New Citrix Americas channel chief eyes building SMB channel

Mike Fouts

New Citrix Americas channel chief Mike Fouts.

Since coming on as Citrix Systems’ new channel chief for the Americas on October 1, Mike Fouts has been keeping busy.

The Citrix veteran, due to celebrate is 11-year anniversary with the software company next month, inherited a familiar but refreshed position. Some of the functional roles of his predecessor, Craig Stillwell, have been sent elsewhere to create more focus.

Fouts had previously been running a sales organization for the U.S. southeast at Citrix, so he said it was necessary to spend some time getting to know how things work in the areas now under his purview outside of the U.S. – Canada and Latin America.

Now that things are familiar, Fouts has a list of three main priorities he’s pursuing for Citrix and its partners as we head into 2012. Here’s the rundown.

Perhaps the biggest of Fouts’ three priorities is building up the company’s channel for the SMB market. Yes, Citrix has long sold into the SMB market, but with its purchase of VDI-in-a-box vendor Kaviza earlier this year, it’s ramping up its efforts in this area. Witness the launch of a SMB-focused partner certification last month. The program requires partners to complete sales training on the company’s SMB products (a $0 sales training effort that requires “60 minutes or less, including registration” according to Fouts) and a $350 sign-up fee.

“The VDI-in-a-box product is very simple and effective, and we wanted the program to match that,” he said.

Now it’s just a matter of getting partner on board. Fouts said his goal is to have 50 per cent of the existing Citrix partner community on the SMB products by the end of 2012, and plans to add another 25 to 30 per cent to the channel ranks in the form of SMB specialists over the next year.

“We’re after folks who are really focused on SMB,” he said, and a big opportunity exists in the number of SMB-focused Microsoft partners who to date aren’t working with Citrix.

Priority number two, unsurprising from a sales exec moving into a channel role, is to drive more collaboration between the sales team internally and partners’ own sales efforts. Part of that effort is increasing the amount of communications and interaction with partners – Fouts has a blog up and running for the company’s partners and reports that his team “is getting compensated on communications with channel partners.”

Citrix has also on-boarded more staff dedicated to being in the field engaging directly with company partners across the Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels, and has even moved to make the interactions more personal through what he refers to as an “adopt-a-partner” program.

“Each one of our sales reps adopts a partner with the goal to build a closer relationship, to help them sell product, to help them get their technical questions answered and to sell side-by-side with them,” he said.

The third priority, and one for any channel chief, is coming up with a plan for helping partners be more profitable. Part of that, Fouts said, is working on training and enablement through its Citrix Academy training program. The other part is developing “some new tools and incentives” that Fouts is remaining mum on, pending an early 2012 launch. “We’ll do some things to incent folks,” Fouts said. “The more you sell, the more you make.”