Citrix reshapes partner program along specialization lines

The new Citrix Solution Advisor program is a fundamental restructuring of Citrix’s partnering approach, which introduces Specialist Tracks to recognize and reward areas of focus.

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Tammy Richards, Citrix’s Managing Director, Worldwide Channels

Citrix has unveiled the Citrix Solution Advisor (CSA) program, a fundamental reworking of its partner program, which is part of a drive to expand their partner bookings by 15 per cent year over year, over each of the next three years.

“For 2015, we took a hard look at the channel programs we offer in order to focus on faster revenue growth, particularly as we hadn’t changed our programs a lot over the years,” said Tammy Richards, Citrix’s Managing Director, Worldwide Channels. “The result, which we call our Partner Growth Plan, is a three year plan focused on 15% year-over-year growth.”

The new CSA program is a key element of that plan, but it has three other components, which have already begun to kick in, and which will be fully rolled out over the next twelve months.

First is energized field collaboration, with stricter guidelines. Second is improved partner enablement.

“We have done a lot of work in the last six months focusing on partner enablement,” Richards said. “Our goal is to help enable partners not just with technical skills, but with market and demand generation skills as well, with tools to help partners there.”

The third component is improved marketing demand generation.

“We have enhanced platforms we have had for some time, such as web, email campaigns, and social media, to make it easier to leverage partner tools so they can do their own marketing,” Richards last.

Last, and certainly not least, the new CSA is a fundamental restructuring of Citrix’s partnering approach, which introduces Specialist Tracks to recognize and reward areas of focus. Richards said that they are also adjusting revenue requirements by partner tier level.

“The new CSA program is designed to help partners differentiate with customers and reward them for their time, to make it easier for customers to identify the right partner for their solution, and to let partners get incremental rewards,” she said.

There are four Specialist Tracks in the new program. Virtualization includes XenApp, XenDesktop, and Workspace Suite. Networking Data Center includes NetScaler and CloudBridge. Mobility Management includes XenMobile and ShareFile. These three are considered Core Tracks. The fourth Track, Networking Apps and Mobile Security, which also covers NetScaler and Cloudbridge, is considered elective.

All the Specialist Tracks can be pursued at any level in the program.

“It’s a track within ANY level of program – Platinum Gold or Partner,” Richards said. “Up to this point we just had the Platinum Gold and Partner levels with base rewards.”

The specializations now define tier membership in the partner program. Platinum requires two specializations plus an annual revenue goal. Gold requires either one specialization or a minimum revenue requirement, which Richards acknowledged was fairly high. The Partner tier simply requires registration in the program, with specializations being optional.

“If a member in the Partner tier earns a specialization, there will be higher incentives,” Richards said.

The changes take effect immediately for the Partner tier. The Gold and Platinum tiers have until December 2016 to meet the new requirements – almost two years.

“We wanted to give Gold and Platinum members a long time before we demoted any partners,” Richards said. “Most of our Platinum partners are well on the way to a specialization.”

Getting a specialization requires having a number of staff holding the latest Citrix technical certification – Citrix Associate. Citrix Professional and Citrix Expert. The partner also needs to obtain a Certificate of completion in Citrix Services Best Practices in four areas: Leveraging Citrix Sales Tools and Demos; Citrix Consulting Methodologies; Thinking like a Citrix Support Engineer; and Citrix Certified Sales Specialist.

Another required element, which has been practised by some other vendors, but which is entirely new for Citrix, is proof of customer satisfaction for a deployment.

“The partner fills in a survey about implementation which generates an email to the customer to validate partner information,” Richards said. “Three customer validations are required. You don’t have to do this to be a partner, but you do have to do it to earn a specialization and get their rewards.”

Another new concept for Citrix is the Completed Specialist Practicum, which Richards said would likely be the most time-consuming component for partners. Each practicum tests skills around the solution in three separate areas: Design, Deployment, and Management. Certified individuals will be able to demonstrate design and implementation competency in alignment with Citrix leading practices.

The rewards for specialization fall into several buckets. Differentiation with customers is provided both by the specialization itself, and by better position on Citrix’s partner locator.

“Leads are funneled to the best partners, and while before just being in the Platinum tier put a partner at the top for leads, the highest level partners will now be specialized Platinums, over regular Platinums,” Richards said. A Platinum partner would be higher than a Gold partner with a specialization, however.

Specialization also beings access to additional Citrix content, tools and resources.

“There is a lot around services practices and best practices,” Richards said. These include Practice Development, CCS Best Practice, and service templates.

Finally, and likely most importantly, specialization means more money in terms of back end rewards and up front bonuses.

“A certified partner today can earn 22 per cent,” Richards said, with 12 per cent being Advisor Rewards and 10 per cent Opportunity Registration. “However a specialized partner can earn up to 33 per cent, 50 per cent more.”