Cofense – formerly PhishMe – moves to 100 per cent channel model

Cofense offers a full suite of phishing products to address the phishing threat within a collective defense model, with a focus on the enterprise.

Gordon Lawson, Senior VP of Global Sales at Cofense

Earlier this year, Cofense underwent a major transformation, rebranding itself from PhishMe to Cofense. Now it is undergoing a major transformation in its go-to-market strategy as well. They are transitioning from a hybrid model where the majority of sales were done by their direct arm, to a 100 per cent channel sales model.

“Cofense offers an anti-phishing orchestration suite, and is the only player that offers a holistic solution,” said Gordon Lawson, Senior VP of Global Sales at Cofense. “Earlier this year, we decided to rebrand, because we wanted to shift the focus away from phishing alone to the idea of Collective Defense – a more holistic solution.”

The Cofense solution set includes PhishMe, a phishing simulator that used to be called Simulator. Triage categorizes potentially malicious emails, while Intelligence, which is usually sold with Triage, has a machine learning anti-phishing capability. Cofense Reporter is an Outlook plug-in designed to make it easy for the workforce to report potentially malicious emails. The focus is on the software side, but they do have a services capability, and the enterprise, specifically the Global 1000, is their target market.

“A key thing for us is a conditioned employee reporting something that has made it through into your network,” Lawson said. “That gets us away from those metrics where an attacker is inside a network for 100 days. If the workforce is trained to assist in detecting them, it’s possible to get that time down to minutes. We recently got one off a network in 19 minutes! Reducing the amount of time that an attacker is inside a network is a key objective, and a key differentiation for us. It’s something that testing itself doesn’t address and can’t do. There are free products out there, and we ourselves have a free product for the sub-500 employee market, but they aren’t designed to do the same kind of thing as our suite.”

Lawson said that the change in go-to-market strategy wasn’t the result of a lack of efficiency in the old model.

“The success of Cofense has been well documented,” he said. “Our growth has been exceptional and we were bought by a private equity firm for $400 million. We have had a robust enterprise sales force, and  did a lot of direct deals, with the channel doing about 30 per cent of the business. We concluded though, that a focus around the channel would give us more ability to grow the company even more quickly. We already have some really strong channel partners, and working through the channel gives us so much more scale.”

Consequently, Cofense decided to switch to the all-channel model, with a particular focus on those key partners.

“We have about 300 partners globally, of whom between 150 and 200 are in North America,” Lawson stated. “However, we have between 10 to 15 key strategic partners that we really focus on.  CDW is a great partner for us, and we have at least two people onsite there every day doing onsite mapping. That’s a great example of a partner that has broad reach, and we have had significant growth with them in the three years since we started working with them. We do work with a lot of smaller VARs, but with them it’s all about the transaction, and they like to bring vendors in to do the technical sale. Our direct force will continue to be very much involved helping the channel as we go forward, with the channel being the key scaling, strategic account mapping and fulfilment arm for us.”

While Cofense is always looking to add high-value partners, the move to 100 per cent channel won’t mean signing up hordes of new ones.

“We really want to be more efficient and focused with the current partners that we have,” Lawson said. “However, if there’s a good one who wants to evangelize, we would love to chat with them. We have almost 30 people in our channel organization now, to onboard and enable new partners.”

As part of the reboot, the channel program has been relaunched, but Lawson said the changes are much more along the lines of fine tuning rather than a major overhaul.

“The discount levels, based on revenue, are still the same,” he said. “We are always looking to tweak SKUs, and just released a new bundled SKU for the channel to accelerate the close rate.”