Looking to get more bang for the buck out of its channel partners, Salesforce has revamped it channel program in a way that provides more incentives to partners that sell multiple software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications.
While Salesforce plans to increase the total number of partners in its program, the more efficient approach to meeting the demands of customers that are starting to implement multiple Salesforce cloud services is to increase the number of partners that are certified on multiple Salesforce services, said Neeracha Taychakhoonavudh, senior vice president for partner programs at Salesforce. “Customers are a lot more interested in 360-degree solutions,” she added.
To complement those changes, Salesforce is also making it possible for consultants to be certified across both products and vertical industry specializations.
While the rise of SaaS applications has changed many aspects of how software is consumed, vendors are still experiencing many of the same channel issues, mainly in the form of getting partners to increase the number of products and services attached to any given deal.
“In a lot of ways, the more things change, the more they stay the same,” said Jeff Kaplan, managing director for THINKstrategies, a consulting firm specializing in cloud computing. “In the case of Salesforce, they are trying to build on CRM [customer relationship management] and service clouds.”
In general, Taychakhoonavudh said, Salesforce prefers to be jointly engaged with partners in the United States, while relying more on partners in other markets to sell its offerings on their own. She said that the bifurcated approach reflects how Salesforce has invested its own resources over time.
Like many SaaS application providers, Salesforce decidedly favored direct sales early in its history. But as cloud computing has matured, vendors such as Salesforce have come to rely more on channel partners to not only acquire new customers, but also to get existing customers to renew licenses.
The challenge channel partners now face is finding ways to add value via high-margin services that complement low-margin cloud services that are often used to expand the total base of customers in need of customization and integration expertise.