Sophos has rolled out a new partner program that updates various components in keeping with market evolution, while at the same time integrating several key aspects from the channel program of Astaro, which was acquired by Sophos on July 6 of last year.
"Under our previous program, partners could not necessarily purchase the products from the other side of the house, whether that be Sophos or Astaro," explained Emmanuelle Skala, vice president, global channel and sales operations. "We looked at the two programs and found the best practices in each, and built an expanded and integrated program that accommodated the best parts of both."
The new program is currently split into two tracks. The reseller track is geared towards partners whose primary business model is to recommend technologies and handle licensing. The second track is geared towards solution providers with a stronger emphasis on value added solutions, services and extensive implementations. "One size does not fit all," explained Skala. "So, each side of our program has different requirements and benefits that allows us to meet the needs of that particular type of partner."
Additional tracks representing new channel business models will also be forthcoming, according to Sophos.
The new program also features a revamped certification program segmented among sales personnel, sales engineers and a new, high-end architect level.
"The sales and engineering certifications are 100 percent online, and our new portal can track your progress," said Skala. "The sales content is about the messaging, how to handle objections etc. The engineering track is based on an entire virtual environment where engineers can log in and essentially do touch-and-feel implementation and installation of our technologies without ever having to leave their desk. The architect is classroom-based and is really geared towards those people who are doing advanced level implementation, support and services. All of the content has been revamped on each of these and it covers our entire product line."
NEXT: Partner Aims at Expanded CapabilitiesAs with any new program, there are always challenges; however, one Sophos partner feels confident that proper training will aid in the transition, and that the program will ultimately add to his company’s sales repertoire.
"New channel programs can be challenging, but in many cases the challenge is a positive one," said Sam Heard, president of Data Integrity Services, a Lakeland, Florida-based Sophos partner. "We will be training for additional capabilities, which will give us a new arrow in our quiver and help us to broaden our skill sets. Once our guys get certified, we can better upsell into an expanded product line."
In addition to supporting certifications and other metrics that need to be tracked, a new partner portal supports deal registration, quotes, product ordering and more. Sophos' Skala added that partners from both sides of the aisle will see components of their legacy program embedded into the new one.
"The certifications have more of an Astaro flair, but the margins and incentives are based on Sophos," she said. "For instance, Astaro did not have deal registration, but deal registration is now part of the combined program. We also are keeping MDF and spiffs from the Sophos side. But, the certification program, on the other hand, basically comes from Astaro."
"A lot of the input came from the partners themselves," summarized Skala. "We were very interested in what they liked about the program, and what they didn't like about the program. And, they were very vocal about their preferences. We spent a lot of time making sure that we did not ostracize any of our constituents."
PUBLISHED JULY 18, 2012