New incentives and enhanced lead generation efforts are among the highlights at this year's Fortinet Global Partner Conference.
The Sunnyvale, California-based security company, which has been working to reinforce its marketing efforts, announced intentions to establish two end-user-focused call centers aimed at generating leads that will then be distributed to nearby, qualified channel partners.
"We are going to be doing a lot of callout campaigns and investing a lot more in lead generation," explained Fortinet Channel Sales Vice President Kendra Krause. "We are looking at investing about five times the amount that we've invested in the past in lead generation. This is going to be done through callout centers that will have a direct touch to end-users, generating those opportunities and those leads, and then all of those leads we filtered back to the channel. In recent test campaigns, we found that callout centers and direct touch seem to deliver a lot of new opportunities."
The distribution of those leads will largely be based on partner level and investment, according to Krause. If multiple partners in the same area and the same level are eligible for the lead, she added, the decision will be based on whose expertise is best suited to the needs of the particular customer.
Much of the discussion during day one of the event focused on the new operating system rolled out by the company last month. FortiOS 5 boasts 150 additional capabilities ranging from support for IPv6 to improved sandboxing features.
The improvements are expected to "enable our channel partners to be a lot more consultative in their customer approach," said Kevin Flynn, senior product marketing manager at Fortinet. "It provides a lot more flexibility and granularity that can help partners defend against sophisticated threats, as well as produce the kind of validation and reports necessary to satisfy compliance requirements."
Some partners in attendance are taking a wait-and-see attitude regarding the new operating system.
"Seeing is believing," said James Smith, a partner at Security7 Networks in Hampton, N.H. "Version 4.3 is very stable, but I can see value in the enhancements as well. And, I have a lot of confidence in Fortinet's technical expertise."
In addition, a wider variety of products are now going to be integrated into the company's deal registration program, as part of a concerted effort to reward partners for generating additional business. "The program that we have is great for margin protection and is very popular with the partners," observed Krause. "In the past, the program has been based on hardware, but now we are adding services to it. A [services] renewal of $10,000 of more will now be eligible for margin protection by registering it with us."
The company is also issuing a new rewards card program for sales people and is about to begin making its training programs available to partners at vendor cost.
The three-day event is currently under way on a cruise ship in the Caribbean where more than a thousand participants are in attendance.
PUBLISHED NOV. 6, 2012