Centreon reinvents global partner program to impart lessons of partner-first subsidiary in North America

Centreon is based in France and has sold open source-based IT infrastructure monitoring for 15 years through a hybrid model, but the subsidiary set up in North America in 2018 was channel only, and the changes to the global program come from that subsidiary’s lessons about partner needs.

Romain Le Merlus, Centreon Co-Founder and CEO for North America

Centreon is a French based company that has been in the IT infrastructure monitoring space for 15 years, with a product based on open source. Like most of the many companies in ITIM, they began with a direct model, and added a channel model five years in. The European-based business has been using a hybrid model ever since. That hasn’t been the case in North America, however. In 2018, Centreon established its first North American operations, headquartered in Toronto, with  Romain Le Merlus, one of the company’s two co-founders, coming to North America to run the North American operations. Out of the gate, the decision was made not to sell direct, and to go with a partner only strategy. Now, influenced by the North American operation, the global partner program, Centreon ON, is being impacted by the lessons of North America.

“We launched here in North America as partner-first, but our HQ in Europe was not partner-first,” Le Merlus said. “The last 10-12 years there was a mix with a lot of direct, and making the shift there to a partner-first model was a little bit tough. But we have been impacted by our North American experience. Our new subsidiaries we have established in Switzerland, Luxembourg and the U.K. all use a partner-first strategy.”

Le Merlus said that partner-first is a necessity to keep up with the pace of today’s ITIM market.

“The market is growing fast and accelerating, so we needed to enhance what we were using before,” he indicated. “As a challenger in the market in North America, we have to be able to answer the need from partners so they can sell our solution.”

In 2017, before the launch of the North American operation, Centreon had a total of five partners.

“Now we have 40 partners, 15 of them in North America,” Le Merlus said. “They do need to be better trained, certified, and more autonomous in their ability to quote and sell Centreon. You have to be really efficient in terms of proof of concept. You have to be fast. This is a lesson we learned from our past two years here in North America, and it has been made part of our processes both here and in EMEA.”

Facilitating these skills is what the specific changes to the partner program are all about. A new Learning Management System [LMS] with a new Partner Relationship Management [PRM] platform are the key vehicles here, to provide partners with easy access to technical and sales enablement tools, as well as, ultimately, to certification.

“When we moved to North America, we knew we needed a new LMS which would provide partners with access to the same level of skills that our direct sellers have’ Le Merlus stated. “The new partner program is based on the new PRM and LMS and embraces new tooling around a partner-first strategy. We revised all the training for the sales and presales people, and our own teams have been using it for months now. We contracted with a PRM provide to make this available to partners. It’s a masterpiece for providing this new tooling system.”

Support is provided by a significantly augmented Centreon partner-facing team, including monitoring technical experts and pre-sales resources.

“When we first started the partner program in 2017, it was with a workforce of 40 people,” Le Merlus said. “We are now up to 100. We have a dedicated team on the marketing, sales and support side. We are really partner-first,and can support our partner initiatives.”

As the number of partners is still relatively small, the partner program still has a single tier, although they do have a separate section for MSPs, since they introduced the Centreon MSP Edition in September. They don’t yet use distribution in North America, although they do in Europe.