BitDefender New Channel Program Ups Security Competition

The Bucharest-based company on Monday launched an aggressive global channel play, the BitDefender Partner Advantage Network, which will leverage the company's retooled channel efforts.

BitDefender Global Communications Director Vitor Souza said the company has had a channel presence since 2004, but last year launched an initiative to fully revamp its channel play to benefit partners and bring in more partner business.

"This is not something we created internally and just put out there," he said, noting that the new program ties together more dedicated technical support, sales and marketing assistance and training and education to help partners grow in the security space. According to Souza, the program also offers the most beneficial commissions and business terms in the security industry.

The BitDefender Partner Advantage Network targets four distinct partner levels: Premier, Plus, Select and Registered; each of which reward resellers based on commitment, investment and experience. Registered partners have access to free marketing and technical e-newsletters, free customer care and updated program and product information; Select partners rewards resellers that invest in sales training and commit to annual revenue goals; Plus partners have achieved technical certification and the level provides additional support through a BitDefender partner management team and leads from BitDefender's leads program; and Premium partners, the highest partnership level, maintain a greater number of dedicated, certificated individuals in sales and technical positions to obtain higher revenue goals and work closely with the dedicated BitDefender partner team for sales and marketing plans.

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Premier partners also receive marketing assistance in build joint case studies, special rebate and funding programs and participation in BitDefender's beta program, Souza said.

Souza said right now annual revenue goals for the designated tiers have not been set in stone.

On the competitive front, Souza said BitDefender stacks up against AVG, Kaspersky and Sophos and the program gives security VARs a stronger solution, a full security platform and end-to-end protection backed by a program committed to partnership and profitability.

And Souza said BitDefender isn't looking to just beef up its partner numbers. The company hopes the Partner Advantage Program follows the 80-20 rule where Premier partners generate 80 percent of the revenue through the channel.

"We're really looking to first re-engage current partners and bring them up through the ranks," Souza said. "Our top priority is to make our active base of partners higher."

BitDefender is also taking an untraditional approach when it comes to development funds. Souza said the company is scraping marketing development funds (MDFs) in favor of what it's calling sales development funds (SDFs), where Plus and Premier partners receive funds to drive demand generation that can be used for customer Webinars and seminars and telemarketing.

Souza said the program rewards partners with points in three key areas: New customers, renewal retainment and overall revenue performance. And targets are agreed upon with channel account managers on a quarterly basis and point accrual yields higher rebates according to program status. Souza said the total possible rebates can reach 9 percent.

"There is a huge benefit from not making just an easy sale," he said.

Other components of the new BitDefender Partner Advantage Program include sales enablement and marketing tools, technical support and training, not-for-resell licenses, visibility on and use of the Partner Advantage Network brand logo for added marketing strength. Partners also receive access to BitDefender's PartnerLink online portal.

Overall, Souza said, the program is designed to benefit committed partners that drive business and help BitDefender compete in a crowded Internet security marketplace.

"We don't have the brand awareness of some of the other players," Souza said.