AvePoint continues channel consistency strategy with new partner program

The new program, which is designed to be simple and flexible, dumps some program concepts the company considers legacy, and moves to a two-tiered structure of Authorized and Invested partners.

Jason Beal, senior vice president of global channel and partner ecosystems, AvePoint

In December 2020, channel veteran Jason Beal, who spent sixteen years combined at Palo Alto Networks and Ingram Micro, joined AvePoint as their senior vice president of global channel and partner ecosystems. He pledged then to take steps to deliver more structure and consistency to AvePoint’s channel strategy. AvePoint is an ISV that develops collaboration, security and governance solutions, which include migration and digital rights management, primarily for the Microsoft platform. Today, he is delivering on the latest stage of that pledge, as AvePoint is announcing their first global partner program.

“We took best practices from some of our existing regional programs and brought them together here,” Beal told ChannelBuzz. “We didn’t have partner programs in all regions before, but this is the company’s first global partner program.”

The new program comes on the heels of earlier initiatives intended to make AvePoint’s channel management more effective.

“I work off the philosophy that you need to win the hearts and minds of partner engineering teams,” Beal said. “That’s where you have tighter and deeper integration with the partners. In the last two quarters, we made notable investments in new resources, a channel SE, and Partner Success Managers {PSMs]. We brought on these new resources to work hand in glove with partner engineering and partner services teams.”

Beal emphasized that the PSMs are a completely new addition for AvePoint, and are differentiated from PAMs [Partner Account Managers] in that their focus is more technical.

“The PSMs could also be called be Partner Technical Success Managers,” Beal said. “These are truly technical managers who bring our technology into partners’ solutions. They understand how our technology fits into their solutions and how we create a co-services opportunity that partners take to market. That’s what they do.”

The new global partner program builds on this same strategy of giving partners access to more tools needed for success in today’s market.

“There are a lot of legacy partner programs built a decade ago that are still largely focused on an industry that resells hardware and software,” Beal said. “When we listened to partners, we heard three things. First, they told us that there are a lot of different business models for modern partners, and the framework should meet those different needs. Second, they wanted us to keep it simple. Third, some partners want to continue to be transactional while many partners and influencers are non-transactional, and we wanted a program to suit both.”

The new program dispenses with the Metallic Tiers, and divides partners into two tiers – Authorized and the refreshingly-named Invested.

“Invested represents a mutual investment,” Beal said. “I’ve always gone off the quality of partner, not quantity of partners. We want to invest in partners that invest in us, through things like services co-creation, and embedding our technology in them. That’s how we invest in them.”

Beal said the ratio of Authorized to Invested partners is likely to be in line overall with the 80-20 Pareto Principle, although it will vary locally depending on specific regional dynamics.

“Each country has different channel dynamics, depending on how top heavy and long tail they are,” he noted.

The basic principle around the Authorized partner requirements is to make it easy to do business with AvePoint.

“Partners told us to keep the barriers to entry for Authorized low, and that they didn’t want to buy things like hardware and NFR licenses,” Beal said. No certifications are required for Authorized partners either. Authorized Partners get their distribution discounts, quarterly sales rebates, and access to the Partner support centre, Partner newsletter, and NFR licenses.

Invested Partners receive higher distribution discounts, and quarterly sales incentives, and the other benefits Authorized partners get. They also get Success Plan Rebates, access to partner appreciation events, and exclusive product updates.”

“We do recognize that it’s a different channel today, so that when partners come into our portal, there’s a customized My Journey section where, depending on their business model, we will have a unique journey customized for their business,” Beal said. “In terms of what partners are required to invest, in the spirit of a global framework with local adaptability, local country teams will determine individual partner requirements, looking at how our technology fits into their Go-to-Market.

“We don’t use Specialization or Track terms, but the ways we work with each type of partner are unique,” Beal added. “Within the program framework, there are different benefits for MSP, SI, VAR, cloud or digital consultant or DevOps partners, and we have right-sized training and enablement for each.”

The compensation and incentives framework has been overhauled, with deal registration also being added for the first time.

“Partners want simple and predictable,” Beal said. “Before, there were not uniform front end or back end compensation, and we did not have Success Plan rebates, When Invested Partners work with our local teams, those teams can define how partners monetize their relationships with AvePoint. MSPs might focus on revenue per user. SIs might work on integrating via APIs. The Success Plans define these rebate structures. The old way of doing things as a percentage of sales is legacy stuff.”

Enablement resources have been increased with the addition of two dozen technical resources across the globe that will be available for personalized training and onboarding.

AvePoint will now provide 24/7, 365 days of the year live support and portal access to partners.

“This is a key differentiator – 24/7/365  support,” Beal said. “We have added new resources and notably increased investment for this.”

One new capability for partners is IP co-creation. AvePoint will offer MSPs the ability to co-build unique products and services for their customers, leveraging AvePoint’s experience around Microsoft.

“This is brand new, and reflects the fact that partners don’t want to just resell,” Beal said. “They are looking for stickiness around services and IP co-creation is key to that. We have 20 years experience in developing on the Microsoft platform, and will unleash that with partners to help them create their unique IP. This is a differentiator that will allow partners to meet their customers’ unique needs and secure higher margins.”

Partners will also have access to AvePoint’s broad Microsoft 365 experience, particularly around Teams, Azure consumption, and SMC market penetration.

Finally, the new program will feature improved marketing and co-selling opportunities, including comprehensive go-to-market kits and co-selling support to help partners close new business opportunities.

“We’ve seen there’s a big opportunity for securing collaboration, and we have the best collaboration security platform,” Beal said. “We think there’s a big opportunity to increase average revenue per user by selling this collaboration security platform. That’s what the new kits are about.”

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