Kaspersky formalizes partner program levels

Kaspersky North America channel chief John Murdock

Kaspersky North America channel chief John Murdock

MIAMI – Kaspersky Lab introduced an overhaul of its North American partner program, with changes that bring it inline with the same partner program “framework” the company has already introduced in Europe and will soon introduce around the world.

Under the new program, requirements and benefits are clearly defined for Platinum, Gold, and Silver levels, whereas previously partners were tiered on a more ad hoc basis. The program will be largely delineated by revenue level clips for each level, North American channel chief John Murdock said.

“We had a loose tiering structure that we never really fully leveraged, and we decided to stick with the same tier names as before, but to formalize the incentives and benefits of the program,” Murdock told ChannelBuzz.ca in an interview at the company’s North American Partner Conference here.

The top two tiers will be required to do business plans with Kaspersky. Platinum partners will do business plans at least quarterly with Kaspersky, while Gold partners will do such plans at least once a year. Those plans will go a long way to determine how marketing development funds and plans are spent. Channel marketing chief Jon Witlock said the company’s MDF remains discretionary, and that the company will gravitate towards high ROI opportunities.

Business plans will cover both sales and growth goals, both new business and renewals. While business plans will be mandatory for the top two partner tiers, Murdock said the company “will take a plan from any partner.”

“Being silver shouldn’t preclude you from having great alignment with us in the areas where you want to have alignment,” he said. “There are addition benefits to being Platinum or Gold, but Silvers are certainly not excluded.”

While the partner program is primarily based around volume, the company did announce it will begin to introduce technical specializations during the second half of 2015, with areas of specialization slated to include Endpoint Security, System Management, Virtualization, Mobile, and xSP. Murdock said partners who get specialized will get “additional profitability based on their expertise” through additional incentives and margins on products and solutions in the specialized area. Whitlock said the specializations “provide a basis for us to all grow together.”

Murdock said he anticipates one or two core specializations to debut over the course of the third quarter of the year, with new ones debuting in the fourth quarter that will “be more forward-facing,” or based on getting partners involved in new growth areas and new products the company will be focusing on at the time.

The program framework has already been introduced for the company’s European partners, but Murdock stressed the word famework, saying the goal is to have a consistent program worldwide, but with differences (particularly around volume) in details from theatre to theatre. That said, clip levels will be done on a theatre basis, and not at a national level, although Murdock said the selected tiers should be attainable for partners in the smaller Canadian market.

“We didn’t pick a million-dollar tier or anything that would exclude our Canadian partners entirely from the top tiers,” he said.

The company also outlined changes to its partner loyalty and rewards program. While it will still offer incentives to reps, the program will now also offer partner owners points for their sales of Kaspersky products. Owners can then decide whether to provide the merchandise and travel earned through points amongst sales reps or “do whatever is appropriate in their business.”

Kaspersky has also revamped its program for managed service providers in the wake of the launch last month of Service Pack 1 of its MSP-focused offering. That release eliminates some barriers in terms of how it scales for larger MSPs, and in turn opens the door for more MSPs to come on board.

“We’re putting a lot of focus there for partners who want to build around services,” Murdock said. “We have 30 or 40 MSP partners in the Americas at a variety of levels of volume, and we had a couple of good wins last year with some mid-sized and larger MSPs.”

Murdock said he expected growth in the MSP program to come both from new MSP partners and from existing Kaspersky partners who are themselves looking to ramp up their services offerings.

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