RSA Attacks 'Friction' With Partners

The "under-penetrated account program" addresses a problem that exists between many vendors and partners: Direct sales teams taking business that resellers claim belongs to them. On Wednesday, during RSA's first Virtual Partner Kickoff, an online event laying out RSA's channel plans for the year, Sean Pearson, director of the Americas channel, acknowledged tension existed and the company wants to "improve that and take friction out of the model."

In an interview with CRN Thursday, Joe Gabriel, director of global channel marketing for RSA, said the company's new program, launched in the first quarter, has direct sales reps divvying up excess leads among chosen partners. Direct sales teams often have more potential customers then they can contact.

Partners that join the program get higher margins on deal registrations and the first crack at additional sales, even if the customer calls a direct sales rep first. "They own the up-sell opportunity on that account," Gabriel said.

To improve communication between upper-management at RSA and partners, the vendor has started an Executive Sponsor Program in which both sides share sales priorities for the year. "We're making sure that we're executing on those highest-level priorities from an executive level down," Pearson said during the online event.

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Other initiatives starting this year include a beta program for a new authentication product that integrates RSA's SecurID tokens and the vendor's appliances, called Authentication Manager and Authentication Manager Express. The latter products are used to prevent unauthorized access to corporate Web sites, while the tokens are used in accessing laptops or desktops.

RSA plans to combine the products into one and test it with channel partners in the third quarter, Gabriel said. "It's the next generation of authentication solutions from RSA." The company has not said when the product will be generally available.

On the post-sales services side of its business, RSA wants to add a couple of partners to its Authorized Services Network. The North American program currently has eight members and RSA wants to end the year with 10. To qualify, a services-focused reseller will have to undergo training, as well as shadow an RSA professional services team during two jobs. After that, the company will decide whether the partner is qualified for the program.