Citrix's New Partner Program Opens Up Opportunities
This year's Citrix Summit conference, which took place this week in Anaheim, Calif., was an opportunity for the company to spotlight its recently revamped solution advisor partner program.
The new program took effect on May 1, roughly a month after Citrix first alerted partners of the coming changes. Though the new program is still in its early days, partner feedback so far has been "very positive," according to Mike Fouts, senior director of Americas Channels and Field Operations for Citrix.
Citrix incorporated feedback and suggestions from partners while planning the program changes, which helped to ease the transition, Fouts said in an interview.
"We spent nine or 10 months designing [the new program]," he said. "And that was one of the questions we all asked each other: 'What do you think the partners are going to think?' We did, during that process, engage [partners] very heavily to help design the program and tell us what they liked from other vendors, what they didn't like, what they felt worked well, what they thought didn't work so well. We even engaged distribution partners to help us with that because they see all the vendors out there and all their programs.
"So I think that's helped us significantly because the partners helped shape it, and it's not something we just decided to make up. We used a lot of their feedback and input to design it."
One common criticism was that Citrix partners did not feel the company was competitive enough in the networking space, and that they could make more money selling other vendors' networking products.
"They were right," Fouts said. "We had to figure out a way to be more competitive in the networking space."
The new Citrix Solution Advisor program has an Opportunity Registration feature for cloud networking solutions. Partners can qualify for discounts once their opportunity has been registered and validated.
"That allows the partner to register the opportunity and get upfront margin," Fouts said.
The program also now rewards partners differently according to their level of partnership with Citrix. Prior to the May 1 switch, Fouts described the partner incentive system as being "very flat."
"Everybody made the same amount. It didn't matter how much you invested -- they all made the same," he said.
In fact, it was the most common complaint Citrix heard from partners as it was designing the new program.
"The biggest suggestion was, 'The more I invest in Citrix, the more reward I should get. And if I'm willing to make the investment to be one of your top partners, then I should make more money with you guys,'" Fouts said.
It's a fair criticism, he conceded. Prior to the program changes, Citrix's partner incentive structure "wasn't rewarding the right behavior," he said. Now, partners have different rewards and incentives depending on their partnership level -- Platinum (highest), Gold or Silver.
"We made it tiered such that the more you do with Citrix, the more you make," Fouts said.
Citrix also made the requirements for each partner level more transparent.
"Prior to May 1, we didn't do a very good job of outlining what it takes to be a Silver or a Gold or a Platinum. So we put into place an entirely new framework," Fouts said. "So now if I'm a Gold, I can very clearly see, 'OK, if I do these things, if I achieve this amount of revenue, I will automatically become a Platinum.'"
The new requirements are largely based on revenue. For U.S. partners to achieve a Platinum level, they must have $3.5 million in annual product revenue. A Gold level requires $750,000 in annual product revenue. There is no annual product revenue requirement for Silver, which is intended to make it easier for companies to partner with Citrix.
"We want to make it easy to do business with us," Fouts explained. "If you want to sell our product, it should be easy. We want people to sell our stuff."
Partners must also meet certain certification requirements for each tier. Platinum partners must have eight sales certifications and eight technical certifications. Gold partners must have six of both certification types. There is no certification requirement for Silver.
Besides the operational issues of revamping an existing partner program -- creating a new system for partners to register opportunities and developing new training materials, for instance -- the pain points of transitioning partners have been fairly minimal so far, according to Fouts. Partners have until Jan. 31, 2014 to meet the new requirements and solidify their partnership level.