Webroot reworks channel program to support partner-driven model

Webroot sees a real differentiator in the marketing and sales toolkit it provides partners

Darren Niller, Senior Director of Worldwide Alliance & Channel Marketing at Webroot.

Darren Niller, Senior Director of Worldwide Alliance & Channel Marketing at Webroot.

Two and a half years ago, security software vendor Webroot reworked its solution offerings and replaced its old signature-based offerings with cloud-based, real-time Internet threat detection. Now the company has announced an entirely new channel program, the Webroot Channel Edge Reseller Program, designed to provide tools and resources to help its partners take business away from their competitors.

“Webroot has been in business since 1997, but two and a half years ago we effectively relaunched the company,” said Darren Niller, Senior Director of Worldwide Alliance & Channel Marketing at Webroot. “We were being outflanked by the cybercriminal community, and our products, like other security vendors’ products, were no longer effective against them. So we set a course to deliver solutions using the cloud to deliver solutions that would work, and end-of-lifed the products we had been selling, except those in the consumer space, which were substantially changed.”

The new offerings initially meant that Webroot sold more direct than it had in the past.

“Before this transformation, we sold mainly channel, but when we launched the new solutions, we sold a lot more direct than we had before,” Niller said.

The company found, however, that pretty much on its own, the channel part of their business grew to become an overwhelming majority, and accounted for most of Webroot’s success.

“Within four quarters, 80% of our business was growing through the channel, a number that is up to 95% today,” Niller noted. “Since we were cloud based, we had particular success in the MSP space.”

The growth of the channel made a major revision of Webroot’s channel program mandatory.

“We had a program in place, but it was not formally defined, and was not tiered out, so everyone was in the same bucket,” Niller said. “We wanted to do something on the program side that complemented the products, which we believed were innovative and revolutionary.”

The new program now has two levels — Registered and Elite

“We have north of 1600 partners today, 1200 of which have come in in the last 18 months,” Niller said. “Less than 5% would fall into Elite category today, and even with all our new incentives, I wouldn’t expect that to go beyond 10%. These are the partners who are advocates of Webroot, who are willing to make a commitment – our partners are thrilled about our products.”

The key thing, however, about the new program isn’t so much its structure as the philosophy behind it, and the sales tools and marketing resources it now makes available to partners.

“The program is designed to accompany our transition to a partner-driven model,” Niller said. A 100% channel model requires partners who can sell well, and Webroot believes that the new Channel Edge Toolkit it has built for partners will give them an edge other vendors can’t provide.

‘We built a resource center with toolkit that provides us with real diffentiation,” he added. “It contains all the materials for them to become effective at selling, as well as technical training, and how to use all our cobranded material to create demand.”

Niller acknowledged that many vendors provide such collateral, but he said they had put a lot of work into this, and that the result is better than anything else out there.

“It really is better than the competition, and it is very easy for partners to consume,” he said. It contains co-branded emails, ‘set it and forget it’ web syndication, call scripts and emails, and sales support, including battle cards, which are available to both Registered and Elite partners. Only Elite partners have access to a Qualified Leads Rewards program, a net-new addition to the program.

Other elements of the Toolkit, a mobile toolkit and social syndication, are in development.

“The social syndication are things we have tweeted or put on LinkedIn or into our community, and we will push them out to subscribing partner sites,” Niller said.

Elite partners are also eligible for quarterly business planning and review, speaking engagements and joint seminars, and market expansion programs.

“Market expansion programs – MDF – is something that we were doing on only a limited and case by case basis before,” Niller said.

Both Registered and Elite partners are eligible for the technical training Webroot offers, including pre-sales engineering support and product training. In addition, Elite partners qualify for a dedicated Channel Account Manager.