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Acer America Corp. is a computer manufacturer of business and consumer PCs, notebooks, ultrabooks, projectors, servers, and storage products.


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January 17, 2018 |

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.

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.

A new partner portal Riverbed has launched in conjunction with the introduction of Rise is also designed to be easier for partners to navigate. Among other new features, it provides access to monthly account statements and a calculator that partners can use to determine how many dividends they’ll earn on pending deals.

Rise includes the same number of levels as Riverbed’s legacy program, but uses dividend quantities to determine which one partners qualify for. Members will remain at the same level as before through June, at which point they will stay where they are, move up, or move down based on how many dividends they earned during the trailing four quarters. New tier assignments will go into effect on August 1st.

From that point forward, Herndon notes, partners with sufficient dividend totals will be promoted to the next level up at three-month intervals. Riverbed will downgrade Rise members who no longer qualify for their current tier every February.

“They can move up each quarter. They’ll only be potentially moved down once a year,” Herndon notes.

Rise is part of larger commercial account expansion effort that Bisnette was hired to spearhead last year. Riverbed’s sales efforts have long focused on a discrete set of named enterprise and government accounts. The company’s acquisitions of cloud-managed Wi-Fi vendor Xirrus in 2017 and user experience monitoring provider Aternity in 2016, however, have broadened the potential appeal of its portfolio to a wider range of businesses. Bisnette directs a new, partner-led sales funnel targeting a broad set of large, midsize, and small accounts, with a particular emphasis on organizations with 100 to 1,000 employees.

“We have already seen dramatic success with that move,” she says. “We are now adding partner incentives to have them help us and reward them for hunting in this new area.” Bisnette declined to quantify the top-line impact her commercial sales team has had to date.

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