Citrix Systems unveiled a consolidated overhaul of several reseller programs Monday, simplifying the compensation structure for partners while incentivizing them to prioritize cloud sales.
Craig Stilwell, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based company's channel chief, told CRN the many programs had grown too complex, and the new one, dubbed Citrix Ultimate Rewards, realizes a pledge he made to partners almost a year ago to streamline deal registration.
"The idea was to simplify, make it transparent and predictable to the partner," he said. "In today's world, you have to be a little bit of an expert in our programs to get the most out of them."
Citrix Ultimate Rewards was first described to the company's wider channel Monday at the Citrix Summit conference in Anaheim, Calif. The changes take effect Feb. 10.
The program shifts several incentives to the front end, and speeds obtaining quotes for deals.
It replaces five deal-specific programs, including Citrix Advisor Rewards (CAR). While each of those made sense in themselves, Stilwell told CRN, because they became layered on top of each other over the years they burdened partners with undue complexity.
"Different partners were getting different levels of compensation depending on what type of partner they were and what programs they were involved in, with some incentives on the front end, some on the back end," Stilwell said.
Citrix wanted to make it easier for partners to quickly quote prices to their customers.
Citrix is calling the front-end incentives Spark and Drive, which respectively reward resellers for identifying new deals and for adding value toward successful sales.
The remaining back-end rebate, called Accelerate, rewards partners for their commitment to Citrix and meeting certain milestones, such as overall product sales growth and new cloud subscription sales, which are not tied to specific deals. That is paid quarterly.
As part of the program shift, Citrix is also weighting incentives toward sales of its cloud services over perpetual licenses.
"We're tilting the balance of rewards on deals in favor of Citrix Cloud, reflecting where the company is going and making sure partners are aligning with where we're going, which is Citrix Cloud," Stilwell told CRN.
Complementing the revamped incentive structure, Citrix is introducing advanced automation technologies to smooth the approval process, including a layer of artificial intelligence.
"Today, it's mostly a human being pushing a button of whether a partner gets accepted into a specific reward," he said.
But by deploying "relatively sophisticated AI," that ultimately should lead partners to get their answers within a minute.
"We're going to send a small amount of transactions through this AI at first, but when it gets more trained, more will become automated," Stilwell told CRN.
Currently, partners often answer more than 30 questions before getting a deal registered. The program being rolled out shouldn't require answers to more than nine.
"Operationally, that should make things a lot smoother for our partners," Stilwell said. "They're not going to need to have dedicated admins to understand all these rules and regulations like many do today. That should attract more sellers to our mix."
In designing Ultimate Rewards, Citrix worked with industry analysts and select partners.
IntraSystems, a Citrix partner based in Braintree, Mass., was one of the solution providers that helped Citrix shape the program over the past several months.
Paul Kunze, IntraSystems vice president of sales and marketing, said partners encouraged Citrix to modify an earlier proposed model by rewarding specializations with back-end incentives, and the vendor obliged.
The previous amalgam of channel programs did grow overcomplicated, Kunze said.
While IntraSystems reps who had worked with Citrix for many years were proficient at navigating their nuances, he said, new sales reps or newly recruited partners struggled with the convoluted registration process.
Citrix's channel chief "just wanted to simplify the process, and he's done that," Kunze told CRN.
And higher margins for reselling cloud licenses is a "nugget they put in the program that really helps us," Kunze said. "We're trying to transition our company. We've done a pretty good job, but a lot of customers haven't. That helps us drive our business in the direction we want to take it. Salespeople will sell what they get paid the most for."
Nancy Pautsch, president of Envision IT, said the Madison, Wis.-based compay has already embraced Citrix Cloud, and the higher cloud incentive will reward it for that progress.
"We've been cloud-enabled for years. For us it's a natural fit," Pautsch told CRN.
"In Citrix style, they've been helping partners realign their business to where the industry is going so they're not left behind," she said.
That started by training partners to evolve their businesses to transact in cloud services. The higher incentives for selling those licenses is the next step.
"They’ve given tools, enablement over the last year to get there. Now it's rewarding partners for having done the work, and helping them align their business smartly for the long term," Pautsch told CRN.