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ServiceNow will increase financial incentives, but partners will have to meet new requirements.
January 17, 2023
ServiceNow has tapped Erica Volini to lead the company’s global channels. In her first act as ServiceNow’s channel leader, Volini on Tuesday revealed that the company is revamping its partner program.
ServiceNow’s Erica Volini
Volini is replacing David Parsons as senior vice president of alliances and channel ecosystem. Parsons, who led ServiceNow’s channel for over four years, has a new role charting geographic expansion opportunities for the company.
ServiceNow announced the changes at its Partner Kickoff event in Las Vegas. Volini joined ServiceNow in 2021 as senior vice president of go-to-market operations after 23 years as a senior partner at Deloitte. During her last year at Deloitte, Volini was chief commercial officer for its relationship with ServiceNow.
Volini worked closely with CEO Bill McDermott, who recruited her to join ServiceNow. “When I came over, it was clear that there was a huge opportunity to do transformation, which is my specialty, having been a lifelong consultant, and the partner world felt like a good place to start,” Volini told Channel Futures. Speaking just before the Partner Kickoff, Volini said ServiceNow is “resetting and transforming” the program, which launches on March 6.
The changes include “addressing some of the process and technology and operational gaps that we had in the partner world — everything from our deal registration process, to how we manage deployments, to what our portal looks like,” Volini said. “That includes the underlying infrastructure, process, policy and technology.”
The program lets partners classify themselves among four segments: Build, Consulting and Implementation, Resale and Service Provider. According to Volini, partners can identify themselves as one, a few or all of those segments.
ServiceNow will maintain its existing partner tiers: Registered, Specialist, Premier, Elite and Global Elite. But for Build partners, ServiceNow has created different tiers that identify them based on their platform competency.
One significant change is that ServiceNow will require partners to qualify for each tier based on their qualifications in for each segment. Until now, ServiceNow recognized a partner that reached a certain status across the different segments. “Now you’re going to have to obtain that segment status for each of the four motions,” Volini said.
Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.
Volini said the upside for partners is that they can better distinguish their capabilities. “A partner could say, ‘I really want to be Elite in Consulting and Implementation, but I’m okay to stay registered in Resell, and I’m going to become a specialist in service provider,’” she said. “It lets partners decide where they want to focus, and it’s easier for our customers and our field to find the partners they need specifically for what they need to get done.”
Within each motion, Volini said ServiceNow would measure partners based on added account contract value (ACV) from new and existing customers. Also, ServiceNow will measure customer success thresholds based on customer satisfaction scores. ServiceNow will also require partners to …
… meet expanded certification thresholds among its implementation personnel.
“We want to make sure that they’re helping our customers get to success and get the transformational value out of the platform,” Volini said. “No matter which motion you’re supporting, those three expectations, to build competency, build capability and deliver customer success, are critical.”
While some partners may bristle at the added certification requirements, Volini believes partners looking to grow based on the platform’s capabilities will benefit. Michael Vadini, CEO of Elite ServiceNow partner InfoCenter, agrees. “From our perspective, you’ve got to have talent, you have to have continuous new solutions, you have to have new talent,” Vadini said. “And really, you have to make sure that we have satisfied customers.”
The program introduces four new financial incentives that Volini said ServiceNow has never offered. Among them is a new partner development fund for marketing; an enhanced deal registration program; rebates and discounts; and a co-funded investment program for unique IP.
Service Now is also introducing a new partner portal and partner aligned with the new partner segments. “We’re giving our partners much more help than they’ve had from us,” Volini said.
But to tap those incentives, ServiceNow is implementing a new fee structure. While ServiceNow has always charged fees to certain partners, now most will have to invest in the program. “We are going to show partners a very simple equation on how just tapping into one of the financial incentives we offer will keep them whole on the fees that they’re going to pay,” Volini said.
ServiceNow defines its current go-to-market with partners as “co-sell and co-deliver.” ServiceNow has created a new partner relationship model, which Volini calls “co-create.” With co-create, “we want to show up with our partners when there’s an opportunity,” she said. “We want to sell that opportunity together and then our partners deliver the majority of our implementations, but we want to partner with them now make it successful.”
Volini planted the seeds for co-create back in September during ServiceNow’s Knowledge 2022 event. At the time, she said, “when I say ‘co-create,’ that means we need to marry the partners’ thought leadership, the partners’ IP, the partner sales motions around transformation alongside the power of our platform to help educate the market on what ServiceNow can do.”
That “power,” Volini said, extends beyond modernizing IT operations to meet CEO McDermott’s aggressive growth goals. ServiceNow is gunning to grow revenues, which was $5.9 billion in 2021, to $16 billion by 2026. To reach that objective, Volini is calling on partners to extend their implementation of the NOW platform “on every business imperative,” ranging from employee and customer experience to industry sectors and subsectors. “We need our partners to create new markets,” she said.
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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