McAfee Steps Up Antivirus Renewal Efforts

Last October, McAfee introduced its SMB Affiliate Offering, a program designed to improve the Santa Clara, Calif.-based vendor's antivirus renewal rate for customers in the sub-100 segment.

Turnover and a high failure rate for companies in this part of the market have made it difficult for McAfee to sustain a decent renewal rate, but the company believes that improving its communication with customers is the key to fixing the situation.

As part of the program, McAfee contacts the customer by phone and e-mail 45 days before the end of a license and provides them with the information they need to renew, such as a grant number and contact details for the incumbent channel partner.

Customers can either renew through their partners or online through McAfee's MAX partner portal. If the customer renews online, the partner gets a 15 percent commission based on MSRP, said Dave Dickison, senior vice president of North America channels at McAfee.

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While McAfee benefits from increased renewals, the program also helps partners save time and effort that would otherwise be spent in the logistics of chasing down renewals, said Dickison. "The dollar value of these transactions is relatively small, and partners must incur cost to pursue them," he said.

McAfee's antivirus renewal rates since launching the program have "grown significantly," said Dickison, although he declined to provide a specific percentage.

A solution provider and McAfee partner said he hasn't heard of the SMB Affiliate Program, but isn't surprised that McAfee has introduced it without much fanfare.

"Any time you're talking about a vendor contacting customers directly, it's a sensitive subject, and VARs can go through the roof," said the source, who asked not to be named.

But while the antivirus renewals program may ruffle a few feathers among VARs whose businesses are based on maintenance contracts, it will likely benefit most solution providers, added the source. "McAfee is actually doing all the work, which is a good thing," he said.

The fact that McAfee doesn't engage in the renewal until 45 days out gives partners more than enough time to cross-sell and up-sell, Dickison said.

In January, McAfee created a midmarket sales team to help reach customers with 100 to 1,000 users, ensuring they receive the support they need both from McAfee and its partners.

This effort addresses a similar decline in antivirus renewals in the midmarket, and McAfee has introduced experts to assist partners and work with the channel on highly qualified opportunities, according to Dickison.

"We plan to use the midmarket team to enable partners to be more successful in this space and provide an appropriate balance of resources," Dickison said.