CloudBolt reworks channel program to demonstrate new 100% channel commitment

Larry Kraft, who came to CloudBolt last year and has designed the new program, explains how it represents a major improvement over the company’s past channel policies and programs.

Larry Kraft, Senior Vice President, Global Channels and Alliances, at CloudBolt

Today, cloud management platform provider CloudBolt Software is unveiling their new Rainmaker Channel Partner Program. Designed by a new channels leader, Larry Kraft, who joined CloudBolt last year, the program has been designed to focus on quality of partners, and maximize their chances of being effective and highly profitable.

When Kraft arrived, CloudBolt’s Go-to-Market model was hybrid, and while they described themselves as channel-friendly, they were not 100% channel.

“Creating this position of mine in the company was a commitment to show that this company needed to be 100% channel,” Kraft told ChannelBuzz. “The 100% channel commitment came in with my hire. There was a channel team with CloudBolt before, and most of those folks left with the arrival of the new CEO [Jeff Kukowski, in May 2020]. I had worked with him and the new CRO at two previous companies, and my familiarity with the CEO and CRO gave me the confidence to articulate that we had to put this out into the market. We won’t walk away from a customer who wants direct only. But we top out at 15 reps globally, so our reach is limited. It’s important when you say you are 100% channel that partners see that it is the case.”

When Kraft joined CloudBolt, they had a Global Partner Connect program already in place.

“I was not specifically brought in to replace it, but I was brought in to assess it,” he said. “We had just acquired SovLabs and Kumolus as well. So, I assessed the channel model and program as well as what the two other companies we acquired were doing. I determined that I inherited was okay in name, but it wasn’t a consistent approach. It was focused on quantity of partners, not quality. That’s not effective for a company’s hypergrowth stage. The real meat and potatoes of a program tends to fall down when any underpinnings are broken and you continue to sign more partners.”

Kraft said that after this original assessment was done, the tasks then became to  figure out how to bring the three companies together programmatically, and how to make it all work effectively.

“That’s why while I joined in July, we are just rolling out the program now,” he said.

The new program starts with very high financial compensation for partners, which include a variety of discounts, renewals, referral fees, sell-through margins and SPIFFS.

“The financial incentives we have put in place are fantastic,” Kraft said. “Are they the very best in the industry? No, but they are in the top 5%. They are extremely aggressive, as they need to be in order to get good partners to look at a company our size.”

The program also now ensures that every lead is referred to a channel partner, reflecting that 100% channel commitment.

Kraft said that the program’s philosophy is also critical.

“The objective is how to best help our partners to stay relevant as trusted advisors,” he indicated. “My job is to build a framework that lets them establish or keep their position as a trusted advisor. No partner will be pigeonholed into any one use case with us. Partners have told us that this gives them a great ability to have multiple arrows in the quiver.”

The program has four tiers – from top to bottom Storm, Lightning, Thunder and Wind, with Wind, “which is where a storm begins,” being the referral program.

“The whole program will have under 100 partners, including under 20 in the top tier,” Kraft said.

This will include MSP partners, some of whom became partners through the recent acquisitions.

“More organizations adopt our cloud management platform to be part of a cloud managed service,” Kraft said. “Kumolus lets us offer cloud optimization as a managed service.”

Partners are provided with comprehensive on-boarding and training, and a certification system is being built out.

“We are building the plane while we are flying it,” Kraft said. “We also hired a VP of Customer Satisfaction for the buildout of CloudBolt university and Centre of Excellence.”

Finally, CloudBolt’s portal now provides, in addition to the staples like deal registration and access to co-branded collateral templates, the ability to apply for MDF, request NFR/Trial license keys, and get access to the Learning Management system through CloudBolt University for training and certifications.