that it’s trained the company’s own personnel, Herrmann said, but that’ll change in the new program as the company starts pushing its own internal training materials out to solution providers. In addition, Tanium plans to begin certifying its partners in spring 2020 the exact same way it certifies its own staff today, Herrmann said.

Partner enablement was historically almost entirely reactive for Tanium, Herrmann said, with the company training up partner practitioners in response to the solution provider having a major deployment coming up. Tanium didn’t have any consistent structure or strategy around how to get partners trained, Johnson said.

Tanium has made good progress over the past six months getting its salespeople up to speed from a training perspective, Johnson said. And as Tanium rolls out new modules, Herrmann said the new technologies will come with more training requirements, and the company will ensure partners are receiving the same level of enablement as the company’s own personnel.

3. Partners Won’t Be Required To Have A Specific Number Of People Trained

Tanium plans to eschew the common partner program requirement that solution providers have a specific number of sales and technical staff certified in order to qualify for a certain set of requirements, Herrmann said. Instead, the company will mandate that anyone in the solution provider organization that’s selling, touching or supporting Tanium receive appropriate training for their role, Herrmann said.

The partner sales training will include features typically found in internal sales training programs such as how to properly position the product, the benefit of the product in certain situations, and how to overcome common objectives, Herrmann said. The certification will be a combination of self-paced and instructor-led training, and include exams from third-parties in order to get certified, Johnson said.

In addition to the modules and technology, Johnson said the trainings will also address how to have higher-level conversations about Tanium with non-technical executives such as vice president and C-level personnel. Much of that involves focusing on business problems experienced and business outcomes desired rather than niche features on the various modules, according to Johnson.

2. Tanium’s New Partner Program Won’t Have Any Tiers

Tanium has opted to create a tier-less partner program due to frustration in the channel community around rigid quotas that keep solution providers from moving up to the next tier, Herrmann said. Thanks to the smaller, more defined partner ecosystem, Tanium has the luxury of sitting down with each partner individually and defining what success looks like and structuring the benefits criteria off that.

Since Tanium’s partner program has no hard-coded tiering, Herrmann said solution providers that hit their goals will be rewarded with more vendor reinvestment in the relationship. Even though the priorities in each partner relationship will be different, Johnson said all solution providers will have requirements around training, demand generation, pipeline growth, and joint vendor engagements.

Priorities for partners will vary based on their geography, vertical focus, and go-to-market motion, Herrmann and Johnson said. The expectations could also differ based on if the solution provider has more expertise around security or IT operations, according to Herrmann.

1. Partners Will Have Their Value Assessed In Four Different Areas

Solution providers will be measured and held accountable through total partner value, which takes into account financial performance, building expertise, investment in growth, and customer success, Johnson said. When the goals in the joint business plan are achieved, Johnson said benefits for partners will be unlocked.

In addition to top-line revenue, Johnson said the financial performance criteria will take into account cross-sell and upsell motion, consumption and managed services activity, newly-formed versus harvested opportunities, and the extent to which new opportunities are partner-led. Building expertise, meanwhile, is all about training and certification, according to Johnson.

The investment in growth piece will take into account factors such as pipeline development and quarterly business review with Tanium, Johnson said. And the customer success criteria will examine net new customer logos signed, visibility and engagement in the marketplace, and the frequency of case studies, according to Johnson.