Symantec revamps partner program

Security software vendor Symantec Corp. announced details of a much awaited redesign of the program which now promises a clearer connection between partner performance, and competency and rewards.

The sweeping changes, brought about by consultations with partners some two years ago, were announced at the Symantec Vision 2014 conference in Las Vegas this week.

The new program is slated to go live in October. Under its new global channel strategy, Symantec is collapsing some 20 partner programs, introducing 12 new competency levels for partners, and rolling out a new system for benefits and incentives that is based on competency and customer experience.

John Emard
John Emard

However, even before that Symantec has made no bones about the shortcomings of its current partner program.

“…we were all about selling our product and not enough about solving customers’ problems … your performance wasn’t being rewarded,” according to brief animated video on the Symantec web site which explained the company’s new global channel strategy.

Too many partners were selling the same product and not making enough profit, while customers were not getting the product and services they needed, was how John Emard, senior director of North American channel programs and operations at Symantec, put it.

“We had sales and marketing costs completely out of whack … we were extremely short term driven,” he said in a briefing with journalists. “We lacked a distribution strategy and we were not executing our route to market to get to the customers.”

In response to partner demands, Symantec is cutting down the number of its partner programs and introducing benefits and incentives received by partners tied to their competency.

Emard said the new program increases the amount of benefits and rewards, but he also expects it to reduce the number of Symantec partners.

The new program reflects “several best practices” that are now being seen in the partner ecosystem, according to Marilyn Carr, director for software channel research with analyst firm IDC.

“The single program framework and collapsing partner types from 40 down to eight greatly reduces complexity and will allow partners more flexibility in aligning their business models with a Symantec relationship, she said.

The new program will have two levels of competency:

• Principal competency: Designates partners who have completed the baseline training associated with a competency and have successfully completed required exams while also achieving pre-defined revenue targets.
• Expert competency: Indicates validated proficiency in a solution area, achievement against advanced revenue and growth targets, and demonstration of customer satisfaction.

Partners that achieve principal or expert level stand to receive as much as 20 per cent in additional benefit, which is an increase from the maximum eight per cent registration benefit in the old partner program. Partners who achieve elevated status in multiple competencies will have the ability to advance through the partner program tiers and earn additional benefits.

Partners can achieve competency in the following solution areas: archiving; cloud services, data security; eDiscovery; endpoint management’; enterprise backup and recovery; gateway security; managed services; mobility; security monitoring and management; and Web site security solutions

Under the program, there will be four program tiers:

  • Registered – No competency required. Provides partner with access to core benefits and online training resources
  • Silver- Requires principal competency in one area. Provides partner complete training and exams and Access Opportunity Registration programs
  • Gold – Requires expert competency in one area. Provides partner with access to increased incentives, sales support, marketing and technical benefits
  • Platinum – Requires expert competency in three or more areas. This level unlocks additional investments funds, dedicated support and deeper investments from Symantec

Symantec will help partners determine their existing competencies and map them to those included in the new program. Partners have until October to complete their transition and those who do not chose validation will be placed in the registered tier.

Other financial incentives include:

  • Renewal incentives, in addition to rebates of up to two per cent for Gold and Platinum partners based on renewal performance
  • A growth acceleration rebate of four per cent for Gold partners and eight per cent for Platinum partners. This will be based on revenue growth for the partner’s chosen expert competencies
  • Platinum partners receive five per cent investment market development funds (MDF) based on the new license bookings for products within the competency the partner has achieved. For Gold partners, MDF is proposal-based

“Benefits are clearly associated with a specific level of commitment, as evidenced by demonstrated competencies,” observed Carr. “This should incent many partners to double-down on their Symantec investments, while others will fade away – which isn’t a bad thing as it strengthens the partner portfolio overall.”

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Nestor Arellano
Nestor Arellano
Toronto-based journalist specializing in technology and business news. Blogs and tweets on the latest tech trends and gadgets.

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