Talk about not resting on your laurels! At the same time that ESET, an IT security company, announced a record 40% year-over-year increase in channel partner growth, the company also heralded the launch of its new Partner Council.
The advisory group, said the company, would include 10 active partners initially who would participate in quarterly calls and get a first-look at new products and technologies. ESET would use the feedback to refine product roadmaps, help shape the supporting content and ultimately better enable its partners’ sales teams.
Channel Marketer Report (CMR) contacted ESET to learn more about the story behind the Partner Council. Hope McCluskey, Director of Partner Marketing and Events, offered this behind-the-scenes look at the genesis of the new program.
CMR— What was the impetus for creating the Partner Council?
Hope McCluskey — We are always looking to improve our programs and offerings, and the Partner Council allows us to hear first-hand what our Partners want and what their customers need. The Council we’re creating represents various business models in the channel and includes small-to-large organizations. We want to get the perfect balance in our council in order to better understand a variety of business challenges that channel resellers are facing.
CMR — Was there a concern that ESET was not adequately addressing partner issues/concerns?
Hope McCluskey — There was never a concern that we were not adequately addressing partner issues. As a forward-thinking and acting company, ESET wanted to ensure our partners are continually heard and consulted regularly. As a channel organization, our Partners are our frontline to the market and customer. They have industry knowledge and insight that they want to share with each other, and our Partner Council provides them with that forum.
CMR — Did ESET recognize in a Partner Council a way to get more market intelligence?
Hope McCluskey — ESET’s Partner Council is a “Give/Get” premise. That is, we give our Partner Council participants details on product roadmaps; business trends; upcoming promotions; and additional company insight. In return, we look for feedback, advice, and yes, market intelligence to allow us to bring it full circle and better serve our partners.
CMR — Is the Partner Council ESET’s first organized effort to obtain partner insights into the company and its customers?
Hope McCluskey — No, we have always depended on our partners to provide ongoing feedback on needs and market direction. We survey our partners consistently to balance their needs with product development and direction. We launched this specific council to formalize this process. The council represents a cross-section of partners of all sizes and types including Enterprise, SMB, MSP and consumer businesses.
CMR — What steps did ESET take before deciding that it would create a Partner Council?
Hope McCluskey — As the market changes, ESET is always trying to stay ahead to ensure we are delivering the right programs and resources for our partners. Based on requests from our top partners as well as partner surveys, industry feedback, and overall channel communication, this led us to create this council.
CMR — Was there any concern about its failure?
Hope McCluskey — With any new idea or initiative there’s always a concern about the possibility of setbacks. However, building this out based on improvements from past programs, feedback from surveys and approaching the council from the partners’ point-of view, sets us up for success.
CMR – Were you concerned about alienating any partners not invited to participate?
Hope McCluskey — The ESET Partner Council is comprised of a strong cross-section of ESET partner types. The idea is to provide representation across the broad spectrum our partners.
CMR – Do you have a timeline/benchmarks to measure progress?
Hope McCluskey — While there are no specific KPI’s, the ultimate measurement of the success of the Council will be the overall satisfaction, retention, and revenue generation of our Partner Community.
CMR — How will ESET review and act upon any of the recommendations the Council makes?
Hope McCluskey — All recommendations are noted and reviewed with upper management. Information is also shared with the appropriate departments so they can follow-up and/or take a deeper dive and provide action as needed.