Symantec Pivots Channel Toward High-Touch

Symantec Americas channel chief John Eldh

Symantec Americas channel chief John Eldh

Symantec Corp. is pivoting back to the channel, realigning its partner program to focus on high-value partners, solution providers with specific technology specializations and high-touch field engagements with sales. The goal: to increase consistent organic growth through the channel and reduce conflict with solution providers in the field.

The security and storage management specialist announced the changes last week at its annual Partner Engage conference, where solution providers heard from CEO Steve Bennett and channel chief John Eldh on the need for and logic behind breaking down barriers between partners and product groups, and the need for deeper field engagement.

“Our new strategy focuses on sustained partner growth, delivering the innovative technologies, superior service, and differentiated value our customers demand. We’re committed to making it easier to do business with us, and we promise to do a much better job helping you build the competencies you need to support our customers and grow your business,” writes Bennett in a letter to Symantec partners.

Overall, Symantec aims for 5 percent organic revenue growth and 30 percent operating margins. The company recognizes these goals will take several years to achieve, and that working through partners is the only means of reaching these objectives.

“We had partners transacting up and down the stack because we didn’t offer clear guidance or encourage them where to focus, nor was our incentive mechanism geared for anything else,” said Garrett Jones, vice president of global channel operations at Symantec.

Additionally, Symantec is changing its sales compensation model to incent its teams to work with and through partners on field prospecting and customer engagements.

Many of the operational aspects of Symantec’s Global Channel Strategy remain works in progress. The company is still working on partner participation requirements and engagement models. Symantec representatives say more details will come after the first of the year.

All of the program changes come under the general umbrella of Symantec 4.0, the reformation program initiated by Bennett to transform the software company and return it to growth. The program was officially launched in January 2013, and changes have been trickling out since.

The changes and engagement modeling isn’t necessarily new in concept. Symantec has a long tradition of focusing on specializations and core competencies, choosing to back solution providers that have demonstrated knowledge in specific technology and market segments. In the background of Symantec 4.0, the company has been looking for ways to reduce the number of partners with which it works, based both on specializations and geography. The reason: Fewer partners are easier to cover with a high-touch field engagement model.

The need for stimulating channel sales is palpable — Symantec’s financial performance under Bennett has been inconsistent. In the second quarter of this year, Symantec grew as it focused more attention on enterprise products and less on PC-based antivirus products. However, the most recent quarter saw an increase in profits and decrease in revenue, as even Symantec cannot escape the drag of the declining PC market.