Symantec: New Named Accounts For Top Partners, Incentives For Smaller VARs

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Streamlining the company's complex channel program is a large part of the channel strategy, Eldh said. There was always one place to do opportunity registration, he said, but partners that dealt with different product lines often had to reach out to myriad sales and support engineers, lengthening the entire sales process and sometimes resulting in lost opportunities. The consolidated program will provide one framework for partners to understand incentives and rewards for certain sales goals in order to maximize profitability, he said.

"What was more complex was multiple programs that partners needed to keep track of in terms of understanding how to capitalize on incentives," Eldh said. "Those programs might have been driven by different business units, different products and different goals and initiatives at different times."

Many Symantec partners welcomed the news. An executive at one of Symantec's largest partners, who did not want to be named, said the company has been fairly disengaged over the past several years. Business with the company should improve under a streamlined partner program because it should be easier to see a deal through, he said.

"We've been meeting our goals, but there has been relatively no outreach on their behalf other than what we've seen in the news," the executive said.

There was more skepticism about the plan among partners that don't fall at the top in terms of sales revenue.

Symantec was once seen as the security industry darling, but partners increasingly turned their clients to competing products that worked just as well, had solid margins and often undercut the company on price, said George Bardissi, president of Bardissi Enterprises, a Philadelphia-based solution provider. Any changes the company makes to better embrace the channel and reduce complexity will be welcomed, Bardissi said.

"Symantec became the 800-pound gorilla in the room with the powerful name, but they got too diverse too quickly and they lost potency," Bardissi told CRN. "To me and a lot of other people doing what we do, we veered off away from Symantec because its backup solution wasn't keeping up with the industry and there were also some better integration points there with alternative security vendors."

Other partners praised Symantec's still-strong brand name. Customers turn to vendors that they know and trust and "that has been Symantec's sweet spot," said Jim Rock, an IT engineer at Rochester, N.Y.-based website development and computer services firm OS-Cubed.

David Lillis, director of architecture and implementation at Stamford, Conn.-based solution provider Axiom Technology Group, called the partner outreach a positive sign that Symantec will continue to use the channel to drive growth. A partner program that every partner can easily embrace will help get sales deals done, Lillis said.


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