McAfee Gives Channel A Lift

Antivirus vendor adds rules of engagement, beefs up training

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McAfee, a unit of Network Associates, is rolling out a revamped channel program that includes new rules of engagement, enhanced sales and training, and improved support.

The antivirus vendor, based here, is setting up 10 technical training centers across the country and last week launched a new e-learning sales training program. McAfee also has added more channel managers, established a partner advisory council and this month set up dedicated technical support for its partners.

The changes are part of an effort to build a "world-class channel organization" and reflect a renewed commitment to the channel by Network Associates, said Mike Menegay, McAfee's vice president of channels and alliances for the Americas.

Network Associates said it plans to spend 36 percent more this year than last year across all of its business units to support channel partners. The company declined to disclose how much it spends annually on its channel programs.

Menegay, who joined the company last August, has a channel background and previously owned ComputerLand franchises in Texas. He led McAfee's reassessment of its channel program. "We had to dig down and truly understand what needed to be changed," he said.

One big change McAfee made was to commit to conducting 100 percent of its business through the channel in accounts of 1,500 nodes and below, Menegay said. That policy took effect Jan. 1.

Last year, Network Associates faced criticism from some solution providers, who accused it of courting their customers directly.

Sean Stenovitch, president of Future Com, North Richland Hills, Texas, said his firm didn't have those problems but that McAfee's new SMB policy would help his business. "There was a significant amount of business that was done direct in 2000 that should be up for renewal [this year and could be won by the channel."

Network Associates is becoming a better partner, but it's up to solution providers to earn the deals, Stenovitch added.

"I would definitely say it's improved, from where we sit," said Jeffrey Egol, president of Savant Solutions, New York. Back-end support from a manufacturer is key, and McAfee has increased its sales and technical support, he said.

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