Silver Peak completely reworks channel program to add predictability and enhance partner profitability

Silver Peak acknowledged that its old partner program, implemented in 2015, was deficient in key respects, and has completely restructured the program in order to remedy those problems.

Michael O’Brien, vice president of worldwide channel sales at Silver Peak

Today, SD-WAN vendor Silver Peak is announcing what is in essence a brand new channel program. The program that existed before had significant limitations, and has been gutted and reworked.

“We wanted to make the program better and make it more financially rewarding,” said Michael O’Brien, vice president of worldwide channel sales at Silver Peak. “With this new program, we are giving partners tools to do good prospecting, good sales, good deployments, and to make money in services.”

The program that is now being completely remodelled was originally implemented in 2015 under earlier channel leadership.

“The focus of that program was getting partners to transition from selling WAN optimization to getting them to sell SD-WAN,” O’Brien said. “We spent a lot of time discussing the program with partners. They told us that the program needs to be more predictable and easy to use.”

O’Brien explained what a lack of predictability meant in this context.

“As a partner, if I make an investment in time and effort, there has to be a direct correlation to the benefits I see, to the financial rewards I have access to, and how you as a vendor will help me get opportunities,” he said. “Partners told us that it needed to be clearer how they would be rewarded for investing in us. Everything has to have an ROI. We want to make sure that the program has a good ROI.”

O’Brien also said the last program was also lacking in many of the table stakes partners expect today from a Tier One partner program.

“We never made the program more financially interesting and rewarding,” he stated. “We also didn’t give the partners enough tools, or show them the path to selling services.”

Making the rewards clearer starts with new partner tier criteria, making it explicit what is required at the Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers in terms of revenue and training requirements.

“There weren’t any thresholds at all before,” O’Brien said. “That meant that partners had trouble understanding how they qualified for tiers. This was something that was intended to be put in later, when the program was created last time, but it never got done. We have now set the qualifications for appropriate levels, so that it can be clear to a partner what the ROI is.”

A new Partner Accelerator program, available to the top two tiers, Gold and Platinum, creates new incentives for meeting growth initiatives in selling the Unity EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform. New incents will be introduced every 6 months and offered for a period of 6-to-12 months. They will span multiple reward levels and include partner level, sales and technical team rewards.

“The idea here is to give partners multiple ways to win,” O’Brien said. “We support double digits on the front end of the sale, but the back end can get 5, 7 or 12 points as well for meeting criteria.” The deals must be registered to get these rebates, and O’Brien said they approve about 80 per cent of deals.

Silver Peak is kicking the program off with two programs. A New Customer Incentive of up to 10 per cent margin will be paid to the partner at the close of a new EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform opportunity. This incentive not only includes the initial order, but extends to all follow-on business from that customer for 12 months following the initial sale.

“The incentive follows a customer for 12 months because customers often add deployments beyond the initial one,” O’Brien said. “It applies to brand new logos and to customer who have Silver Peak WAN optimization deployments, but not SD-WAN ones. Given that Silver Peak has 3000 WAN optimization customers, and only 1000 SD-WAN customers, some of who are not also WAN optimization customers, a significant number of customers are covered here.

The second program is a Fast Start Incentive, in which an additional two per cent incentive will be paid against all new EdgeConnect customer sales. This incentive is stackable with the New Customer Incentive. Having two separate programs like this gives Silver Peak the flexibility to move comp levels around.

Silver Peak also announced that it is enhancing its enablement tools and resources through the program. The training materials and courses have all been updated.

Silver Peak will also provide Platinum partners with direct access to their Silver Peak Technology Experience Center, an online platform that allows quick prototyping, testing and demonstration of the technical features and capabilities of the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform.

“We have used this as an internal tool for rapid prototyping of a customer’s internal environment,” O’Brien said. “It’s only available to Platinum partners because there is a cost to us for its use.”

Silver Peak has also invested in a newly formed field marketing team that will work closely with partners to develop integrated marketing plans.

“Before, we only had one person out of corporate that did field marketing,” O’Brien said. “We are now fully staffed for this in the U.S. and in Europe.”

O’Brien also highlighted an Authorized Deployment Partner program that was announced in August of 2018, which provides a path for partners to become a certified post-sales arm of Silver Peak around the EdgeConnect SD-WAN edge platform.

“We took all of our knowledge around what successful deployments look like, in order to be able to walk partners through to become an Authorized Deployment Partner,” O’Brien said. “It’s initially limited to a subset of Platinum partners, and will let them make incremental revenue, but it will eventually be expanded much more broadly.”