CA Lays Down Rules Of Engagement For VARs

By Jerry Rosa Islandia, N.Y. 4:31 PM EST Fri., Apr. 16, 1999 --

Channel Changes:

  • Dedicated channel sales staff will be compensated for working with reseller partners.
  • Keeps 30,000 direct accounts; others such as small and midsize businesses and ISPs fall into channel account category.
  • Restructures regional sales divisions to 30 locations from 20.
  • Beefs up internal VAR coverage with about 90 vice presidents and 360 marketing specialists dedicated to channel accounts.
  • Sets up database profile system of VARs and capabilities so its direct sales force knows which VARs to engage.
  • Platinum deal should create more opportunity for channel.

Play ball!

That is the call Computer Associates International Inc. is making for its channel as it rolls out solid rules of engagement between its direct-sales reps, internal channel sales reps and reseller partners.

CA's new initiative was unveiled internally last week at the company's worldwide sales conference and is part of a campaign by the Islandia-based vendor to hone channel efforts for its 10,000 channel partners worldwide, including 4,800 U.S.-based partners.

The changes were driven by CA's VARs, who told the company it needed to outline which accounts CA is selling into directly and which accounts are channel-only, said Marc Sokol, senior vice president and general manager of global marketing at CA.

"Most recently we had a meeting with the VAR council, and one of the things they said to us was they had no problem of knowing where they are and where they are not going to compete," Sokol said. "The clear message was to give them rules of engagement."

As a result, CA has divided its business into 30,000 direct or named accounts, which are primarily customers with mainframe needs, and Emerald accounts, which are channel accounts, Sokol said. CA will not target any customer outside of these named accounts, however, VARs are free to go in and compete against CA for that business, Sokol said.

The named accounts are customers where CA already sells mainframe software or other enterprise software, Sokol said. These names will be given to VAR partners this week, he said.

"I really consider this big," said Rick Hamada, executive vice president of Avnet Computer, Tempe, Ariz. "As a reseller we have investment choices to make and what we look for is predictability from our partners. It should be clear what the direct domain and the channel domain will be," he said.

"We were really working with CA to get them to do what they have done. This draws the lines so clearly," said Joe Sexton, executive vice president of sale at Integrated Concepts Inc., Dallas.

As a result, CA restructured its sales force into 30 divisions nationwide and put in place dedicated channel sales reps in each region who will go through traditional CA sales training but will be compensated for the channel sales, said Gayle Kemper, senior vice president and general manager of worldwide channel sales at CA. A total of about 90 vice presidents and 360 marketing specialists will be dedicated to channel accounts, one VAR said.

"The regional sales force [as a group] will sell direct. They can also sell into a channel account, but that sale has to be fulfilled by the channel partner," Kemper said.

"I'm pretty excited about the change," said Steve Pazol, principal at Professional Consulting Services Inc., Chicago. "It will hopefully remove some of the confusion and potential channel conflict."

In addition, the entire small- and midsize- business market and a large percentage of ISPs will fall in the channel account category, Sokol said. "All the other accounts that are not on the [named account list] are channel accounts," he said, adding that about 33 percent of CA's current revenue comes from the channel.

CA also is working on setting up a database system so its sales force knows the capabilities of CA partners, Sokol said. Plus, CA's proposed acquisition of Platinum Technology Corp. will offer VARs additional products to sell and service.