NB – This post should be treated as opinion and no decisions should be made off its content
Now we’ve covered the PVS and how it’s scored in my previous post, Salesforce Ecosystem: The Partner Scoring System, lets talk about partner tiering. The idea with creating the PVS is so that it’s clear what targets a partner needs to achieve, to be able to attain a higher level of partnership.
Starting the from the lowest level and working up, I will give a brief description of each level of partnership and how this can effect your position in the ecosystem.
These are where most small, niche or boutique Salesforce Consultancies or ‘one-man bands’ start. The requirements here are that the the individual(s) have the Sales and Service Cloud certifications and pay a registration fee. Typically these guys will solely work on the ‘kickstarts’ of the world whereby Salesforce can be implemented very quickly with great agility for small businesses who need a basic configuration of Salesforce to get them underway and start transforming their business.
Registered partners get to ‘graduate’ to Silver level partnership when they have achieved the target number of points. Typically what you might see here is a registered partner scale up from 1 or 2 people to around 10 and above having experienced growth on the back of some great implementations for customers in the SMB market. Typically consultancies here will deal primarily with the SMB and ESB markets (Emerging Small Businesses), but may have plays in other markets.
These are typically mid-sized consultancies which have scaled and matured enough over a certain time period to allow them to work on larger projects with more license fees, which create more ACV for Salesforce. Consultancies here can still be fairly niche and agile in their approach which makes them attractive for ESB, CBU and mid-market customers.
Platinum partners are the players that are starting to really become the big fish in a small pond. These partners can still be pretty agile in their operations, they may be multi-locational, but generally they will deliver slickly on larger mid-market to enterprise level, although they may also have their fingers in other pies. Around this tier (along with good Silver and Gold partners) we observe a lot of consolidation in the market from the global strategic partners. This is generally because Platinum (and some Gold/Silver) partners have a fairly large number of highly skilled staff and a good operational structure which has allowed them to scale. This might typically provide them with a reputation in the market that gets the attention of the fat cats, who are desperate to fill the skills gap to help them address the rapidly expanding Salesforce market.
Global Strategic Partner
These are the big boys, the fat cats, the great market consolidators of the world. Think Accenture, Deloitte or IBM (formerly Bluewolf). These guys generally don’t look at any implementations that are less than 7 figures or service large enterprise customers. These are where the really large complex business transformational projects happen for 000’s of Salesforce licenses. To become a global strategic partner requires approval from the head honcho’s at Salesforce themselves and you need to exceed Platinum level in a number of key Salesforce markets first.
Next Level, Masters and Specialisations
So you may be thinking by now that this whole PVS thing is a bit of a beast; and you’d be right. Put yourselves in the shoes of a Salesforce Account Executive for one minute; of the plethora of different partners in each tier, how do you try to optimally align the right partner with the right customer to ensure a great project delivery? Well, recently Salesforce launched ‘Next Level’ to do just that.
How does it work?
The idea is simple. Salesforce have created a system to use internally which allows them to query the partner database on a number of different search ‘tags’ to help them try and find the most suitable partner for their potential customers, based on the success of previous project implementations. Each tag is a ‘Specialisation’ in an area for a specific cloud or industry vertical and when partners have achieved the requirements for each specialisation, they become tagged in the system under that specialisation and can be found in the system when searched using that query. Partners that meet the requirements for multiple specialisations and reach the requirements for a Master in a Cloud or Industry become ‘Masters’ and will always be displayed above other partners in the search as a reward for exceptional practice.
I’m only going to touch on this lightly as this is most definitely a blog post in itself. However, the consequences of this change are quite profound and have a significant impact on the partner ecosystem. That aside, the long and short of it is, this is for the benefit of everyone; Salesforce, the partner and most importantly, the customer. Why? Well, better partner alignment means better project delivery that leads to higher customer satisfaction, which leads to an expansion of the Salesforce ecosystem and a warm fuzzy feeling for everyone in it.
Exhausted? I know I am; there’s definitely a lot to wrap your head around. Those that know the partner ecosystem well and how it operates will see that I’ve left out quite a bit of low-level detail (particularly around points). There are also things like industry and Cloud verticalisation which I haven’t touched upon either, but this post was written to give an overall picture of PVS for beginners.