Pivot3 expands partner program and makes it more formalized and predictable

Pivot3 has a large channel, and the changes are designed to both provide increased support for go-to partners while ensuring the large majority of partners receive necessary protection and support to close deals.

Mark Maisano, Pivot3’s VP of Channel Sales

Today, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) vendor Pivot3 is announcing its expanded Global Partner Program. While the program adds a second tier to better support their top partners, it also takes new steps to protect the businesses of smaller partners, to encourage their Pivot3 business. The changes also have a common theme in removing a lot that had been ad hoc and unsystematic in the old program, and making it more formal, professional and predictable.

“The old program dates from back when we were much more focused on video-surveilliance, with a smaller amount of data centre business,” said Mark Maisano, Pivot3’s VP of Channel Sales. “Now we have a pretty diverse ecosystem, with both data centre and video, and which spans from SMB all the way to enterprise.”

A signal moment in this change was Pivot3’s April release of Acuity, the industry’s first priority-aware HCI software platform, which allows for the effective consolidation of multiple mixed-application workloads onto a single infrastructure.

“We’ve changed the HCI conversation with our Acuity technology and its multiple workloads and QOS,” Maisano said. “As we grow as a company, as part of our strategic plan, we are investing in the program so that it grows as well, and so that the channel sees a much bigger investment into the channel community.  The program now has become more professionalized, formalized and predictable.”

Pivot3 has quite a large channel for a company its size, with over 1000 partners. The old program grouped them all into a single tier, with no formal certification program and a deal registration system that could best be described as informal. All that has changed.

“We wanted to address a large partner ecosystem, and at the same time make sure we could segment our strong go-to-market partmers with programs that would be very valuable to them,” Maisano said. “This would provide the smaller partner with protection and a reason to invest in us, while at the same time making sure we leverage the partners who sell the more expensive pieces of our offerings. We didn’t want a program that was so heavily weighted to a handful of partners that it pushes away SMBs and ones starting up new practices because it isn’t equitable and doesn’t provide the right level of protection. We want them to know that if they invest in a customer they can be profitable and not worry about a larger partrner sweeping the deal away.”

Squaring this circle involves several components. The program has now been divided into two revenue-based tiers, Premier and Associate, to provide more support for the Premier partners. Three sales and technical enablement certifications have also been introduced: the Pivot3 Certified Sales Professional, Pivot3 Certified Pre-Sales Technical Professional and Pivot3 Certified Service Delivery Professional.

“There wasn’t a formalized program before, even through we provided training with classes,” Maisano said. “We did some technical post-sales with a couple partners in the US who did implementation, but it wasn’t structured with a certification. Now that we have a more formal process, we make it easier for partners to provide installation and ongoing professional services. While before we had a limited channel organization trying to service hundreds of customers with limited resources, we have now expanded the resources and have a much more formalized and professional enablement and support structure.”

Maisano also stressed that Associate partners are eligible for the certifications.

“Some of our smaller partners have strong technical abilities in specific verticals on which they focus, so would benefit from a Certified Service Delivery Certification,” he said. “This isn’t limited by revenue only. That’s a big piece.”

Maisano emphasized as well that the new program’s more rigorous deal registration provisions work to the advantage of smaller partners.

“Deal registration existed before, but it wasn’t required and didn’t always drive the discounts,” he said. “Many deals weren’t registered. We made deal registration part of the whole process with Acuity. And now we have structured the discounts overall so that even though they increase based on tier, the majority of discounts go through deal registration. It is designed so that even a small SMB-focused VAR will have an advantage if they have registered the deal.”

The MDF program has been expanded and converted to a proposal-based system.

“There wasn’t a formal process at all before.” Maisano indicated. “Historically, on earned MDF, all that money went to a pretty finite number of top partners. With the proposal based system, both large and small partners who can show a good ROI with a Go to Market plan are eligible. This gives us a better opportunity to invest the money.”

Co-marketing benefits have also been improved. While there was content syndication before, it now has more resources. New are a marketing platform with social media support, qualified lead passing and quarterly campaign planning assets.

“We will also be leveraging our strategic alliances to help create solutions for the partners,” Maisano pointed out.