One day there might well be a degree course on designing the perfect partner programme to ensure that channel partners are rewarded and encouraged to drive growth with a specific vendor.
In the absence of a definitive way to interact with partners there is plenty of room for each vendor to bring their own approach to working with the channel.
The latest to roll out changes is Intel Security which has just announced the second wave of improvements to its partner programme. The overarching ambition is to improve the opportunities for both distributors and resellers to improve profitability.
Last October the firm, which was still going under the McAfee brand at that point, rolled out a range of improvements to the partner programme that saw simplified solution competencies, a removal of baseline certifications and more focus on providing more structured support to managed service providers.
The main features of the latest changes include the scrapping of tiered pricing, improved deal registration and more support and incentives for those resellers that have made a commitment to the vendor.
The decision to introduce platinum, gold and silver as the names for the different levels of the channel will not raise any eyebrows and neither will the idea that rising up that scale will deliver more discounts for resellers.
What will be of interest is the removal of tiered pricing, which is justified as a way of providing Intel Security with the option to reallocate funds to more profitable offerings with better margins.
On deal registration the change is to limit it to one partner per each approved reseller-found sales opportunity, which is meant to simplify the process. There will be other vendors looking at how that works to potentially mimic the approach if it makes life easier for the channel.
“Our goal is to be the number-one security partner for our customers, and to reach this goal we need to provide flexible and profitable programs that will sustain as customer needs and partner business models evolve,” said Lisa Matherly, head of worldwide partner programmes, marketing and operations, Intel Security.
“Together, we have the opportunity to redefine the industry and provide better security outcomes for our mutual customers,” she added.
A three pronged approach
By January next year Intel Security will have rolled out three waves to its partner programme
Wave one - October 2014 saw it remove the need for baseline accreditations and more support for MSPs and those selling security via the cloud
Wave two - July 2015 includes the scrapping of tiered pricing to give the vendor the chance to put money into profitable areas as well as improvements to deal registration
Wave three - January 2016 is expected to see the final piece of the jigsaw added with the focus on reducing costs of working with Intel Security and the carrot of greater margins for the channel
The reseller that Intel Security put up to comment on the changes welcomed the increased flexibility that was being put into the programme.
“As solutions providers, we look for a flexible program that aligns with our needs and allows us to deliver robust technology solutions to help protect our customers. Through our relationship with Intel Security, we can outfit customers with excellent protection to help offensively secure their company data and grow our business as a result,” said Deb Gannaway, president, DG Technologies.
There is a fine line between over tinkering with partner programmes to make them work better and doing it too much at the irritation of the channel.
Having now launched two waves of changes that combined have meant that life should be simpler those working with Intel Security could be forgiven for looking for some time to get used to the programmes and some breathing space before any more tinkering takes place.
However there is a third phase of changes in the pipeline as part of an 18 month programme of improvements to the way that Intel Security works with partners that will come early next year.
The third wave of enhancements coming in January 2016 are designed to reduce the cost of doing business with the vendor and improving the margins that it’s distributors and resellers can gain access to.