Symantec Launches Extended Financing Program For SMB Partners

Specifically, the extended financing program, launched Monday, was developed in concert with GE Capital and extends financing for an extra 30 days -- 60 days total -- on products distributed through Tech Data, Ingram Micro, Synnex and Douglas Stewart. The program is available now through Jan. 30, 2010.

Randy Cochran, Symantec vice president of North American channel sales, said that the company planned to absorb the additional costs in an effort to ease some of the financial burden for channel partners, and possibly their customers, during the economic downturn.

"When you run a program of this size, the obligation is to think creatively to help partners through this downturn," Cochran said. "The need for this solution hasn't gone away. The need for this data is not shrinking."

If anything, Cochran said, the economic downturn has facilitated a rise in information-stealing malware and a greater risk of insider threat.

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"How expensive is your data? You will have a breach; the odds are not in your favor," he added.

The revamped financing terms extend only to registered and Silver partners with an SMB specialization, which encompasses about 700 partners in Canada and the Americas. Symantec doesn't have any immediate plans to extend the financing program to other segments or specializations, executives said.

Along with extending financing terms, Symantec implemented its "Survive and Thrive" program, a series of educational Webinars and business trainings designed to assist partners in finding ways to achieve growth and manage the challenges of a weak economy.

Altogether, the 24-week seminar series, which is free for partners, includes live Webcast sessions as well as on-demand content. In total, the series includes five Webcasts and 12 learning modules on an array of subjects such as maximizing cash flow and identifying new business opportunities.

Cochran said that the company considered partner feedback when developing the financing program as well as "Survive and Thrive." The launch comes months after other security vendors -- namely Kaspersky Lab and Fortinet -- initiated similar financing programs at the beginning of 2009.

"I think what we do is cautiously evaluate all the moves that we make," Cochran said. "You won't see us at the front of the line of any new technology or any new trend. When you look at the actual offer, it's going to be very effective."

Cochran said a variety of factors went into the decision to limit the extended financing program to SMB channel partners.

For one, he said, the company recognized that some of its SMB partners were struggling in the weak economy. Also, unlike their enterprise and midmarket counterparts, the SMB market faces particularly acute economic challenges, while its partners are often "hard to touch on a one-to-one basis," he said.

"If Symantec suffers a breach, we would be able to survive that," he said. "You look at a 50-person organization, they've got a breach, all of that personal information, and the likelihood of them doing business is highly remote. It could be end of game for the small-business man."

The extended financing options also could be passed along to customers, giving channel partners an added boost when in the throes of a sales deal. However Cochran said, "That's up to them. We stay out of that."