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The fastest growing segment of the storage market involves applications generating massive amounts of unstructured data, so competition in that space is naturally fierce. Quantum Corp. has become the latest storage vendor to implement a sales performance incentive fund (SPIF) designed to reward salespeople that work for a channel partner for selling Quantum storage systems.

The goal behind the Quantum NOW program is to increase the mindshare of Quantum among partners that carry multiple storage solutions from rival vendors, said Andy Brinck, vice president of channel sales for the Americas at Quantum.

“We want to provide sales people with incentives to go hunting for new business,” said Brinck.

SPIF programs tend to be effective because all things being equal, a sales representative will try to push a customer toward the product that generates the most amount of compensation for them, said Mike Ballem, an account executive for reseller Open Storage Solutions.

“Any time I can make a few extra hundred dollars, it’s a good thing,” said Ballem.

SPIFs are controversial in the channel. Some solution providers are more than happy to have vendors provide their salespeople with additional incentives. Others tend to view SPIFs as a form of interference in their internal sales operations. In general, Ballem credits Quantum with providing quality leads to not only tap into an incentive, but also generate sales of additional products and services for Open Storage Solutions.

Given the level of competition across the storage space, SPIFs may be a necessity. The fact of the matter is that while demand for storage systems that can handle massive amounts of data such as video files is soaring, the number of large and small vendors targeting this segment of the storage industry continues to increase. The degree to which the storage sector might one day be subject to consolidation remains to be seen. In the meantime, the difference between making a sale or not for many storage vendors now often comes down to the size of the SPIF being made available.