Symantec sets course for unified partner program

Marc Andrews, head of worldwide sales at Symantec

Marc Andrews, head of worldwide sales at Symantec

LOS ANGELES — Symantec partners (and former Blue Coat partners) who came to Partner Engage here hoping to walk away with details of how the newly-combined company’s partner programs will come together will have to wait a little bit longer, but did get some strong hints as to the direction things will go.

While the integration of the former Symantec and the former Blue Coat has by all accounts gone very quickly, the company said it is opting for stability in combining both its channel program and its sales go-to-market, with executives setting an April 1, 2017 — not coincidentally, the first day of the company’s next fiscal year — date for the rollout of a combined partner program.

“We have two programs today, and by April 1, we will have a single, combined partner program,” Marc Andrews, head of worldwide sales told attendees. “We want to take the best of both worlds and create an exciting program for you, and we’ll provide a rapid integration.”

John Thompson, vice president of global partner sales at Symantec, outlined some broad directional hints for where the program will be headed. Thompson describes a single program to address the very broad portfolio, although different segments of the program will be gated differently. Thompson said there will be a Core Security classification where partners advance by revenue levels alone, while an Enterprise Security segment will be gated by a combination of revenue, competencies and technical accreditations.

Thompson said the company will also “selectively extend” the tech support program it has offered on the Symantec side, whereby partners with appropriate levels of support abilities are able to take on level one and level two support calls, and in doing so, earn greater margins. Thompson said the program “won’t be open to everyone, but if’s something we want to talk about with partners with strong services offerings.”

The new program will also feature a unified opportunity registration system, which will move rebates from the backend to the front-end, and will add co-selling plans in the enterprise segment, Thompson said. The company will also implement strengthened incumbency protection.

“If you’re doing well and renewal rates are strong, you should be differentiated instead of allowing drive-by shootings,” Thompson said.

In a conversation with, Andrews said one overarching theme of the new program will be “mass simplification” with the integration of the two programs.

“Complexity drives unhappy experiences. It drives a massive amount of cost,” Andrew said, adding that “we know how to get nimble, but it’s a few hard yards to get through.”

Until the new fiscal year, the company’s internal sales force will also remain separated, with legacy Symantec and Blue Coat sales teams “remaining in their swim lanes.” However, Andrews said, the company has implemented a “significant incentive” for the two teams to collaborate and work together. That incentive program, Andrews told, will seek to encourage both cross-selling, and cross-pollination of knowledge and skills, in preparation for the sales team being integrated. The plans for that combined sales effort will be in place by the end of December, Andrews added, and have been started already, with a recent mid-year sales kick-off event.

Andrews said that the very different nature of the sales and channel efforts around the two company — deep networking focus on the Blue Coat side, and deep security focus on the Symantec side — means that there will be some effort required for both internal and partner staff to get fully educated across all the offerings now in the Symantec arsenal. That means enablement and education offerings will be key, he said. The company must move quickly to get products as interconnected as possible, he added, so that partners can get used to the new offering lineup and go deeper with the company’s strategy.

“Where our partners are concerned, the faster we integrate these solutions, the easier it will be for them to follow,” Andrews said.

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