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Cohesity, Pivot3 update channel partner programs, MDF funds

Cohesity and Pivot3 are revamping established channel partner programs, emphasizing ease-of-doing-business, expanded financial incentives and MDF funds.

Cohesity and Pivot3 today launched updated channel partner programs, focusing on greater simplicity, financial incentives and market development funds.

The infrastructure vendors are retooling established channel initiatives to accommodate evolving partner ecosystems and the growing demand for strategic business management versus traditional channel account management. The new channel landscape has influenced changes in other vendors' programs as well.

Cohesity puts partners under one umbrella

Cohesity, a data management company based in San Jose, Calif., originally launched its partner program in early 2016. Program revisions aim to sweeten financial incentives, make market development funds (MDF) easier for partners to manage and unify multiple partner categories.

Bill Lipsin, vice president of global channels at Cohesity, said the updated partner effort pulls together programs for service providers, resellers and technology alliance partners. Lipsin, who has previous channel experience at NetApp, Brocade and CA Technologies, joined Cohesity in late October.

Bill Lipsin, vice president of global channels at CohesityBill Lipsin

Putting all of its partner programs under one umbrella "gives us a broader market reach," he noted. "We can give the customers an option to buy the way they want to."

The approach also provides partnering opportunities among partner types. For example, partnerships with Cisco and Hewlett Packard Enterprise lets channel partners and their customers use the vendors' servers to run Cohesity software. Cisco and HPE are Cohesity investors.

Lipsin said the arrangement lets channel partners "double dip" with respect to the vendors' channel programs. If a partner books a Cohesity software sale through Cisco or HPE, Cohesity recognizes that transaction in its channel program, Lipsin said. And that partner also gets credit from the hardware vendor.

Pivot3 builds three-tier foundation

Nicole Cardenas, director of channel marketing at Pivot3Nicole Cardenas

Pivot3, a hyper-converged infrastructure vendor based in Austin, Texas, sought advice from its top partners in its bid to make the program easier for channel companies to use. "They want things to be flexible and simple," said Nicole Cardenas, director of channel marketing at Pivot3. Cardenas is a recent Pivot3 hire, having previously worked for Arrow Electronics and SHI International.

The revamped program is built on a foundation of "clearly defined tiers," she said. Expanded training, which includes online certifications, on-site workshops and specialized training for professional services personnel, aims to help partners move from tier to tier. The Pivot3 program consists of an entry-level Authorized tier, an intermediate Select tier and a top Premier tier.

[Partners] want things to be flexible and simple.
Nicole CardenasDirector of channel marketing, Pivot3

Pivot3 has also boosted its financial incentives for partners, increasing margins for partners that register deals. The company reported a quarter-over-quarter 17% increase in partner-led deal registration and an associated 20% increase in total revenue growth among partners since revamping that portion of its channel program. The deal registration changes went into effect in the third quarter.

Pivot3 has also revised lead generation, which was formerly handled in-house. The company now distributes leads to Select and Premier partners "so they can generate some early wins," Cardenas said. The lead generation program also provides knowledge transfer, she added, noting that Pivot3 will work with partners through a sales cycle with a customer.

Sweetening incentives

Cohesity also launched three tiers with its channel program update: an entry-level Associate tier and upper-level Preferred and Premier tiers. The program includes an updated sales performance incentive fund (SPIF) that offers partners $5,000 to $50,000 for capturing net new customers, according to Lipsin.

The SPIF dollars are not just for new customers, however. Lipsin said partners that sell new Cohesity use cases to existing clients can also obtain additional funds. A partner's customer, for example, may typically begin with data protection and cloud integration as its first Cohesity use case, but latter expand to additional use cases such as test/dev and disaster recovery, he said.

Lipsin said Cohesity provides "a whole list of additional use cases with associated playbooks to help our partners understand the landscape."

MDF makeover

The Cohesity and Pivot3 channel partner programs have both retooled MDF, a common channel program element that provides funding for partners' marketing activities such as tradeshow booths and webinars.

Cohesity's new MDF program includes a SaaS tool that Lipsin said helps partners plan, track and claim funds more quickly. Increased MDF funds for all of Cohesity's geographic regions will "help partners tap into their current installed base or start doing some hunting for new accounts as well," he noted.

Pivot3's MDF changes include making the funding "proposal based," according to Cardenas. MDF funds in the past were allotted to partner's individual marketing events, but there was no overarching plan for doing so. The revised MDF initiative calls for Pivot3 and partner personnel to develop a joint business plan to guide the allocation of MDF.

The process puts "more of a strategy behind our MDF," Cardenas said.

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