Kaspersky Channel Chief: Retooled Channel Program Bolsters Support


Kaspersky Lab has retooled its channel program, adding to its channel and sales teams and focusing on ways to improve its support processes, according to Kaspersky Lab channel chief Christopher Doggett, who said nearly all the changes are in response to partner requests.

In an interview with CRN conducted at the company's 6th Annual Partner Summit in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, last week, Doggett, formerly of Kaspersky competitor, Sophos, said he is responding to rapid market share growth. Kaspersky is 100 percent channel and it will stay that way, Dogget said.

"We are partner-led in the market place and we will continue to be that way for the foreseeable future," Doggett said.

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Kaspersky, Woburn, Mass., is one of the fastest growing large vendors of antimalware and endpoint security software, according to Gartner, settling in behind Symantec and McAfee. The company has mobile device management features and also added client management tools for vulnerability, patch and asset management capabilities and plans to roll out data loss prevention technology later this year. Those additions add complexity to the company's software, say industry analysts, but Doggett and other Kaspersky executives say that they are needed to capture a larger piece of the enterprise segment.

"We are purely focused on endpoint security, and that's a big advantage," Doggett said. "We're not confused, doing a lot of different things, pulling us in different directions."

Changes to the Kaspersky Lab channel program have been rapid. Deal protection and a margin and pricing control program rolled out in July help control the deal and limit competition from other partners, Doggett said. The company also introduced changed territory mappings simplifying them into five regions with teams that have individuals focused on a market segment.

"There is now a clear set of folks that they go to market with, and they operate as a team," Doggett said. "It's a much more cohesive and straight forward group for our customers to engage with."

An overhauled lead generation engine should boost volume, Doggett said. The company has also added new sales materials, a channel hotline and a merit based marketing process to get partners up to speed quickly on the position of a product set, he said. The company's managed service provider program, introduced last year, has seen growth despite limited promotion, he said.

The company last month added a manager in charge of VAR sales and an individual for channel marketing. Separate teams will support the state, local and education (SLED) initiative for small and midmarket accounts. Vertical segmentation will focus support specifically on public sector and private sector deals. The company also changed its account management approach addressing management needs for new customers and those that have been longtime customers.

Kaspersky has addressed the gaps it's had with the latest changes, said Todd O'Bert, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Productive Corp., a security storage and infrastructure reseller, which sells Kaspersky Lab, Sophos, and AVG endpoint security products.

"Kaspersky wants its partners to really own and sell and ultimately do the deal," O'Bert said. "Under the new changes it's got a much more focused approach."

The company also made channel changes based feedback from a 2012 partner survey it conducted. The immediate changes include the ability for customers to get home-use, not for resale software licenses more easily. The company's partner Web site is being enhanced with deal registration pricing configurators, social media and access to more information on the product roadmap. The renewals process was extended to provide broader visibility into upcoming license renewals and cross-sell and upselling opportunities, Doggett said.

'We have a renewals team that is dedicated to existing customer accounts with our partners and we had not been able to provide as much advanced notice as our partners told us they would like to have," Doggett said. "They would like to know who is expressing interest and now we're providing that visibility."

PUBLISHED FEB. 11, 2013