November 30, 2018
During this past spring’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Lisa McLin, Rackspace’s channel sales and alliances vice president for North America, said the new program has “partners’ fingerprints” all over it. It was designed to provide partners with better visibility and access into Rackspace’s portfolio of managed IT services across private and public clouds, application services, managed hosting, colocation and managed security.
Rackspace selected 40-50 partners that “we decided had the same value that Rackspace had and we were going to be able to add value to those partners,” McLin said.
Rackspace’s Lisa McLin
“So we created a tiering program with Tier 1 and Tier 2 partners with a global mission to create a Fanatical partner program that helped customers with digital transformation into mid-market and enterprise customers,” she said. “So that’s really been the focus through that, and the underlining changes were all around enablement, tools and systems, and ways to enhance our partners’ experience and then ultimately generating net new growth for partners and Rackspace.”
Its partner community includes master agents/VARs and indirect partners with mid-market and enterprise experience “that maybe traditionally weren’t selling cloud, but now they’re ready for that,” McLin said. It also partners with SIs, ISVs, and colocation providers, and has programs for government partners and private equity partners.
“We’ve seen the increase that we wanted to see, so it’s validated that the strategy that we selected works and now we’re just making tweaks to make sure we can scale this and we can continue to evolve in advance,” she said. “One way of making sure you’re competitive is making sure that you’re always thinking about the next big thing and how you continue to serve partners in a Fanatical way.”
The partner portal has been redesigned and it’s “laid out in such a way that helps the partner understand how do I easily put a go-to-market play together with my partner account manager and my team to go out there and win more cloud business,” McLin said.
Rackspace has added Youtube videos around specific products and solutions so partners can watch a two-minute video versus a 45-minute session to get the basics that they need to understand and then can pull in the Rackspace sales team to help them go deeper, she said.
“We also have a partner help desk to serve all partners that don’t fall into that Tier 1 and Tier 2 bucket so they’re still getting an automated service through the help desk,” McLin said. “In addition, a monthly partner newsletter is allowing partners to understand and communicate all the things that have changed, and then the new things that are being added. So that portal is really the gateway to all things new for Rackspace and we continue to provide updates on the latest videos and content, and reports.”
Also, quarterly “open book” sessions allow partners to connect with Rackspace’s executive team and/or product leaders to discuss the company’s strategy, she said.
In addition, Rackspace is working with a few of its partners to pilot the concept of partners selling professional services with the company, McLin said.
“We’re seeing some good trends early on to really determine that in 2019 we feel strongly that going to market with partners we can get more professional services out there,” she said.
In the first quarter, Rackspace will be rolling out …
… frictionless ordering and its all-cloud guide app for partners, McLin said.
“Today, if you’re a partner you work with our sales team to get a proposal and contract out, and through frictionless ordering, partners will have access to do the quoting and contracting on their own should they choose,” she said. “And all-cloud is an app or web interface that allows them to walk their customers through a series of questions that determine what is the best fit platform, and then takes it to the next conversation, which is how do we start working together to put a final, customized solution for that customer. That’s really the game changer and something that’s going to help Rackspace and its partners work closer together to sell cloud to their customers.”
The next phase for the partner portal will be gamifying it so partners can collect points while viewing content and watching videos, and those points can be turned in for swag, either for them or for their customers, McLin said.
“Through our partner portal, we also have it customized in such a way that if you’re a partner, you can log in and you get to see your progress ranked among other partners in the channel,” she said. “Obviously you don’t get to see who, but if you’re in one ecosystem, you’re compared to other partners in that ecosystem. And the feedback that I’ve been getting is they love understanding where they stand and that allows us to have conversations around what’s missing.”
Leads, pipeline size, bookings and revenue all have increased with the partner program changes, McLin said.
“This year was laying the foundation and 2019 is actually building on it, and watching the scale and revenue, and the efficiencies come for the partner and for Rackspace,” she said. “Partners are getting comfortable selling cloud so their businesses are growing, their customers are getting stickier because they’re buying cloud through their partner, and in return Rackspace is growing.”
“A few years back, I had the opportunity to attend the first Rackspace Partner Advisory Council,” said Bryce Hayes, Telarus’ senior vice president of operations. “We spent two days talking and brainstorming about the experience customers and partner sought to have in the channel and what Rackspace needed to do to be among the very best suppliers. The Rackspace team took detailed notes. Over the past few years, I have watched the Rackspace team thoughtfully and methodically review those suggestions and evolve their program to meet the standards their partners asked for.”
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