Unitrends launches ‘gamification’ partner programme

News Christine Horton
Feb 17, 2016

Vendor shuns traditional channel programme for ratings system rather than revenue

Unitrends has launched a new partner programme following a 12-month long effort to improve its channel engagement.

Unitrends president and CEO, Kevin Weiss joined the vendor in January 2015, promising to overhaul the company’s channel engagement. He admitted that the backup and recovery vendor had not been “completely committed to the channel” in the past.

This was followed by an announcement a couple of months later that Unitrends was to put 100 percent of its business through its channel partners. The firm said the move would immediately put millions of dollars into Unitrends’ channel ecosystem.

Weiss had estimated that the new programme would likely roll out towards the end of Q2 2015. The firm however officially launched the programme this week based, it says, on partner feedback.

The programme is designed to allow Unitrends’ partners the freedom to determine the level of involvement that fits their business needs. Every partner gets rewarded for engagement activities, regardless of size and revenue – a contrast to traditional programmes with tiers tied to financial targets, which ultimately favour a limited number of large companies.

The idea of designing channel programmes without revenue requirements is fairly new one, but it slowly being introduced by more vendors. In 2015 security vendor Pulse Secure launched its first partner programme since its spin-off by Juniper Networks where it said it wouldn’t require members to on “costly and time-consuming sales and technical certifications to secure their position in particular levels of the programme.” Instead the vendor asks for joint case studies, and a review of the partner’s competency in sales, engineering and marketing.

Built on the gamification principle, Unitrends its new programme enables partners to access benefits and incentives “without feeling stifled by imposed levels and objectives.” The programme features a five-star rating system, which rewards engagement both at the business and employee levels with points. In addition to traditional measures, like deal registration and closed business, partners can earn points through various sales, marketing and training initiatives that support partner growth, such as completing certification courses, hosting a webinar, running a marketing campaign, or promoting Unitrends via social media. Employees can also accrue points by participating in Unitrends’ existing UniRewards programme.

Points are key to unlocking star rankings, each of which comes with additional rewards and benefits, such as lead referrals and routing, and access to free Unitrends’ product licences for demonstrations and Marketing Development Funds (MDF). The more a Partner engages with Unitrends, the higher it will rank, increasing its visibility with end users and other partners.

“We operate on a pure channel sales model, so establishing lasting, symbiotic relationships with our partners is crucial to growing our business,” says Mike Dalton, Unitrends’ SVP of worldwide channels and international field operations.

“We’ve architected our new partner programme to create a unique and personalised experience for each and every partner that acknowledges their individual value and the role they play as a Unitrends’ evangelist. Our dedicated support, customised training and enablement tools, and industry-leading solutions make it easy for partners to maximise their growth in a way that best accommodates their business.”

Unitrends has also launched a new partner portal offering marketing- and sales-focused tools and materials, technical training and certifications, and support resources customised by partner persona, company size and level of engagement. The portal also connects partners with Unitrends’ sales and support communities.

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