RSA Recommits To Partners In 2016, Changes Sales Incentive Structure Toward The Channel

After a period of contention with the channel, RSA is recommitting itself to partners in 2016, company executives said Tuesday, starting with a revamp of its sales compensation structure to favor a partner-led go-to-market strategy.

RSA salespeople will now be compensated solely on product billings, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Sales Dave Castignola said in a presentation at RSA's Virtual Partner Kickoff. The salespeople will no longer be compensated on professional services, he said.

These changes around sales compensation will transform RSA to be "more aligned than we ever have been before" with the company's channel, Castignola said.

[Related: Q&A: RSA President On Dell-EMC Deal, Company Transformation, Encryption And The NSA]

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"I'm really excited about our renewed commitment to partners," Castignola said. "We know how important services are for partners to deliver to ensure success…This is a very big move and I know [partners] share our excitement."

The changes come on the heels of years of brewing channel conflict at RSA, with some speculating that the company might throw out the channel model altogether. Partners cheered the news that RSA was recommitting to its partners.

"Finally!" Jamie Shepard, senior vice president of healthcare and strategy at Dallas-based Lumenate, said in an email to CRN. Shepard said he sat on the RSA Advisory Board from 2009 to 2013 and has actively pushed for more collaboration between the vendor and its partners. He said professional services was one area that frequently came up at the top of a list of areas partners would like changed.

"This news is a clear sign that they are now forced to change their strategy as competition really enables us to do more on our own," Shepard said.

Now, Shepard said RSA needs to continue the momentum and make it clear that it's a "two way street" with partners investing in selling its products, suggesting the company roll out more training and intellectual property to help partners sell the solutions more effectively and in a way that will make it profitable.

The RSA sales strategy for 2016 is threefold, Vice President of Channel Sales Todd Chronert said. First, he said RSA will focus on sales specialization, rolling out a new RSA SecurWorld partner program in July to simplify core competencies and drive net new business. Chronert said RSA will also focus on channel alignment, charging channel sales managers with bridging the gap between RSA's customer-facing team and the partner teams. Finally, he said RSA will focus on launching new solutions with profitable margins for partners.

These initiatives, combined with the new sales compensation models, will help "remove channel conflict" that has been there in years past, Chronert said.

"As we go into 2016, RSA will rely even more on its partners to gain customer mindshare and create successful customer outcomes," Chronert said.

There was no mention of the pending blockbuster Dell-EMC acquisition deal and how it could affect these changes. RSA operates as an independent division of EMC.

The new products the company will launch will fit under a strategy to bring together the company's identity solutions with its security monitoring portfolio, Senior Vice President of Products Grant Geyer said. In 2016, that will take the form of new security analytics solutions to extend visibility with AWS support, give visibility into the hypervisor level of VMware with Gigamon partnerships, behavioral analytics and a focus on the user experience.

Geyer said RSA will also shift the focus of its Archer platform to provide better time to value for users through customized use cases, as well as provide scale to move to cloud environments.

"This is where I believe RSA has the opportunity to shine," Geyer said about the 2016 product roadmap and strategy. "We're the only provider with this broad of a portfolio in both identity and security monitoring. We have the opportunity to make a big difference in one of the biggest challenges occurring in companies today."