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“We’re asking partners to be engaged,” says Brian Allison, the company’s channel chief.
September 22, 2020
Prompted by business changes over the past two years and hastened by COVID-19, Snow Software has redesigned its partner program. The changes will take effect in January.
Snow Software’s Brian Allison
“We’re giving partners plenty of notice that this is where we’re going,” Brian Allison, vice president of global channels and alliances at Snow Software, told Channel Futures.
The company’s products help organizations manage IT assets, including cloud and SaaS.
“They can spend the next 90 days deciding where they want to go,” he added. “Then they have until springtime to finish up and get going on that. This is a big change for them, so we want to be respectful of their need to do their 2021 planning.”
The big change mainly comes down to what Snow Software will expect from the channel.
“We’re asking partners to be engaged in terms of understanding customer pain points, get involved in coming up with thoughtful and proactive recommendations, then implement them and make them stick,” Allison said.
Contrast that with the more transactional approach partners tended to take in the past and some may have to make some major adjustments to their work with Snow Software. Snow has anticipated that possibility. It has done away with its old six-tier model – each of which had about four versions throughout the world – and slimmed down to three, with one version, to accommodate a range of partners and capabilities:
Certified: Snow describes these partners as often just starting out with the company. They may still be building a joint business strategy, and/or they may function as boutique firms and independent consultants. Certified partners have flexibility for specialization and growth, Snow says.
Expert: These mid-level partners have proven experience in software asset or cloud management. They also have teamed with Snow for a while. These participants receive more support and resources for marketing and enablement, as is typical within tertiary channel programs.
Elite: These partners assume the greatest responsibility for the customer and, at the same time, earn the biggest rewards from Snow.
On top of that, Snow Software has added and shifted details in key areas.
The vendor now offers new deal registration incentives, including partner profit protection for co-selling opportunities.
“The important part there is the co-selling,” Allison said. “We haven’t necessarily differentiated between Mr. and Ms. Partner before and said, ‘These are the things we expect you to be driving.’”
Now, Snow requires partners to qualify an opportunity, conduct demonstrations, do configuration quoting and pricing, and deliver its own services.
“We’re saying when you do those things we’re going to reward you handsomely with deal registration and deal registration margins that are higher than what Snow has traditionally done,” Allison said.
To be sure, such conditions will be second nature for …
… managed service providers, value-added resellers and other next-generation partners accustomed providing services. For the most part, transactional selling has fallen to the wayside, as most within the channel know.
By the same token, Snow has instituted new renewal and customer-success rebates.
“We’re thinking about the outcomes we’re trying to drive for customers,” Allison said. “Think about renewal as a significant milestone in that. Customer success is a huge milestone in that. … Snow is explicitly rewarding for those outcomes now.”
As partners might expect, rebates vary by tier. Along similar lines, the higher the tier, the more co-marketing and market development funds a partner gets from Snow.
“Snow is a platform play,” Allison said.
Because of that, partners have greater opportunity to get enterprises to invest throughout the vendor’s ecosystem. The deeper a Snow partner goes within a client, the more enablement Snow provides. This looks like exclusive co-marketing investment, for one thing, as well as MDFs.
The latter will not come at the deal level, Allison said. Rather, “these are monies we’re going to reinvest on probably a quarterly basis with our partners that go right back in to the practices, whether it’s sales, presales, delivery. … We’re not dropping money into individual transactions. We’re investing back into the business,” he said.
In addition, Snow is enhancing its partner training and certification covering cloud, SAP and software asset management. Allison and his team developed the curricula, basing them on common market best practices. And the delivery method of partner education is new for Snow: Partners now will train and certify over the internet.
“That’s a new thing for us,” Allison said. “Some of it is the current environment but also conscious decisions we made to scale. We’ll do it in person if we need to but we’re not dependent on having to do that.”
Another major difference lies in how Snow Software applies its designations.
“These certifications are going to individuals, so that’s good for their careers,” Allison said. “We’re not certifying companies.”
“That’s a big change from what Snow’s been in the past,” he added.
Finally, partners can look forward to a portal with detailed self-service capabilities. A year ago, Allison said, partners could not get certain important information from the portal; for example, they could not view their bookings or see their Snow revenue.
“None of that was available,” Allison said.
That will no longer be the case. Partners will have access to all the data they need, in one place, as they sell Snow platforms. They also will get to take part in a communities portal where they can share and glean insight with and from peers.
Allison said Snow Software decided to upgrade its partner program as a number of factors came together in 2020.
First, of course, COVID-19 sneaked up on businesses, forcing them to send employees to work from home. IT teams suddenly needed to deploy cloud and mobility tools to support remote staff, and often lacked those resources and the requisite guidance. The pandemic also immediately impacted budgeting while sending costs for cloud and mobility higher. IT experts continue to grapple with …
… these challenges and likely will for months to come. In fact, Snow this summer predicted that partners’ soaring cloud opportunity will last even after coronavirus crisis ends.
“It’s a super-critical time for customers,” Allison said.
Meanwhile, Snow itself reached new records for annual recurring revenue, wrapped up its purchase of Embotics and kept beefing up its platform. Then, as enterprises began to face new obstacles the vendor could help overcome, it decided to redo its channel program. However a partner joins forces with Snow doesn’t really matter to Allison. What matters is the level of involvement and guidance provided to organizations.
“The main thing is whether they can nurture that customer success,” he said.
And, Allison said, partners are receptive.
“They welcome this because they know they need to evolve their business to be delivering outcomes as well,” he said.
Ulrik Roland, group vice president, software and cloud advisory for consultancy Crayon Group, agreed with Allison’s assessment.
Crayon Group’s Ulrik Roland
“The new partner program is to me a great improvement,” he told Channel Futures. “The fact that Snow will reward partners based on customer satisfaction and retention is very much in line with Crayon’s own client-relation DNA; therefore, I see this as a significant opportunity.”
Plus, Roland said, the revenue-based marketing fund will come in handy for Crayon.
“This gives us flexibility and agility to support local market initiatives when needed,” he said.
Kevin Hooton, service lead, asset management, for solutions partner SoftwareOne, made similar observations.
SoftwareOne’s Kevin Hooton
“The changes reflect well on Snow for acknowledging the value their partners provide and building a program that incentivizes partners to ramp up their skills and their sales,” he told Channel Futures. “The keys for me are the new partner requirements, access to Snow Academy for all my consultants and clarity on how we all make money. The other part I really appreciate is an emphasis on customer success and retention, as this is how software partnerships succeed or fail.”
Both Hooton and Roland cited Snow’s new practice of assigning a manager to partners as a big benefit.
“In my experience, the challenges of educating, joint marketing and issue escalation across a large-scale software asset management program like ours requires Snow to have a single point of contact who can work quickly with my team,” Hooton said.
“I am looking forward the collaboration with our new global partner account manager from Snow,” he said.
For Hooton, having that dedicated person to turn to ties in to doing everything possible to ensure happy clients.
“It all begins and ends with our customers,” he said. “I would like to see Snow put the pedal down on customer satisfaction. Together we have to deliver quickly, increase time to value and respond to customer issues faster than ever.”
Crayon’s Roland only has one piece of advice for Snow regarding improvements to the new partner program.
“I would encourage Snow to include global market leaders like Crayon in advisory on the technology road map,” he said.
Snow Software has a little more than 1,000 partners worldwide. Only about a quarter of those have been active so far, but as the company ramps up the new program, that figure stands to change. Again, channel partners have through the end of the year to determine how they want to work with Snow before the company kicks off the new structure at the beginning of 2021.
Contributing Editor, Channel Futures
Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.
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