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By Gina Roos

Software company independenceIT (iIT) has launched a sales and marketing training program to help channel partners price, position and sell its suite of business cloud services, including the Cloud Workspace. All channel partners that join the iIT Partner Program are automatically enrolled in the iIT University (iIT U) training program.

Providing private-label desktop cloud solutions, iIT uses a channel-only sales model to resell its suite of cloud software offerings. Value-added resellers (VARs), managed service providers (MSPs) and Internet service providers (ISPs) can join iIT’s partner program as Preferred, Elite or Platinum partners.

The company decided the best way to scale the organization was to allow partners to leverage the software, bundle it into an as-a-service model, and allow them to resell it to their customers and prospects—as opposed to selling direct, said Jim Lippie, iIT executive vice president of business development.

To help partners sell its cloud services more effectively, iIT developed the iIT University, which includes technical/sales, consulting and marketing training components. The program focuses on helping partners drive higher revenue by helping them identify customers and new markets, while educating them on the broader application of cloud services and creating a customized go-to marketing strategy.

Previously, channel partners were given a crash course in how to use the software and deal with tier-one issues, said Lippie. The iIT University is a “much more comprehensive methodology that benefits partners in a number of ways,” he said.

The first component consists of personalized Cloud Workspace Certified training sessions that focus on the technical aspects of cloud computing and specific needs of each channel partner’s sales, support, administrative, technology and project management staff. iIT U helps with on-boarding, provisioning, troubleshooting and other end-user issues.

“We certify partners on how to sell, price and position it [cloud services] with their customers, and from a technical standpoint, we certify their technicians who are responsible for communicating with the customer and taking care of tier-one issues,” Lippie explained. Certification is mandatory for all partners, he added.

The second component is Strategic Consulting, in which a partner’s executives receive customized strategic consulting to help determine how cloud services fit into their portfolios and to create new income opportunities. “We identify the best places for them to target within their existing customer base and prospects,” said Lippie. “We conduct a workshop to understand their business and how we can improve their business and add recurring revenue and more profit dollars.”

The third component is a marketing suite, Brandable Marketing Material, which provides customizable marketing and sales collateral. It includes case studies, brochures and service- level agreements that can be branded by partners to help them sell cloud services.

“One of the areas of weakness for service providers is marketing because they don’t have the resources they need to spend on marketing to their existing customer and prospect base,” said Lippie. “They’re able to leverage these marketing assets and not have to spend a lot of their own money to create them. It’s a huge win for them.”

Gina Roos, a Channel Insider contributing writer, specializes in technology and the channel.