IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Riverbed Launches All New Partner Program

Called Riverbed Rise, it replaces a competency-based model requiring steep upfront skills investments with performance-based rewards for landing new accounts and selling more solutions to existing customers, among other accomplishments. By Rich Freeman

Application performance optimization vendor Riverbed Technology Inc. has overhauled its partner program in a bid to accommodate online, subscription-based business models and reward resellers for contributing to an ongoing commercial account sales drive.

Named Riverbed Rise, the new program does away with the competencies that have historically played a significant role in determining which tier members qualify for and what benefits they receive. Created at a time when San Francisco-based Riverbed chiefly sold load balancing and WAN optimization hardware, that older structure forced partners that sell cloud-based Riverbed solutions, or host those systems themselves in third-party databases, to acquire infrastructure management skills they don’t need to have.

“We just believed that’s no longer relevant to today and where we’re headed in the future,” says Bridget Bisnette, Riverbed’s vice president of global channels and commercial sales.

Rise, she continues, is a performance-based rather than competency-based program that compensates members based on specific, concrete accomplishments.

“We want to be able to reward our partners for what they do from a business development standpoint and an offer development standpoint, not based on the trainings that they do,” Bisnette says.

Enrollees in Rise earn “dividends” every time they sign a new account, increase penetration within an existing account, attend a training course, qualify for a new certification, and more. Awarded quarterly, dividends are worth $100 each.

“The more business they bring, the more capabilities they have, the more they’re going to earn,” says Cindy Herndon, Riverbed’s vice president of global channel programs and operations.

Partners can exchange dividends for cash rebates, apply them toward training fees, or use them for market development purposes.

“They choose how they want to use them,” Herndon says. “It’s a very flexible program.”

Unlike Riverbed’s legacy partner program, she notes, Rise doesn’t favor partners who sell hardware and perpetual licenses over partners selling cloud-based software on an as-a-service basis.

“We wanted to make sure that regardless of how the solution is being delivered, the partner is going to earn in the program,” she says.

The new program is also a good deal for newcomers to Riverbed’s channel, Herndon argues, because it doesn’t require them to make steep upfront investments in competencies and certifications before collecting benefits.

“The quarter after a partner joins Riverbed, they’ll start getting benefits,” she says.

According to Bisnette, Rise members can expect to collect two to four times as much in benefits as they received under Riverbed’s earlier partner program.

“This is all incremental investment that our re-sellers have never seen before,” she says.

Rise is designed to be simpler to understand and navigate than its predecessor as well. “We’re going from a program that took about 35 slides to explain to a program that takes five,” Bisnette states.

In particular, the new program has a less complex, tier-based discount model that no longer factors in a confusing range of additional variables.

“If you make the top level, you’re going to get the best discount across all the product sets,” Herndon says.

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