Corel Corp. has announced a new channel program to help it boost its sales and presence in the marketplace.

The VAR Incentive Program, which will run to Nov. 30, aims to reward loyal channel partners and recruit new ones by offering rebates of up to 10 per cent on products including the

recently launched CorelDraw Graphics Suite 12 and WordPerfect Office 12.

“”We hope that the VAR community will be excited about the program,”” said Gisele Sanchez, the company’s director of channel sales. “”It’s really showing our commitment to the channel.””

Several hundred VARs across Canada, including large account resellers, direct mailers and smaller VARs with an SMB focus, are involved. Now a privately-held U.S. company, Corel declined to attach numbers to sales or partner growth.

“”We’re definitely looking to see an increase in sales,”” said Sanchez. “”That’s one of the objectives of the program. The other objective is to reward our current VARs that have been loyal to us and to encourage some new VARs to join our program.””

To earn the discount, VARs net purchases can only be made through participating distributors, including Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex and D&H. Partners who wish to participate in the program must register to receive rebates of up to seven per cent on net purchases. Partners registering before the end of the month will receive an additional three per cent rebate on purchases made from now until the end of August. Once the program has finished, all rebates will be calculated and distributed to resellers.

The program is part of Corel’s marketing strategy to strengthen its relationships with value-added resellers and the channel community. This week’s announcement is a follow up to Corel’s increased participation in the annual VAR programs of Ingram Micro and Tech Data, which was announced in March. By expanding its relationship with the distributors, Corel hopes to provide its resellers with current information on its product launches, marketing campaigns and promotions.

“”We’ve shown some specific commitment with that segment of the channel with some of the programs that we’re running through distribution that are VAR focused that we implemented earlier this year,””said Sanchez. “”This is the next step where we are incenting VARs to sell our product.””

“”It’s kind of a work in progress in terms of the steps we’re taking. This is more of a sales focus for us.””

Long-time Corel partner Nitro Microsystems Inc. is excited about the possibilities of the incentive program. Company CEO Larry Poirier says Corel’s aggressive marketing to SMB, legal, educational and government sectors is good for his business, which provides Corel software to the Canadian Bar Association.

“”It’s a hefty margin in addition to what we already get,”” said Poirier. “”It’s a great program. We believe WordPerfect has a home in SMB, legal, educational, government markets.”” Half of Nitro Microsystems software sales come from the SMB with the remaining percentage from government and legal.

New Berlin, Wis.-based VAR Software One Inc., which sells Corel’s volume licensing programs and entire product line, plans to join the program sometime next week.

“”It’s great to see Corel is aggressively pursuing more market share now. It’s a really great incentive for the resellers,”” said Daniel Lenz, product manager at Software One.

Lenz says Corel can learn from other software vendor’s mistakes when trying to market its product.

“”A few years ago Novell had more market share in servers than Microsoft did. They did a very poor job in countering the Microsoft initiative,”” Lenz said. “”Corel is lean right now but they also have to be mean. They have to let people know there are alternatives to other manufacturers.””

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