Panda looks to double Canadian growth with channel-only strategy

Joao Xavier - Panda Canada

Joao Xavier, CEO, Panada Security Canada

Joao Xavier, CEO of Panda Security Canada, has big goals for his company’s new channel-only strategy.

Historically, the cloud-focused security vendor has been a channel-centric company, but as the company established itself in Canada, it ended up with about 70 per cent direct sales, and only about 30 per cent through the channel. But all that changes with 2011.

Xavier is adamant that this year, 100 per cent – “not 99.9 per cent, 100 per cent” – will go through the channel.

And why not – by doing so, Xavier said he expects to double the growth rate Panda would otherwise see in Canada.

“I would grow happily in 2011, but I’m convinced that by going 100 per cent indirect, with direct demand generation for our partners, we’ll bring in higher numbers,” he said.

He’s got precedent on his side – noting the company has seen great results from going all-channel all-the-time in Brazil, Germany, Spain and Sweden, among other geographies. While the company is learning from experiences elsewhere, Panda’s new Canadian channel program is an entirely made-in-Canada affair, put together by Xavier and Patti Smith, the company’s new national channel manager, who joined the company last fall.

“I personally believe a partnership with someone in the channel who lives in these corporate accounts every single day brings a real value proposition to us, and we bring them a product that they can in confidence put in their clients’ networks,” Smith said.

To support that increase in channel sales, the company is looking to massively grow its channel presence in Canada – going from in the neighbourhood of 300 Canadian partners to around 1,000 by the end of the year. The vast majority of that group will be at the business partner level, Smith said the company is eyeing getting to about 50 Elite partners and 100 Premier partners by the end of the year. To do that, the company is courting a variety of new partners, including those who haven’t built a security practice in the past. That is especially true because of the company’s longtime cloud approach, which makes its products an easy fit for partners in the managed services space.

“Anybody that’s managing a network for their clients, there’s a security opportunity for them,” Smith said.

The target market is in the corporate market and the regional partners that support that SMB audience – Xavier jokes that the national accounts are “well taken care of by our competitors.”

Here’s what else is new in the Panda Canada channel program:

  • Tiers: Before, the company had a flat structure. Now, the program includes Premier partners (requiring at least one services one sales resource go through the company’s online training) and Elite partners (requiring two resources trained as well as a quarterly joint business plan crafted with Panda.)
  • Channel resources: With the switch being flipped to direct mode, the company has Smith and nine sales reps devoted to working with supporting and developing partners old and new.
  • Marketing development funds: Previously the company didn’t offer co-op funds in Canada.
  • Cloud-based console: Supporting the company’s push towards MSPs, a new dashboard provides multi-tenant support, giving partners a look at all their clients’ managed security stances.
  • Renewal protection: Partners will get 30 per cent commissions on renewed licenses and service agreements. In fact, all renewals will now be handled through channel partners. “We literally cannot invoice directly to end users anymore,” Xavier said.

The program is still new, but Smith said it’s already being rolled out with the company’s exiting partner base, who will have the first opportunity to meet with the company, look at the new tiers and putting together business plans together.

“We’ve just done our first recruitment mailer – the portal is up, the marketing materials are available to partners,” Smith said. “The program is ready to go.”