Symantec this week is meeting face-to-face with top partners at its North American Partner Summit, telling them that two-thirds of its named accounts are being moved to the channel and it will rely heavily on these elite partners to close deals.
To help all levels of solution providers become more engaged, Symantec also is addressing the complexity of its partner program head on, aiming to make it easier for partners to understand the rewards and incentives offered across the product line. While the company will depend more on its top partners going forward, it also needs partners that play up and down the Symantec portfolio, said John Eldh, vice president of North America channel sales at the Mountain View, Calif., company.
"The strategy that we have created is really focused on driving a great customer experience, delivering on growth and doing all of this with a more efficient cost structure," Eldh told CRN. "That all has us very focused on the need to better leverage all of our resources, including our channel partners. This strategy is putting our partners in what I'm calling an ever-increasing role of really strategic importance."
Shifting more than 70 percent of named accounts to the commercial space is an attempt to get partners to take a greater role in account management, Eldh said. The shift, which turned named accounts over to the commercial segment in North America, started in July, he said.
The move comes after Symantec earlier this year laid off 1,700 employees, or about 8 percent of its workforce and reported a 4 percent decline in sales year-over-year in its most recent quarter "We are putting forth a more thoughtful process around our resources and are looking to our partners to drive more of the account management with and for us across our customer base," Eldh told CRN. "This shift demonstrates our commitment and belief in our partners and their capabilities to manage and grow customer relationships."
The channel revamp is part of Symantec's two-year strategy to streamline its product line and overhaul its internal processes. Eldh has been overseeing a retraining of the company's sales force and making sure field sales reps are incented to sell through channel partners. The company introduced the incentives in July, providing quota acceleration on sales force compensation for deals that go through partners.
Symantec is not looking to shed partners, but instead establish more of a direct connection with them to better understand their competency levels and fuel growth in the area of their expertise, he said.
In the past, Symantec's incentives were geared at having partners sell a broader range of products, pushing them outside their area of expertise and eroding the customer experience in the process, Eldh said.
"We need transactional partners helping us with our transactional business just as much as we need solution providers at the high end supporting us with our most complex solutions," Eldh said. "The power of the channel strategy is helping us to help our partners understand where they're strongest based on their capabilities and then incenting them and rewarding them to play where they're the strongest."
For example, partners that sell Symantec Endpoint Protection and Backup Exec software in the commercial and SMB markets will be counseled, coached and given rewards and incentives for net new sales, Eldh said. Those that are strong at implementation of post-sales support of the company's most technical products will be encouraged to take a larger role in account management and be rewarded for bringing in new sales, Eldh said.
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