BlackBerry’s Cylance Midmarket MSSP Sales Offensive: 6 Things You Need To Know

BlackBerry has transformed its Cylance portfolio into a midmarket cybersecurity standout for MSSPs. Here are five things you need to know about BlackBerry’s midmarket sales offensive.

Colleen McMillan

Colleen McMillan

BlackBerry has fine-tuned its Cylance portfolio to deliver a bigger return on investment in the midmarket and SMB segment for MSSPs and their customers, said BlackBerry Vice President of Global Channel Sales Colleen McMillan.

BlackBerry’s ROI advantage in the midmarket and SMB is even attracting partners to move off competitive offerings, said McMillan in an interview with CRN.

Underlying the company’s aggressive push into the MSSP market is a product portfolio that is “an absolute must-have” for midmarket and SMB customers, said McMIllan. “We have the proven solutions in the midmarket and SMB,” she said.

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“The first thing that partners look at is do customers absolutely need what we are selling,” she said. “BlackBerry has one of the first and most advanced AI- and machine-learning-driven cybersecurity endpoint protection products through the acquisition of Cylance with CylanceProtect and CylanceOptics. It provides that prevention-first-type solution that customers need.”

That Cylance product portfolio, which BlackBerry acquired nearly three years ago with the $1.4 billion blockbuster purchase of Cylance, is resulting in “tremendous growth” in the midmarket and SMB segments, said McMillan.

Among the ROI factors driving MSSP wins, said McMillan, is a cybersecurity product portfolio that has been designed for more rapid deployment into those midmarket and SMB accounts, requiring less technical resources. “It [offers] a more effective ROI as well as being more cost-effective,” she said.

BlackBerry Vice President of Cybersecurity Products Nathan Jenniges, a 10-year McAfee veteran who joined BlackBerry in January, said the company has a razor-sharp focus on the midmarket.

“We are really honing everything we are doing, from products to go to market to sales to the channel, really understanding that midmarket customer segment, what their needs are and optimizing for it … [including] our messaging, the channels we are marketing in and the partners we are looking for in this space,” he said.

The BlackBerry midmarket sweet spot is customers with 500 to 10,000 employees, said Jenniges.

Here are six things MSSPs and MSPs need to know about the BlackBerry Cylance midmarket/SMB sales offensive.

Expanded Protect & Earn Incentive Program

The BlackBerry Cylance Protect & Earn Incentive Program rewards partners for closing net-new customers. It has resulted in $400,000 in partner rewards since it was launched in July 2021, adding more than 245 new customers to the company’s installed base.

Partner sales reps can earn up to $45,000 per deal, while system engineers or technical sales reps can earn up to $15,000 per deal, said McMillan. “This has been really well received and highly lucrative for the sales teams,” she said.

Earning that new customer win has potential long-term financial benefits for the channel as well, with the potential for renewals and upsell opportunities with an “incumbency” price advantage for the partners winning those deals, said McMillan.

BlackBerry is doubling down on the Protect & Earn Incentive Program in 2023, said McMillan. “We are continuing it and adding to it,” she said. “We are also adding more investment to MDF.”

The increased channel investment comes with BlackBerry Cylance’s top MSSPs growing at a double-digit clip, said McMillan. “We have really, really been investing in the MSSP business,” she said.

A Growing Channel Team

BlackBerry—which does more than 90 percent of its sales through partners—has doubled its channel team over the last two and a half years under McMillan’s leadership.

The cybersecurity company now has a channel team of more than 75 people, including channel system engineers, channel marketing and channel operations personnel.

Those channel teams have tightly aligned MSSPs and MSPs with the BlackBerry direct sales team with an emphasis on finding, working and winning deals together.

“When we talk about growing together, we see the channel with BlackBerry as a ‘one-team-type’ approach,” said McMillan. “If our partners are successful, we are successful.”

The tight alignment with the channel and BlackBerry team is an “intangible” that is often overlooked, said McMillan. “We have done a lot to make sure that we are comp-neutral,” she said. “We have done things to eliminate any possible areas for conflict and to make sure the field sellers understand who the partners that are involved in a deal are and that the partners know the field sellers so they can get [sales engineer] or sales support.”

