The days when partner program requirements were simply based on partner revenue and training are long gone. In the ever-evolving partner ecosystem, vendors must now look at multiple requirements and variations. So, what are the key program requirements for a partner levelling program today? And how do you, as a vendor, go about managing those different requirements and variations?
These questions were addressed in our recent webinar, ‘Partner Levelling – Winning Partner Mindshare through Differentiation’. During the webinar, Channel Mechanics VP and General Manager Americas, JD Helms, was joined by Rachel Tuller, Head of Global Channels & Alliances at Cloudera to discuss this very subject.
Managing and Tracking Competencies
In Cloudera’s case, it has a global program, with tracks within it. “Previously, we used to have separate programs. We had an MSP Program or a Service Provider Program, whereas now it’s all under one umbrella – but the tracks are different under each one. The tracks are unique to the go-to-market or the type of partner,” explained Tuller.
While there are some commonalities between partners such as revenue, for example, there are things that are unique to a service partner that are different to a technology partner. Cloudera wanted to ensure that those competencies were recognised within their program.
Partner competencies and capabilities are key points of differentiation in a partner program. The challenge lies in managing and tracking those competencies. This is often done by measuring partner training, certification and credentials, which could be either product or vertical-based.
Changing Partner Landscape
When determining your key program requirements, it is important to note the shifting partner landscape. An OEM today can resell, co-sell or refer business, meaning one partner type has multiple go-to-market routes.
“That’s something that we arm wrestled over and had quite a few discussions around,” said Tuller. “How do you define a partner type these days when a traditional partner has multiple go-to-markets? And how do you reward that?”
At the same time, as the channel migrates towards a SaaS model with MRR, other requirements need to be introduced, such as renewal or adoption rates. A vendor might want to give more points or more dollar value towards cloud products versus on-premise.
Many vendors will need to support the old world of on-premise. This may still be the lion’s share of revenues while transitioning, but it is critical to incentivize partners’ journeys to the new world.
The Future of Partner Levelling Programs
Looking to the future, Cloudera is considering how to drive consumption. “Expansion of a deal is one thing, renewal is another thing, but can you renew plus a given percentage?” questioned Tuller. “This is how we compensate our own internal people, so why wouldn’t we pay our partners to do that as well? These are the kinds of things that we’re looking at for the next generation of our levelling program” she explained.
Cloudera are a cloud-based platform. Their key to retention is consumption. Therefore, the company rewards and provides very high point levels for this.
At the end of the day, however, it must be easy for a partner to work with a vendor. Tuller’s advice: “Keep it simple – If a partner needs a spreadsheet to figure out how they make money with you, that’s the wrong levelling program.”
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