New Sophos Americas Chief Examining Partner Lead Gen Concerns

A former Fortinet executive who has been named to oversee Sophos' Americas partner program will be taking a critical look at lead generation following some concern that partners have seen the flow of potential sales leads reduced to almost a trickle.

Kendra Krause, Sophos' new channel sales vice president, said that after being in the role for less than a week, she has gotten the indication from partners that lead generation is a concern. Krause, who has been in the channel since the beginning of her career, told CRN that Sophos would remain 100 percent channel driven.

"I'll be looking at our marketing efforts and making sure we're handing leads out to the right partners and getting them involved earlier than maybe we have in the past," Krause said.

[Related: Sophos Readying Cloud-Based Endpoint Protection For MSPs ]

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Krause took over her new role this week. She will report to Dick Faulkner, Sophos' North American sales vice president. Krause has a history in the network security appliances business. In addition to being Fortinet’s channel sales and operations vice president, Krause also held positions at SonicWall and Watchguard and began her career as a network product marketing manager at CDW.

Sophos' appointment of Krause marked the second channel executive the company hired from Fortinet. In February, Sophos hired channel veteran Michael Valentine, who is serving as worldwide sales vice president. Krause said she took the job because Sophos has been an intriguing security firm with a clear vision.

"Sophos is a company that was on my radar for some time, and I think that they have a very unique offering of products and a vision of where they are going," Krause said. "It's clear that with our current product portfolio our partners will have an advantage providing a security solution for the midmarket with a lot of growth opportunity."

Krause said she plans to continue to meet with partners and maintain a strong dialogue with their concerns. At Fortinet, Krause helped rework the firms' channel program to focus on the midmarket with new unified threat management appliances. She introduced new incentives and enhanced lead generation efforts last year, including two end-user-focused call centers aimed at generating leads.

The integration following Sophos' acquisition of Wilmington, Mass.-based Astaro in 2011 may have significantly impacted the network security vendors' sales channel initiatives according to several Sophos VARs that were originally business partners with Astaro. Several partners CRN spoke with said leads have slowed since the acquisition.

NEXT: Sophos Partners Voice Concern, Remain Positive

David Lanpher, a technical manager at Cliffside Park, N.J.-based P&M Computers, said he saw three to four leads a week when dealing with Astaro. The number plummeted under Sophos to three to four a month, Lanpher said.

"I don't know if they're focusing on larger business partners, but we've done a ton of business from the Astaro side over the years and made some large sales upwards of $2 million in firewalls alone," Lanpher said. "I think they may be considering us small potatoes now."

Lanpher and other Astaro partners said they have seen long-time sales managers appear to turn their focus on other Sophos products and initiatives. Sophos has kept the same basic shell to the Astaro case, but it changed the color and put its logo on the device, one partner said.

"It seems like they're innovating, but getting and keeping people in their territories to provide support has to be important," one partner said, requesting anonymity. "I'm sure they're looking at other areas with how big they have become, but business has changed drastically from the support to the lead generation process."

Sophos' Krause said Astaro, now called Sophos UTM, is a critical part of the company's security portfolio and has been integrated so partners can sell a complete solution. The company's product team is also currently cloud enabling the security gateway and the endpoint software to make them more compatible with managed security service providers, Krause said.

"Sophos has more of a unique offering between its endpoint and gateway solution, making up a complete solution for security," Krause said. "It's a different approach here than at Fortinet."

Sophos endpoint security partners appear to be happy. Paul Mercandetti, president and founder of Reading, Mass.-based PPM Associates (PPMA), a platinum reseller, said Sophos has been extremely responsive when he engages a potential customer. PPM Associates' largest account has 7,000 seats, Mercandetti said, and the company has been partnering with Sophos for 12 years.

"They could maybe generate some more referrals out into the channel, but otherwise, once you start working the deal, you get the right person internally and they are extremely supportive of what you need to do," Mercandetti said. "We've been in business since 1993 and been around the loop a little with various different clients; everyone has their pushes and shoves, but Sophos has been very good."