Citrix has begun encouraging its resellers to register details about potential sales in advance, in an initiative it claims will circumvent drive-by shootings and help keep margins up.
Ross Brown, vice-president of worldwide sales at Citrix, said the US-based software vendor had started an initiative called Advisor Rewards. Resellers would be asked to register information about potential sales in advance to earn certain rewards.
"Purchasing agents sometimes can get clever and call 20 other partners to see who will offer the best price. This is bad for partners but also for us as a vendor," he said.
Brown said partners who swooped in to steal deals from others that had maybe worked on the sale for some time would not know as much about that potential sale. To earn better margins, resellers would be encouraged to provide details about that potential customer in advance.
"The other requirement is it has to be done at least 45 days in advance of the close of the sale," he said. "Forty-five days is a natural cut-off point. [Sales] never happen faster than 45 days. But if you're responding to questions from a customer, it always happens faster than 45 days."
That would help prove the validity of their claim as the one who had done most of the work in getting that sale, Brown said, and would also encourage resellers to be more proactive.
Citrix wanted its resellers to be "trusted solution advisors" rather than box-movers, he said, and margins would in some cases double or even treble what was usual in some cases.
"Once we've evaluated it, and talked to the customer, and it is a real deal ... the partner will get the lion's share of the margin," Brown said.
Brown said the details asked for would not violate anyone's privacy. Nor would they be used for anything else, such as going direct and taking the business from resellers altogether.
"We rolled this out in North America and Europe already and ... shrinkwrapped product was not contained in the program. So there was no reason for partners to submit data but we had resellers submit large volumes of data," he said.
That proved partners did not feel that the data-gathering had encroached on their turf in any way. Citrix did very little direct selling worldwide, Brown said.
"We rely on the channel. This is about helping them to close business," Brown said.
Citrix sales had been strong since it formally announced its new partner program, access Partner Network, in May. That had divided all Citrix partners into silver, gold and platinum solution adviser, system integrator, distributor and alliance partner categories.
Sales had been strong since then, he maintained, but Citrix was moving to anticipate problems from ongoing margin shrinkage in the channel.
"This is a [global] problem when you have a downturn in IT spending. It's like musical chairs when the music stops," Brown said.
Citrix also launched an initiative called Easy Licence, which would enable software codes to be delivered and thus activated more quickly for the customer.
Also, product step-up campaigns - such as for MetaFrame -- would include a 10 percent bonus.
Citrix culled 20 percent of its 200 Australia-based partners from its access Partner program early this year.
Michael McGrath, channel manager at Citrix Australia, said then that the culled resellers had not been earning Citrix the revenue that it required. Some 95 percent of its sales are via indirect channels, he said.