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3Com beefs up partner program

Promises resellers greater access to rebates in exchange for upgrading certifications

3Com Corp. is overhauling its Focus Partner Program, pushing its resellers to increase their staff commitment to the company and to specialize by promising increased access to rebates and market development funds.

The changes make the program “more scalable and more profitable for partners,” said Joe Vukxon, 3Com’s corporate communications manager.

“One of the things are program was missing was the opportunity to align technology specializations with our expanding product portfolio,” he said, “giving partners the opportunity to specialize in their areas of expertise while still getting the benefits of being a gold or silver partner.”

While the three level (gold, silver and bronze partner) program remains, it will add a points-based specialization system. Partners will accumulate points for technology specializations, service delivery authorization or service reseller authorization as well as for revenue generated.

The more points chalked up the greater the opportunity to be eligible for product rebates and market development funds.

Specialization categories have been created within four technology areas (security, IP telephony, enterprise LAN and enterprise wireless infrastructure). Within each specialization partners can qualify to have either authorized or elite status. Elite partners have the highest technical and sales requirements.

For example, an IP Telephony Elite partner has to have four 3Com-certified engineers and four certified salespersons on staff.

The current program will continue for the next six months to give partners time to be certified under the new system.

Generally, the new program helps partners earn rebates on their certifications, rather than on the product sold. That alone, Vukxon said, should help partners earn more money. He made it clear that 3Com hasn’t necessarily changed the percentage of rebate on all products.

But the new program has changed some of the rules. Under the existing program, for example, a partner who sold LAN switching can only get a rebate from selling 3Com’s 8800 switches. Rebates aren’t offered on any other switches. However, under the new program a LAN Elite partner could get rebates on all 3Com switches.

In addition to the structural changes, 3Com will also enhance the partner dashboard to let VARs see their level status.