Unified BlackBerry partner program brings new reseller focus from Cylance

BlackBerry introduced its new partner program at its BlackBerry Security Summit, while emphasizing the importance of partners to the Go-to-Market strategy going forward.

May Mitchell, VP of Channel, Alliances and Field Marketing at BlackBerry

This week, at the BlackBerry Security Summit, BlackBerry announced that the BlackBerry and Cylance partner programs have been consolidated into a new BlackBerry Partner Program. That new BlackBerry program resembles the Cylance program more than the legacy BlackBerry program however.

“The new unified program leverages the Cylance program,” said May Mitchell, VP of Channel, Alliances and Field Marketing at BlackBerry. “The legacy BlackBerry program was really anchored around distribution partners. Cylance was more focused around resellers with the distributors being in a separate program. This new program is reseller focused.”

The combined program has approximately 2200 partners, which represent a fairly equal balance between the legacy companies. There was very little overlap in the partner base.

“We started designing this in February, and we came together as a combined organization in March of this year,” Mitchell indicated. “The AI tech was already embedded through the BlackBerry program by then, but the people aspect of it came together in March. We left the partner programs alone then, and announced we would come together in September.”

A key design principle – which is common when partner programs are consolidated – is to encourage the legacy partners of each legacy company to sell the offerings of the other. In this case, that is enabled by the simultaneous launch of the BlackBerry Cyber Suite, which brings the offerings from both sides of the house together in a four-product suite.

“We simplified the partner sales motion and opened up the wider portfolio to all partners,” Mitchell stated. “It’s a very clear program for both resellers and distributors.”

The new program has three tiers – Emerald, Platinum and Gold.

“We mapped the partners into the new program, and determined where they are in terms of tiers based on new business targets and technical capability,” Mitchell said.

The new program also includes a ‘Partner Protection’ feature that heavily weights compensation toward deal registration rather than basic tier discount.

“The way that it is organized, everyone starts at the low level of discount without deal registration, and the deal reg gives you up to 30% of additional discount on top of that,” Mitchell stated. “For partners that are proactive in renewals, we work closely with them and honor the renewal.

Deal registration, as well as access to online training and sales and marketing collateral, is provided through a new partner portal. The training is online and modular and is focused specifically on BlackBerry Spark Suites.

“We have simplified the training requirements and refreshed the content,” Mitchell said. “Both Partner Sales and Partner Technical Sales tracks are required.

“Once the partner does their sales and technical training, they get a free NFR kit – that’s new,” Mitchell added. “We also now have demo labs for a sandbox environment.”

Resources to support partners through the new program have been augmented.

“We doubled the resources that we provide to work closely with partners,” Mitchell said. “This includes doubling the number of people, such as SEs who work with partners, and partner marketing individuals in the field.”

BlackBerry also unveiled a pair of new incentives at their Virtual Partner Day on Monday.

“We just rolled out some promotional offers around new business growth and  new customer logos for cybersecurity,” Mitchell noted.

The united BlackBerry Partner program will play a key role in BlackBerry’s Go-To-Market strategy going forward, something CEO Joh Chen discussed in his opening keynote at the Security Summit.

“The one area you all tell me is your Go-to-Market needs to be broader, needs to be well known,” Chen told the virtual audience. “You need to tell people about what you do. That is one area that I have been working on for the last two to three years. I am very pleased to tell you we are seeing the beginning of the results of that coming together. A lot of people think of Go-to-Market as more feet on the street, getting the message out, beating the drum louder, talking about it a lot more. Its way beyond people and activities. It’s a thoughtful coming together of incentive plans, of mindsets, of partnerships, of channels, Every one of those areas are a combination of art and science by itself. In order to solve our customers] more urgent problems, all of these need to come together.”

Mitchell stressed that communicating this message to partners is critical.

“This is why we have the Summit,” she said. “We have to provide our partners with what the Go-To-Market strategy is, and how partners participate in that growth. Understanding the sales plays, tools and training that they need and how we take it to market together is what Partner Day was all about. It’s one thing for a vendor to have plans they want to do, but they have to communicate them effectively to their ecosystem.”