Increased investment. More predictable engagements. Simplified incentives.
On Monday, the company’s top sales and partner executives including Kimberly Martin, vice president of partner strategy and sales, took the stage at the MGM Grand to make the case that Citrix provides third-party allies with significant market opportunity. The company’s mix of virtualization, security, convergence, enterprise mobility and remote access technologies are ideally positioned to help customers achieve their business goals, she said, especially mid-sized commercial customers.
During a 30-minute address, Martin said Citrix is poised to solve customer challenges in vertical markets such as healthcare, financial services and education, and equally positioned to help with horizontal needs including Windows 10 migrations, remote access securitization and total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction.
To help partners make the most of these opportunities, Citrix announced several amendments to its partner program. “We want to be the easiest company of all to do business with,” Martin said this week in Las Vegas.
To that end, Citrix will, among other things:
- Open the previously invite-only Citrix Advisor Rewards (CAR) program to all Citrix partners
- Offer sales coaching and simplified programmatic terms and conditions
- Repurpose existing business development specialists to work as Partner Account Managers (PAMs) tasked to help partners qualify for incentives, manage sales pipelines, run social media marketing campaigns and manage their mid-market accounts
- Introduce new partner sales kits designed to help partners grow their professional services businesses
The changes are welcome news to partners who have endured significant upheaval with Citrix over the last year. The changes began a year ago and reached a crescendo in June 2015 when Elliott Management, a hedge fund that owned 7.1 percent of Citrix’s stock, demanded that the Citrix board of directors take action to focus the company. Since then, the company has named a new, interim CEO (board member Bob Calderoni replaced outgoing CEO Mark Templeton), and narrowed its product portfolio. In November, the company announced that it would spin out its “GoTo” family of products into a separate company, and just this week Citrix disclosed that it sold its CloudPlatform and CloudPortal Business Manager product lines to Accelerite, a division of Persistent Systems that provides infrastructure software for cloud, mobility and endpoint solutions.
“Citrix is taking an already good program and making it even stronger,” says Ken Phelan, chief technology officer at Gotham, a New York area Platinum-level Citrix partner.
That certainly was the message that Martin provided in an interview with The VAR Guy and during her remarks to the press on Monday. Among other things, she noted that Citrix does 90 percent of its business through partners. But its sales model is more complicated than other vendors. More than two thirds of its revenue, for example, is generated by deals worked jointly between Citrix partners and Citrix direct sales teams.
Martin told The VAR Guy that her arrival in September “was a little bit bumpy” but that things have since calmed down significantly. Since joining the company, the Microsoft veteran has completed a deep dive study of the Citrix partner ecosystem. Over the course of more than 70 different meetings with partners, she has learned that partners like existing programs but crave simplicity. She also learned that partners want more enablement support, and more incentives to enhance their profitability.
The work has convinced her that the company needs more regional systems integrators in its program, and pure-play networking partners in particular. To that end, Martin is looking at what role distributors can play in both partner recruitment and enablement. While the company has several distributors overseas in key markets, it engages only one in the U.S., Ingram Micro. While no decisions have been made, Martin is clearly mulling what another distribution partnership could do for the company.
“My No. 1 hire in the near term is a worldwide VP for distribution. And we need a global program,” said Martin. “We have a lot of different things in different regions. To be completely transparent, we have a single distributor in the U.S. As we go into fiscal year 2016, we are evaluating that. That’s not typical in the industry to have one distributor in the U.S.”
Martin and her colleagues noted that of the 250,000 customers that Citrix sells to, 78 percent have bought just one product. The opportunity to land new business, expand existing business and partner for success are her top priorities, she said. To help in that regard, the company is profiling customer use cases and creating various “Citrix partner-led service offerings.”
So far, the messages seem to be resonating. When Martin, for example, put up a slide that said “Citrix♥Partners,” nearly everyone in the room stood to give her an ovation.