by – Joseph Tsidulko on January 13, 2015 – published on CRN.com
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Citrix Systems revealed to its partners on Tuesday some major changes to its channel program focused around the introduction of new specialties and a restructuring of its U.S. sales organization.
The changes are intended to make the Citrix Solution Advisor program more standardized across geographic regions, more profitable and more demanding, which is just what partners said they wanted, according to Tom Flink, vice president for channels and market development.
“They said make it meaningful and don’t make it easy,” Flink told North American channel partners at a breakout session at Citrix Summit in Las Vegas. Partners willing to invest in their relationship with Citrix want to differentiate themselves so they can present themselves to customers as specialists, with credentials to back that up, Flink explained.
Citrix also earned praise by saying it would release back to its channel about half of its 1,000 “high-touch” accounts — large deals that the company handles directly. The high-touch program launched a few years back, and has always been unpopular with partners.
The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based software vendor introduced three core specialties at Summit: Virtualization, Networking Data Center and Mobility Management, as well as an elective specialty of Networking Apps and Mobile Security.
Flink noted that Citrix had been a holdout in adopting specialization tracks of the kind becoming common throughout the industry.
“We’re probably last to introduce specializations, but didn’t think it was something that would add value to our relationships until now,” Flink told partners.
The new program mandates Platinum partners qualify for two specializations while also meeting an annual revenue goal. Partners can achieve Gold-tier status by earning one specialization in lieu of meeting an annual revenue goal. The Silver tier carries no specialization requirement, but Citrix encourages those partners to earn one, nonetheless.
While Citrix is eager to have partners start earning specializations, the company isn’t rushing them.
The new program launches this quarter, but current Gold and Platinum partners will have until the end of 2016 to make the transition by earning specializations. Silver-tier and new partners will immediately be migrated to the new program.
Rafael Garzon, Citrix’s channel chief for the Americas, explained to partners how the sales organization has been restructured. Previously, Citrix had four vice presidents in charge of specific regions of the U.S. Those positions have been replaced with three vice presidents, one who will be in charge of all the geographic regions, another who oversees enterprise accounts, and another networking accounts.
Garzon told CRN that the new approach aligns better with the concept of “sales motion” and creates a more uniform experience for partners, regardless of their geographic territory.
Craig Stilwell, the vice president who will now take charge of commercial accounts in all U.S. geographic regions, told partners that bringing the company’s field sales managers under a single organizational structure will change their relationship with those managers.
They will both be more engaged, and, at least in some cases, cede more control to the partners — on large deals, field service managers will typically join their partners in presenting proposals to customers. At the same time, they will be “letting go” and allowing partners to manage deals in a fashion they see fit, Stilwell told attendees.
As far as specific goals and metrics of the new program, Stilwell said, “I estimate we’re going to have to tweak it several times before we get it right.”
Flink said that with the revamped program the company has “rolled out a new Citrix sales conversation.” That includes a “Citrix mobile-ready scorecard,” an app that partners need to learn to use to track their success.
Citrix also has introduced a new compensation structure to reward partners for earning specializations, making deals in their areas of expertise more profitable.
Specialists will qualify for a front-end reward of 5 percent, plus a 50 percent bonus on all products sold in its category of specialization on the back end.
“We want this to be meaningful in how this helps you and your business,” Flink told partners.
To become specialists, partners will have to maintain the latest certifications for every product in that category, be certified in best practices and have three customer validations listed for every area of specialization. They must also complete a “practicum,” a type of exam that puts them in a lab where they will have to solve some problem and present their solution for evaluation.
Garzon told partners the company had a great fourth quarter and it wants to take that momentum into 2015.
“We hear what you’re saying, what you need from us. Your voice is very important to us,” Garzon said.
Andy Malivuk, vice president of Vology, a Citrix Platinum partner based in Oldsmar, Fla., told CRN he is thrilled to see the partner program changes.
“Vology is determined to be the No. 1 virtualization provider in the nation and, as such, we are tripling down on our investments in this technology. The changes in the program align well with our direction and will enable us to continue 100 percent-plus year-over-year growth while increasing profitability at the same time,” Malivuk told CRN.