Sectigo revamps channel program to spur Web security business

Sectigo has completely remade a partner program that was only two years old because the primary focus of the company’s business has switched from selling SSL certificates to selling Web security.

Michele Campbell, Sectigo’s Vice President of Global Channel Programs

Sectigo has announced that its new Secure Partner Program has gone live. Its focus is much changed from the old program, reflecting the evolution of the company’s business towards Web security and the desire to support partners who are also moving in that direction.

Sectigo was once known as Comodo CA – as in Certificate Authority – before a 2018 rebranding, and that name reflected the fact that the digital certificate business, now typically termed digital identity management, was the company’s core business. The partner program that was implemented in January 2019 reflected that this legacy business was still Sectigo’s focus. By mid 2020, that had changed.

“Sectigo had developed a suite of Web security products and wanted to create a Go-to-Market for them,” said Michele Campbell, Sectigo’s Vice President of Global Channel Programs, who has previously built channel programs at Juniper, FireEye, and SonicWall. “The reason I joined the company was for this purpose. So we refreshed the Go-to-Market, and augmented it with a partner program. It’s really a whole partner program refresh, with a focus on Web security and a whole new Go-to-Market strategy.”

In the new program, Sectigo’s approximately 1200 channel partners are organized into what is now a six-tier program – up from four in the old one. Most of the partners are Authorized, with those above the long tail being organized in ascending Specialist, Preferred, Trusted, Elite, and Ambassador tiers, with the top Ambassador tier having just under ten partners.

“Six tiers is high, and is certainly the most I’ve ever had in a program, but we do have a unique partner landscape with each getting something specific to them,” Campbell said. “Everything has a swimlane. We will review it all in a year or two, but for now, we think it’s the best way to protect our partner base.”

The top three tiers require specific training and certifications, although all partnersare eligible for the training. All of this is offered through Sectigo University, which has over 70 specific sales and technical courses. No equivalent of this online training existed in the old program.

“There was no formal curriculum online until I joined the company,” Campbell indicated. “It was a lot of one-on-one personal training with select partners. Everything in Sectigo University is new, and it’s clear from the high number of partners who have logged in since this went live that they have been looking for that.”

Laikin Ragsdale, Sectigo’s Director of Global Channel Marketing

“Training wasn’t a priority in the old program because many of the partners were just selling SSL certificates, and they didn’t need training for that,” said Laikin Ragsdale, Sectigo’s Director of Global Channel Marketing. “With the Web security, there’s a lot more training necessary.”

A new partner pricing model has also been implemented as part of the program.

“It autocalculates pricing by the contract and the value provided by the partner,” Campbell said. “It’s all about striving to create a more predictable environment. We know that there will always be requests for special pricing, but we wanted to create a basic foundation, which we didn’t have before.”

MDF funds are available automatically to partners in the top three tiers, and are available for other tiers on request.

“It’s a very healthy MDF bucket,” Campbell said.

Getting the top three tiers of partners to use their MDF isn’t an issue, Ragsdale added.

“We have established personal relationships with the majority of partners in the top three tiers, and are heavily involved with these activities,” she said.

Sectigo had a rudimentary partner portal before, which has been replaced with a new one designed by a Partner Relationship Management company that Campbell has had good success with in the past.

“The old portal we had was essentially an order management system,” Campbell indicated. “We have augmented it, so that it now provides all the sales and marketing collateral of the Partner Resource Center as well as Sectigo University.”

Sectigo thinks that the program’s change in focus will deliver additional value as more partners augment their SSL business with Web security.

“Many SSL partners are moving in that direction,” Campbell said. “There’s a saturation in that market. We have been talking to a lot of the top tier partners in SSL who are interested in expanding beyond that, and with this program, we provide the tools and the resources to make that easier for them.”