Sectigo has been expanding its channel to both increase the amount of business it does, and to broaden it out beyond its historic base in carriers and MSPs. That has included a new channel program, and a focused strategy to make partners successful.
Commercial Certificate Authority Sectigo was known as Comodo CA before it rebranded last year to remove confusion with Comodo, which it spun out of in 2017. In addition to a new brand, the company has a new go-to-market strategy. The company has had a long-standing channel business, but it has been focused more on the carrier side, with MSPs to some degree. Most of their sales have also been direct, historically. Now the company is ramping up its efforts in the enterprise channel. A year ago, they brought an executive on board to handle this business and build it out. Last month, they rolled out their inaugural channel program designed to support these partners. And in 2019, they are driving a focused go-to-market strategy that is designed to enable a select group of these partners at the outset, with plans to expand that number going forward.
When the company spun off from Comodo in late 2017, new company chairman Bill Conner emphasized the plan was to expand beyond the traditional carrier and MSP channel and build out a large channel among enterprise resellers focused on specific verticals, including the Internet of Things. That is still the plan, although the road to that destination will be built out in stages.
“I came on board tasked with the developing the enterprise channel,” said Heather Bell, Sectigo’s Vice President of Enterprise Channel Sales. “That vision from when the company was spun out is still the vision, and we are very much a channel organization. We are building out with more MSP, VAR and systems integrator partners.”
The issue with the enterprise channel though, is that it is new, and as it is being built out, Sectigo wants to keep the number of partners relatively small to optimize their chances of them being successful, and thus becoming fully engaged and enthusiastic partners
“We are not signing hundreds or thousands of partners at this time,” Bell said. “We are trying to limit competition between them, with a very integrated, hands-on alliance approach. We will eventually build on that, but we want to make sure we optimize their chances for success.”
In January, Sectigo unveiled a program designed to provide further enablement to partners. While it is technically an enhancement of an existing program, the desire both to increase the partner focus generally and enable enterprise partners specifically mean that it has been essentially rebuilt from the ground up.
“When you launch a new channel program, you have the luxury of keeping it simple,” Bell said. “Everyone wants to keep it simple, and not confuse sales reps. As things expand, there will be some more complexity, but the general premise will not change. We took a lot of partner feedback and combined it with a very simple and easy to do business with program – keep it simple; be easy to do business with; have a hot technology.”
It’s a four-tier program, segmented by revenue attainment.
“That’s the only basis for tiering at this stage of the game,” Bell said. “We will have much heavier focus on certification as the program expands.”
The program provides the expected table stakes, like deal registration, MDF, and tools to ease and boost sales and marketing initiatives, but Bell said that its not the program features that matter here, but its underlying philosophy.
“The secret sauce right now isn’t the program itself,” she said. “It’s very simple, like all good programs out there. The important part is that we are so hands-on with those partners, and are very engaged with them. In North America, we are working with under a dozen at this stage, although the numbers do extend globally, where there are more smaller regional partners.”
Sectigo wants to enable partners to sell not only the core TLS/SSL certifates, but the other certificates they offer.
“On the enterprise side, we are building out opportunities in digital certificates,” Bell said. “Historically we have been focused on SSL alone, but we have some very compelling aspects to our offering that make it a much broader conversation, with a focus on public and private certificates.” These include SMIME/Email Certificates, Signing Certificates, Certificate Manager, IoT Manager, and PCI Compliance and Website Vulnerability Scanning.
“The product is easy to use, and it’s simple as far as the sales effort goes,” Bell indicated. “But digital certificates in the enterprise are everywhere. Companies don’t usually know where their certificates are, so that they can get a handle on them. Some have tens of thousands of certifications. So it generally starts off with a simple conversation, and delves into more complicated ones. It is easy though for partners to open the door with this discussion.”
Sectigo’s last reported numbers, from last July, indicated a 27 per cent year-over-year increase in partner revenue. There are a few asterisks behind that however. On the one hand, the enterprise business was started that year pretty much from scratch, so large increases in revenues would be expected. On the other hand, the 27 per cent number also includes the legacy channel business.
The 27 per cent is a combination of our long-term channel and enterprise channel,” Bell said. “On the enterprise side, things were higher. There was also no enterprise channel program in place. Everything had to be built from the ground up. We had to build all of that. This year we will have a full year of the enterprise business up and running, and have an active channel program in place. So we expect bigger numbers to happen this year.”
Bell summed up Sectigo’s channel goals for this year succinctly.
“We want to see those big growth digits for our partners. We want to be the highest growth company that they are working with. We want to see their success. Our strategy is very focused, in order to make sure our partners are successful.”