New certification program, expanded distribution key AVG SMB strategy

New AVG SMB chief Fred Gerritse recently talked with ChannelBuzz about the impact of recent management changes on the company’s strategy and Canadian presence, and about how AVG is now looking to enhance the markets for its SMB solutions and the skills of the partners who sell them.

Fred Gerritse_GM_AVG Business

Fred Gerritse, GM for AVG Business

The last several months have seen considerable change in AVG’s commercial business. Longtime AVG exec Mike Foreman, who was most recently SVP and General Manager of AVG Business, left the company, along with a significant number of other executives, including the Ottawa-based AVG Business Vice President, Americas, Marco LaVecchia. Foreman’s replacement is Fred Gerritse, who has served long stints at three companies, starting with Compaq, where he was a sales manager for ten years, Dutch-based distributor Copaco, where he was Managing Director for six years, and most recently Cisco. Gerritse spent eight years there, including six as Director Partner Organisation and Commercial Business in EMEA, before leaving to join AVG.

Gerritse is looking to improve AVG’s SMB performance by making partners more efficient, and able to be more effective as trusted advisors to customers.

“We need to deliver simplicity,” he said. “I want our channel to become more AVG security experts. Partners need to be able to make the consultative sale, and to do that, we need to help them become more of a trusted advisor to their customers. That’s the idea behind the new partner certification process – to make them the trusted advisor for SMBs.”

This new partner certification, open to both AVG Business partners and distributors, will roll out in April.

“We provided training before, but this is a new certification program which is linked to our discount level,” Gerritse said. “It has a very efficient and systematic approach to skills development, and is offered in two flavours – technical and sales – and in modules of around 20 minutes.” It is also available in multiple languages.

Certification has two levels – Fundamental and Advanced. Fundamental certification will be required for all partners, and will require an investment of three hours of both sales training and technical training.

Gerritse said that the new certification program will reward partners on top of existing programmatic benefits.

“With this program, we provide additional discounts based on the level of training achieved within the partner organizations,” he said.

Gerritse is also looking to enhance partner efficiency by stepping up AVG’s distribution presence, particularly through additional value-added distributors, which will now let AVG’s own account managers focus on their top partners.

“With our new Partner Sales Motion, the Partner Account Managers focus on our largest partners, while the long tail of distribution addresses the rest,” he said. “This year, you will see AVG building up the distribution side in Europe and North America, to provide partners with more flexibility of buying through AVG or distribution.” They recently signed on in the UK with CMS Distribution, the largest independent distributor in the U.K. and Ireland.

In North America, they currently have Ingram Micro, SYNNEX and Lifeboat, but that’s about to change.

“What’s slightly different compared to our previous setup is we will have more focus on distribution,” Gerritse said. “In North America we will be adding more specialized distributors. We believe CloudCare and Managed Workplace need more support. Broadliners are good to expand reach, but I think for CloudCare and Managed Workplace, you need value-added specialized distributors. We are finalizing engagements now, and before the end of the quarter, you will likely see two more in North America, with one or two more in the pipeline for Q2.”

Managed Workplace’s presence is also being expanded by broadening out its sales centres.

“Managed Workplace is our most successful product now,” Gerritse said. “It’s growing double digits, but we see huge potential to grow it more. Before, the global sales had been only from our Ottawa office. Now it is being expanded to other sales regions as well.”

At the same time, Gerritse stressed that selling Managed Workplace out of other parts of the globe will not affect its commitment to the new Global Center of Excellence for Managed Workplace in the greater Ottawa area, or to the Canadian market, where working with the larger MSPs and MSSPs here remains a top priority.

“We have no strategy to decrease the number of people in Canada, where we have a lot of good people on the team,” he said. “We are investing heavily in our Managed Workplace solutions, and actively working with those teams to build out the Centre of Excellence. At a certain point in time, we will unveil the road map. In the second half of the year, there will be a much more detailed road map.”

Some key updates to the AVG CloudCare endpoint security solution were just announced.

AVG CloudCare central dashboard big“This new release of CloudCare is centred around AVG 2016 integration,” said Ryan Vallee, Senior Product Manager at AVG Technologies Canada. “We added new advanced policy settings to grow the management capabilities for partners to manage customer security. CloudCare now also has an advanced scanning engine for better protection and faster scanning times. New cloud-based real-time outbreak detection is proactive, and better equips partners to identify the newest malware 24×7, even before samples are analyzed in our labs. This provides the highest level of protection to our SMB customers.”