The key set of changes to the program sees discounts based on partner tier flattened, and the resources moved to an enhanced deal registration program, to give more rewards to partners who do more work.
Intel Security has announced the second of three planned stages of changes to its Intel Security Partner Program. The new changes involve program elements which required more time to put in place. The company also announced it had rolled out significant new sales and partner rules of engagement.
“Conversations with customers have changed massively in the last couple of years,” said Fernando Quintero, Vice-President of Channel Sales, Americas, Intel Security. “The industry has been very bad at just selling them things. Some large enterprises have 40 or 50 or more security platforms. They don’t want to buy another widget or gadget. They don’t want to add more standalone products. They want to consolidate the mess, they want lower operating costs and they want to be protected.”
Quintero said that today, channel programs have to enable partners to cross that chasm and satisfy customer demands that the vendor and solution provider own more risk, which means changing how they engage with customers.
Intel Security’s ultimate goal with partners is to get as many as possible to move up a structure that consists of four levels.
“The most basic level is just selling products,” Quintero said. “Some partners just sell products and they make money, but most customers want more. The second level is selling solutions, a combination of products and services. It’s fairly low margin now, but we have many partners in that level. The third level is integrated solutions, and our role is helping them integrate those by leveraging our vendor offerings. The fourth level is where they can automate the mess and lower the costs.”
The first phase of the plan to move partners along this path was announced last October at the company’s SecurityAlliance Partner Summit.
“Phase one was addressing some of the hottest issues based on feedback,” Quintero said. It simplified things by reducing the number of competencies from five to three – endpoint security, network security, and security management. It also simplified enablement with things like a new certification program designed to reduce the number of hours partners had to spend on training each year.
“This second phase is more about things which required longer term operational, global and back office changes,” Quintero added. “There were upgrades and systems we had to deal with, and we had to get manufacturers to make changes and automate things.”
One critically important set of changes isn’t technically to the program at all, but to the rules of engagement which surround it. New rules of engagement for both the vendor and the partner have been introduced.
“I think this is probably the most important component, because you can have a great program, but if what happens in the field doesn’t work, the program is worth nothing,” Quintero said. Changes on the internal side include engaging with the partner early in the sales cycle, ensuring deal registration is part of every new business deal, ensuring all opportunities are taken indirect, demonstrating a loyalty to the incumbent, and respecting confidentiality.
“We expect everyone internally to abide by these rules,” Quintero said.
The new external rules emphasize that Intel Security expects that good partners will lead with them.
“We don’t want partners sitting on the fence,” Quintero said. “We want them to get enabled with Intel Security and lead with us. We want to be their lead vendor. We don’t want to find out in the middle of the sales cycle that they are now leading with someone else. We also want them to be proactive – up-sell, cross-sell, and don’t be content to have an unchanging incumbent account for 20 years.”
The most important programmatic change – really two related changes – is the elimination of tiered pricing, with the funds saved being shifted into enhanced deal registration benefits.
“Previously, we had discounts based on the partner’s tier with the program and we have now eliminated those tier discounts and levelled them,” Quintero said. “Any new opportunity will now have more protection in deal registration. This makes the program more flexible and sustainable because a partner who is working on a deal doesn’t have to compete against the discount that a partner who isn’t working on it will get just for being part of the Platinum tier. That will help them maintain margin a little better.”
Deal registration is also now limited to one partner per each approved partner-found sales opportunity, with a margin of 25 for Platinum, 20 for Gold and 15 for Silver. The three previous deal registration programs have also been consolidated into one.
A new teaming plan has also been put in place where Intel Security’s internal people find the deal, to both reward partners who show the greatest commitment to the company, and ensure the deal is both profitable and protected for the partner.
“In every new deal, we will have partners protected, because with every opportunity we generate internally, we will provide a protection margin, although it is lower than the deal registration margin, where the partner brought the deal to us,” Quintero said. The selection of partners through this process is based on a typical formula of bookings, growth and investment, with Platinum partners de facto showing a higher level of commitment.
Incumbency advantage for partners has also been improved, with additional incentives based on the program level being automatically applied.
“Before you had to opt in, and now it’s automatic,” Quintero said. “We want to make sure partners fully leverage the program, and don’t leave money on the table.”
Finally, while the program itself was rebranded in the first stage of changes, now the partner level names have also been changed, to Platinum, Gold and Silver. This brings it in line with industry standards and eliminates common confusion when a customer could not tell whether a Premier or Elite partner was in the higher tier.
The third and final phase of the program changes are scheduled to launch in January 2016, and will reduce partner costs of doing business with Intel Security.