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The rules of engagement between partners and their vendors

Shantheri Mallaya | Nov. 1, 2013
Amid the mish mash of the dollar-rupee yo-yo and a host of other political imbroglios, one wonders whether partner programs are keeping pace and staying relevant with the new realities of economics.

Nevertheless, both Singh and Madhavan concur that HP as a vendor, is extremely mature in handling channels besides also doling out generous amounts of the Market Development Fund (MDF) to partners for promotional activities, and schemes in the storage and networking space. Madhavan observes that these schemes are designed to help sales personnel at partner organizations as well and is quite interesting that the vendor has the foresight to think on these lines. "My sales people are able to earn on the Itanium servers. But, what is lacking is adequate monitoring," says Madhavan.

Partners feel that a local HP contact must engage with them and review these schemes every fortnight, and also talk to partners about any other hassle that they may have."The practical aspects of HP's partner program, by and large, work without hassles.

All that remains is to refine and rationalize it further," says Madhavan.

Dell and Citrix have apparently got the stick for poor levels of channel engagement. 3in Solutions' Arun laments that Dell doesn't have a very good understanding of the channels, and its incentives are not too well thought-out. This can be explained by the fact that Dell has a huge catch up game to play, being a late channel entrant. However, it does manage to get around 6-8 percent on Dell's EqualLogic boxes, the only hitch is that the vendor's insistence on partners to look at enterprise business to stay profitable can boomerang. A lot of partners get a chunk of their toplines through client or end-user selling. If they have to abandon that and look at something else, then Arun feels the value proposition better be strong.

Citrix, on the other hand, needs to step up the ratio of partner-to-vendor coverage teams. These teams need to engage more effectively with partners when closure of deals happen. "The vendor has promised to take a look at these aspects; new people have been appointed at the helm and at the mid level. It is early days, so change is still some distance away," says Mehta.

Cisco's partner program audit has got a bright score. It has outsourced its audit to an agency—based out of Singapore and the US—to validate its partner program initiatives. Partners get strong feedback post audit.

The last audit, which was carried out on video, helped Proactive assess its capabilities and competencies in the domain. Also, in August this year, Cisco has decided to dedicate one-fourth of its system engineers time to partners to help them as account managers. This, if implemented in essence, can change some portion of the Cisco partner program in a big way.


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