A New MSSP Council And Better Analytics For Partners

BlackBerry earlier this year added a new MSSP Advisory Council and assigned top BlackBerry executive sponsors to key partners, said Jenniges.

The MSSP Advisory Council has been “well received” by MSSPs who are anxious to get more product and engineering details straight from the BlackBerry Cylance product team, said McMIllan. “Partners love that they have access to [Jenniges],” she said.

BlackBerry is also moving to provide more data and analytics to help partners succeed, said Jenniges.

“A key area we have been focused on this year is better leveraging data and analytics, not just to deliver the product for the customer, but also how we understand the customers, the partners and how we provide complete service to them,” said Jenniges.

One example: BlackBerry is now providing data product analytics to the support team to help more quickly resolve support issues, said Jenniges.

A Focus On Simplifying Security Operations, Zero Trust Network Access

BlackBerry has moved aggressively to “simplify security operations” with its Cylance product portfolio under the leadership of Jenniges.

“We are looking at every aspect of the workflow, to the point of resource [utilization]. A lot of time is wasted in cybersecurity products,” said Jenniges. “We’re obsessed with each step, looking at how we can make this faster and easier.”

One big investment that BlackBerry has made is additions to its Multi-Tenant Console, a single-pane-of-glass management tool that makes it easier for MSSPs to configure, deploy and manage customer IT environments, said Jenniges.

“We added in some features that just make it easier for partners to manage the tenants, to be able to configure and deploy policies, to deploy some of our threat intelligence rules,” he said. “This is looking at how we take time out of the process for MSSPs so they are more efficient with their resources. … It was more of a reporting tool and now we have turned it into a full-on management interface.”

Another big product priority is “being great at enabling fast and easy remote work,” said Jenniges. “What that means is we are investing heavily in our [CylanceGateway] zero trust network access solution. We are in the process of bringing this into the channel and into our MSSP partners. We have had some components that we have built. We are in the process of integrating them into a cohesive solution and really focused on keeping true to that midmarket by making it really fast and easy.”

A big mistake made by some companies is designing products for the large enterprise, which leaves them far too complex for midmarket customers, said Jenniges.

“When you take a solution that was designed first and foremost for the large enterprise and then you try to bring it and sell it downmarket, sometimes the products are way too complex,” he said. “There are way too many steps to figure it out and configure it, and then that larger enterprise provider will offer you a bunch of professional services to get it all set up or the partner has to offer services. I believe products should be really easy to get set up.”

Helping MSSPs Deliver 24/7/365 Service

BlackBerry is moving aggressively to help MSSPs deliver more 24/7/365 services offerings to midmarket customers. “We’re seeing more and more need for different types of managed services,” said Jenniges.

That demand for security resiliency ranges from a full 24/7 offering to augmented services or incident response services, said Jenniges. “That is the only answer to the people shortages: You have to leverage services,” he said.

That managed services security market is set to explode from $22.45 billion in 2020 to over $77 billion in 2030, said McMillan. “That is a huge opportunity in terms of needing more of a managed services offering versus a buy and resale offering,” she said.

MSSPs and MSPs can either sell the BlackBerry Cylance offering or wrap around their own services, said McMillan.

The Cylance Brand Is Back On BlackBerry Cybersecurity Products

BlackBerry earlier this year put the Cylance brand back on all its cybersecurity products, said Jenniges.

“If you go on the website now, everything is CylanceProtect, CylanceOptics, CylanceGuard, etc., he said.

“That was a decision made by our marketing team based on the feedback and data we saw what people were looking for and talking about,” said Jenniges. “We have seen pretty significant increases in visits to our pages, time on the page, lead conversions, simply through the branding changes.”

Now that the Cylance brand has been brought back to the product set, the company is working on additional messaging and content focused on the “midmarket and relevant needs of today and what outcomes and benefits you are going to get out of our products” said Jenniges. “You’ll see a lot of that rolling out from us as well.”