Okta has simplified its training and accreditation process to make it easier for solution providers to get both sales and technical certifications.
Patrick McCue, senior vice president of worldwide partnerships at the San Francisco-based identity provider, said revisions to the Okta Partner Connect program will reduce the cost of technical training from between US$2,500 and US$4,000 per course to free for Premier and Elite partners. Okta’s Select and Associate partners will now have access to all training courses for US$1,500 per student, he said.
“By getting more people trained, more people accredited and more people certified, we will have more success in the field, which will allow us to scale quicker,” McCue told CRN exclusively.
Roughly 25 percent of Okta’s 2,000 partners globally are at the higher Premier and Elite tiers, McCue said, while the remaining 75 percent are at the lower Select and Associate tiers. Through its new initiatives, McCue said Okta expects to double the number of accredited solution provider personnel and increase the number of certified technicians by two-and-a-half-fold.
Okta’s training has evolved from a one-size-fits-all program that took between eight and 12 hours to complete to three separate tracks based on a person’s role in the solution provider organization, McCue said. The fundamentals track is intended for executives and sales managers, provides a high-level overview of Okta’s products and role in the marketplace, and takes less than two hours to complete.
The applied track is intended for salespeople and covers how to position Okta products with customers and overcome common objections, details typical use cases, and takes four hours to complete, McCue said. And the proficient track is intended for solutions engineers, covers how to order, set up, build out and demo the company’s products, and can be completed in six hours, according to McCue.
The company wants to get partners more involved in the sales cycle and implementation process itself in 2020, according to McCue. Okta has done a good job of having partners source leads, but McCue said the company’s account executives tended to be heavily involved in the sales cycle itself.
As solution providers hone their skills, McCue said they will be better positioned to control the sales cycle and scope and conduct the implementation themselves with Okta personnel assisting below them. This will be a far cry from partners going into accounts in a more advisory role while Okta personnel provided more of the expertise, according to McCue.
Under Okta’s updated partner program, McCue said solution providers are eligible for discounts of up to 55 percent, with activities such a conducting a demo unlocking an additional 5 percent discount.
On the implementation side, McCue said Okta historically scoped and ran projects on its own with partners subbing in resources. But now the tables have turned, and McCue said solution providers can take on more of the implementation process up to and including running the implementation entirely on their own without any Okta services at all.
As solution providers take on more of the selling, negotiating, pricing and implementing on their own, McCue said Okta’s account executives will be freed up to support more deals in a given time period. Solution providers are involved in 60 percent of Okta’s annual bookings today, and McCue anticipates that the channel community will play an even greater role in Okta’s go-to-market in the future.
“Our big focus is really getting partners to take on a lot of the work both in the sales cycle as well as the implementation itself,” McCue said. “So getting this training to them is going to be something that's just very important for us.”