Early this year Kaspersky came out strong in its channel strategy, with new and revamped programs as well as investments in marketing, incentives and channel resources.
CDN sat down with John Murdock, vice president of channel sales and Jon Whitlock, vice president of B2B marketing at Kaspersky Lab North America to discuss the company’s progress and what’s coming down the line.
CDN Now: How far along are you in increasing channel investment with partners for this year and next?
John Murdock: We’re pretty far along. We started the year off in investing in areas to drive our partners’ business, and we continue to add additional programs and resources for them to take advantage of.
Jon Whitlock: Specifically, we’ve added some additional people from a partner management perspective. We’ve increased our budgets around true-partner marketing and enablement activities. We also launched a new incentive and loyalty program, that are already in play, and we have some other incentives now that we’re running through an updated training and onboarding program for partners.
We’ve always planned the new framework to be a rolling program that builds over the next 12 months. We also have a couple new programs coming out later this year, as well as some that are planned for early next year. We continually look into improving the program.
CDN Now: Back in March you announced that solution providers would have the potential to earn 50 points of margin. Has this strategy proved effective for recruiting new partners?
Murdock: It has. Every partner that we speak with is thrilled with the margin opportunity they have with Kaspersky. Not just around the margins they make with the product, but also the services they can attach and wrap around it. It has certainly helped our recruitment strategy when we sit down with perspective and new partners.
Whitlock: Since we’ve actually launched the new program, we’ve actually seen our recruitment numbers jump on a monthly basis by about 15 to 20 per cent. There’s other things involved, but the new margin opportunity for new partners is a significant part of that.
CDN Now: You also announced a partner loyalty program. What is happening in the marketplace that you felt made this program important?
Whitlock: From a market perspective, we’ve always had a rich incentive program balancing between the partner company, like our discounts and incentives, and programs focused on helping incent the reps at our partner company. We continue to look to balance that, so there’s a good relationship at all levels of our company.
As we restructured the partner program, we saw the loyalty program as something that would make a lot of sense. John and I both have experiences with other companies where where loyalty programs have been very successful and we wanted to bring that opportunity to Kaspersky.
Secondly, we wanted to have another way to incent partners and reward the partner owners for focusing on and doing business with us as well.
CDN Now: What are your thoughts on the Security-as-a-Service model and do you see channel partners offering more of that in the future?
Murdock: Security-as-a-Service is a huge growth lever for us. Most partners that are coming forward are interested in that for their businesses as well and they’re investing in their managed security offerings.
We do have a managed service program today, we’re in process of upgrading that and bringing in more resources for partners that are building out their managed practices. There’s some things on the horizon. It’s going to be a huge growth engine for us. The whole channel is moving there, looking for ways to add services to any technology.
I think it’s already caught on. There’s a lot of partners out there that are already providing a variety of security services like penetration testing and security audits to help customers understand their security posture, all the way to managed services where they’re doing Incident response, reporting and mitigation, all of which will require a strong security partner.
This is an area that we’re going to continue to invest in.
CDN Now: How would you describe your channel coverage in Canada? Does it need to improve in any way?
Murdock: Canada is an important territory for us. We do have some coverage up there from a channel coverage as well as our mid-market and enterprise teams. It’s a small percentage of our North American business overall, but we want to continue to grow it.