Call it one of those “good to have” problems for a channel chief – a growing channel business means more partners. And more partners means, potentially, more challenges for your partners.
Such is the lot of Kaspersky Lab right now, as North American channel Chief Chris Doggett describes it: “As volume increases and hits certain levels, and you start to more than just a small set of go-to partners, you start to see more competitions between partners emerge, and that can lead to margin erosion.”
That’s become a problem for Kaspersky, which has long hung its hat on promises of partner profitability.
“We’ve always been the most lucrative, but some of that has come under pressure,” Doggett said.
It’s a problem the company is doing something about it, introducing a revamped deal registration that he says will help ameliorate the problem.
Put simply, Doggett says, it will help remove the problem of competitors swooping in on a partner’s deal late in the sales cycle and selling at a lower price because of the lesser investment. Doggett, for obvious reasons, declined to discuss the specifics of the beefed up deal registration benefits, but he did make this pledge: “whether they’re brand new or long-time partners, if you have a deal registration in place, no other partner can compete with you on price.”
There are two tiers to the program, with one rate devoted to partners who are new to Kaspersky or who deal the company’s products occasionally, and a more lucrative rate for those who are more closely connected to the company.
Not surprisingly, the program came around as a result of feedback from partners, who would do pre-sales work and have opportunities opened up for procurement, leading to the customer going with the lowest-cost provider. Allowing that to continue while the company actively seeks to increase the ranks, an action that would potentially exacerbate the problem, didn’t make sense for Doggett.
“We don’t want to ignore the commentary from our partners on margin erosion when we’re talking about partner recruitment,” he said.
The company also loosened restrictions on what deals can be registered, opening up deal registrations to sale of any Kaspersky B2B product, in an environment of 50 nodes or more. Beyond that, Doggett said, the only requirement is that the deal being registered can’t be one already being worked by Kaspersky and another partner.
At the same time, Doggett said Kaspersky was introducing elements to entice channel partners to offer Web-based demos of the company’s wares, or investing in doing proofs of concept. In the past, the company offered such incentives on a promotional basis, but they varied by quarter – “not quite a promotion, but not quite a standard program either,” Doggett said. Now, it’s being standardized and offered across the board.
And with safeguards in place for existing partners, the company continues to ramp up its activity in the channel. Doggett reports that the company has grown its channel-facing resources by 4x, and is using those increased resources to on-board new channel partners.