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The Partner Program Profile of Successful High-Growth Cybersecurity Companies

It’s no secret that channel partners are an integral part of the IT security industry landscape. How are high-growth IT security companies seeing channel partner program success?

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

The Partner Program Profile of Successful High-Growth Cybersecurity Companies

By Jim Somers

It’s no secret that channel partners are an integral part of the IT security industry landscape. Both established cybersecurity companies that have been around for decades as well as newer companies that are seeing lift-off with the help of VCs, these high-tech security companies need channel partners to reach all customers -- potential and current.

Approximately 1 in 4 Relayware customers are cybersecurity companies, including Arbor Networks, CyberArk, Gemalto/SafeNet, Kaspersky, Veracode and Webroot. We’ve have front row seats to their amazing success with their channel partners, and we've witnessed how these companies' needs differ. 

I’d like to break down what high-growth cybersecurity companies focus their channel operations and what brings them results from their channel partners.

First of all, how are we defining as high-growth cybersecurity companies?

  • Annual Revenue: < $250 million
  • Number of Partners: < 1000
  • Focus of Channel: establish their channel presence and grow the number of partners.

The first priority for IT security companies that fit this description is partner recruitment, including identifying the right value-added resellers (VAR), systems integrators (SI) and managed service providers (MSP), to go to market. This is a resource-intensive effort that involves strong marketing to generate awareness and interest from potential partners. High-growth companies need recruitment to go fast but effectively.

The very first step in the recruitment phase is for the vendor to create a strategic partner profile. This will need to be refined as the channel ecosystem grows, so don’t be afraid to adjust as results from your channel partners come in. Keep a close eye on who is selling the most who requires the least effort from your end? This informs the ideal partner to recruit in the future. Do keep in mind that some aspects of success should be weighted more heavily than others.

Now, don’t continuously recruit new partners forever on end. Rather, after the initial push to recruit new partners, new partner recruitment will slow. Then invest in proper on-boarding techniques and partnering automation to do the heavy lifting for you and offload the myriad tasks associated with successfully enabling new partners. 

A critical aspect of onboarding is training and enablement. In 2013 Gartner reported that the most successful companies with global channel partners “are investing time and resources in expanded university relationships, rotational programs, multichannel learning options, certification programs, leadership development and others.” And yet, this is an area where it’s possible to throw lots of money to the issue and see little results. In order to make your training have an positive impact on your channel program offer training in a variety of formats, delivered a number of different ways. And absolutely make sure your trainings are accessible via your partner portal and available on mobile devices.

Sample of Training Formats:

  • Breakfast seminars
  • Lunch and learns
  • Presentations
  • Role plays

Sample of Training Avenues:

  • Live webinars
  • Classroom
  • Written materials
  • On-demand video

And finally, these high-growth IT security companies need the leads and deals to come in from partners, and reducing any hurdle adds to partners’ incentive. Like training, make lead registration and deal registration easily accessible via your partner portal, so your channel partners only have to sign into one place for every interaction they have with you. Additionally, by making lead registration available to your channel partners, you are demonstrating that you are committed to their success by suppressing channel conflict or conflict with direct sales.

These are the key areas of successful channel partner programs that high-growth IT security companies focus on. Next week in our blog, I’ll dissect the operational areas of focus for established IT security companies.

Please join our webinar on August 12 as we discuss strategies for high-growth IT security companies as well as established companies in this industry. You can sign up here.