StorageTek Canada offers partners Total package

The Canadian subsidiary of Storage Technology Corp. has launched its first tiered channel program that requires partners to be certified in sales and technical training within the next nine months. Last week’s announcement comes a few months after StorageTek Canada de-authorized one-third of its partners.

StorageTek now has 40 partners in Canada.

The Total Channel Program, which replaced the Envoy program, offers VARs training, pre-sales support, product seminars, marketing materials, qualified lead programs. TCP is divided into two tiers – Alliance Resellers and Premier Resellers – to reward top VARs for their training levels, formal certification and product sales. Enhancements to TCP were announced in the U.S. in March 2003.

Michael Mercer, country director of Canadian channels, said the Envoy program, which was approaching five years old, was in need of a change.

“”Our business was spread too thin across too many VARs,”” he said. “”We were not critical to our partners’ business nor were they to ours. It was time to have justification within our channel. We’re looking to build channel partnerships with the right VARs.””

The Louisville, Colo.-based company is looking to grow its indirect channel sales from approximately 40 per cent to 60 per cent of its total revenue worldwide, Ian Stewart, manager of distribution technology at StorageTek, said in a recent interview with CDN at this year’s GE Access New Frontiers conference. Mercer declined to specify if these numbers apply here.

In a general session at the conference last week Mark Ward, company vice-president of sales and service for U.S. and Canada, told resellers how StorageTek is “”embracing the channel.””

“”In the past we’ve not been the easiest company to deal with,”” said Ward. “”My objective is to get simple selling tools into your hands so you can go and sell to customers.

“”We’re committed to identifying customers and looking at how we can be easier to deal with. We need you to tell us where we’re broken.””

Leading the channel renewal here is recently appointed president and general manager Brent Rebus, who hails from a channel background as former Cisco Canada vice-president.

Mercer said in the past it was “”too easy”” for resellers to sign up.

“”With our old Envoy program there wasn’t a certification,”” said Mercer. “”It was based on revenue qualification or criteria that weren’t with the marketplace. There was no perceived value. Anybody could sign up to be a partner and that doesn’t do anything for our VARs that we want to continue to partner with and our end user customers.””

Premier and Alliance resellers are now required to have certification in tape, disk and SAN sales and technical training, quarterly update training and PowerTrack Web seminars. Premier partners are also required to participate in semiannual business reviews with StorageTek representatives.

While the sales training is free of charge, resellers must pay for technical training.

Partners are required to sell a minimum of $250,000 in net annual revenue of StorageTek hardware, software and media at the Alliance level and minimum $1 million at the Premier level. Net annual revenue is taken from the distributor. (StorageTek distributes its products through Bell Micro and Avnet-Hallmark here.)

If the reseller meets the financial prerequisite for a specific tier but does not meet the training, they will be placed in the lower tier for which they have attained the training certification requirement.

Benefits for partners include: distributors pass through one per cent for use as Co-op marketing funds, discount demo products, two per cent rebate for Premier resellers and one per cent rebate for Alliance resellers on StorageTek products.

TCP also rewards partners for selling StorageTek installation and maintenance services. Resellers can receive from 10 per cent to 20 per cent discounts from list price depending on how much service they sell. For example VARs who sell between $0 and $149,000 will earn a 10 per cent margin.

Irene Dawe, regional director Western Canada at Charon Systems Inc., said StorageTek understands the difference between a vendor-supplier relationship versus a partner relationship.

“”StorageTek is trying to find those relationships where it’s mutually beneficial for both parties,”” said Dawe. “”It allows organizations to start developing an overall strategy for growth.””

Headquartered in Toronto, Charon Systems provides hosted application services, managed services and full enterprise resource services. Dawe said she likes StorageTek’s approach to Information Lifecycle Management (ILM).

“”We’re very much aligned in how we look at our customers,”” said Dawe. “”We want to make sure we look at the business requirements first. The business needs to be able to succeed and grow, ensure that the technology is going to fulfil the business requirements.

“”StorageTek has said we’re looking for storage vendors that can basically adopt our fundamental philosophies and engage with the corporate community. That speaks well of the direction that StorageTek is taking.””

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