As a 100% channel company, Kaspersky Lab constantly invests in the well-being of its partners. Whether through improved training, better incentives or a more strategic focus on content, Kaspersky constantly keeps an ear to the ground, garnering feedback from partners but also applying industry best practices.
In the below Q&A, Jon Whitlock, VP of B2B Marketing at Kaspersky Lab North America, shares how the company is ramping up its channel programs and initiatives to boost partner loyalty and sales through 2015 and beyond.
Channel Marketer Report (CMR): Kaspersky Lab recently announced enhancements to its partner program. Could you give us more details on the enhancements and what the program looks like now?
Whitlock: We’re really excited about the enhancements we announced in Q1! First, while the Partner Program has always had a medal partner program structure, the new design is much more formalized, with specific criteria for each tier (Registered, Silver, Gold, Platinum). The design also helps us align the program globally with other regions.
Another enhancement to the program is the Partner Demand Center. We’ve always been 100 percent dedicated to our partners, and we’ve really taken that a step further with this new feature. This is where partners will have access to content and ready-to-go marketing campaigns that can be easily co-branded and executed to drive leads directly back to them – and the Partner Demand Center is provided at no charge for our Silver, Gold and Platinum partners.
Of course, beyond the efficacy of a vendor’s products, partners want to be sure of the value the partner program provides to their business before they sign on. One feature of our new program is that partners can be even more profitable as we help them surpass their sales goals. Partners now have the ability to achieve up to 50 percent margins and will be rewarded with additional incentives beyond that, including a new Partner Loyalty Program that rewards VAR and MSP owners for all sales on an ongoing basis.
Lastly, we’re really ramping up our efforts to be closely aligned with partners in their business planning – planning that helps us hit our collective goals and is tied to our MDF and incentive programs. We established a formal planning process earlier this year and will be holding quarterly and annual planning sessions with our Platinum and Gold partners respectively to stay current with them and keep the momentum growing. As always, our partners will continuously benefit from expert assistance and our highly responsive and comprehensive team of channel account managers, sales engineers and Kaspersky Lab expert marketing professionals.
CMR: Could you provide more details on what you consider to be the most significant enhancement made to Kaspersky’s partner program?
Whitlock: The formalized tiered structure will have the most impact on the program. This is because we want to make the right investments with our partners depending on where they are in the program. New partners who are working with us to build our partnership require different investments and activities than ones that we’ve worked with over time to build a successful business. Also, we want to increase our investment with partners who are showing the most engagement — those who are typically on the higher levels of the tiered structure. These partners are taking advantage of the program, bringing in solid results and want to continue to work closely with us. Again, business planning is also key to helping us work together and help them surpass their sales goals and achieve the level that makes sense for them. So while it’s a subtle change in structure, it will have a big impact on the success of our partners.
CMR: What were the underlying reasons for making these changes and how are you planning on measuring the results of these changes and during what timeline?
Whitlock: We want to make sure we’re providing the resources and investments that match the needs of each partner based on their stage in our program and their level of commitment. New partners will receive the resources needed to start selling and achieve profitability as quickly as possible and our top partners will get the attention and resources they need for our continued mutual growth. The program enhancements will benefit all partners, regardless of their level of investment, and help us to manage the program across all partners more effectively.
We plan to measure the success of the program on a quarterly basis, and of course, we’ll look at the year-over-year numbers in 2016. The program was formally rolled out to partners in Q1 and we’ve already received some great feedback and seen great results. The success of the program will be measured on the success our partners have under the new enhancements. We will also be tracking the growth of partners per segment and how quickly partners move from one level to another.
CMR: Finally, with these changes, is the program set for the year or are there other updates coming?
Whitlock: The program framework will remain the same throughout this year and next, but we will be rolling in more program enhancements later this year that will be designed to entice partners to bolster their sales and technical competencies through added incentives for achieving certifications under some new specializations, including endpoint, virtualization, mobility and managed and professional services. We look forward to continuing to enhance the partner program based on evolving market opportunities and partner feedback.