Arctic Wolf adds tiers to partner program as part of channel growth strategy

Arctic Wolf has grown its outsourced security business to about 600 partners, managed as a single group, but with the increase in numbers, and a plan to recruit more, selectively, they are now tiering their program for the first time.

Bob Skelley, senior vice president of Global Channels at Arctic Wolf

Arctic Wolf, which began selling a turnkey Security Operations Center[SOC]-as-a-Service since early 2015, and has since complemented that with other services like managed detection and response, managed risk, managed response and  managed security awareness, has made a major structural change to its partner program. The company previously had what amounted to a single tier. Now, however, they are looking to expand their partner base, and to do that more efficiently, they have created two partner tiers for the program, an Authorized level, and a top tier dubbed Wolf Pack Partners.

“Our business is growing significantly, and we will double our business again this year,” said Bob Skelley, senior vice president of Global Channels at Arctic Wolf. “We have about 600 partners today, and we want to add a significant amount of partners to that. But while we intend to add a good volume, it won’t be a broad based massive recruitment effort. We won’t double the number of partners.”

Arctic Wolf had a formal channel program in place before, with expected enablement tools like deal registration, account mapping sessions and joint events with partners. They did all this, however, through what was essentially a single-tiered program.

“We didn’t look at our channel community as a tiered structure,” Skelley said. “What we are doing here is a real  change to the program, which I think of as an evolution. Creating two tiers will allow us to reward and recognize the more committed partnerships in the top tier.

“We have this set up for global scale and expansion,” Skelley continued. “We have made deeper investments with the top tier, because we want to invest heavily with top partners around things like business planning and engagement, not have a system where they just hand in a document. We also wanted to have a strategic path for new  or less engaged partners so that they can choose to make investments and grow.”

The Authorized tier is the entry tier. They receive the basic benefits, such as access to the Arctic Wolf Partner Portal with on-demand training courses, campaign kits, co-branded collateral, opportunity support, deal registration, internal purchase discounts, and eligibility for incentives.

“We want even the Authorized channel to be pretty engaged,” Skelley said. “We have doubled down on channel engagement. We want to Go to Market together. We want to drive demand. You can’t do that with thousands of partners, so there is a filter to make sure we aren’t overdistributed.”

Wolf Pack Partners are the higher tier, and they get extra benefits, although their focus is on qualitative benefits rather than bigger discounts. They include a named Channel Account Management Team, access to executive leadership, Quarterly Business Reviews, invitations to exclusive training summits, priority access to marketing support, and concierge demand programs.

“The benefit differentiation is more on these qualitative factors, although there are also rewards and incents for sales people of Wolf Pack Partners,” Skelley said.

Determining tier level and advancements follows three sets of business models, with the idea being to give different business models all a fair chance.

“One is purely volume,” Skelley indicated. “We expect that they will still do the training and marketing that are advancement requires for the other tiers, but they aren’t part of the formula, to keep things simple. Second is a combination of volume and value. Value is determined by things like bringing in a certain amount of opportunities, getting a certain amount of people trained, having an executive sponsor, and making a commitment to marketing. The third option is a pure value play, for emerging partners who bet their business on us. It will take them a while to get significant revenues, so instead of revenue, what matters is opportunity in pipeline.”

For MSPs, the revenue numbers are lower than for VARs.

“MSP partners are smaller, averaging under 3 million in revenue,” Skelley said. “There’s still a volume path, but its much lower, about a quarter of the VAR, and a volume and value path.”

Of Arctic Wolf’s present 600 partners, between 150 and 200 will be Wolf Pack tier.

“There will be a clear path to get there for the others,” Skelley noted.

Skelley also pointed out that Canada is a rapidly growing market for Arctic Wolf.

“Canada is a big focus for us,” he said. “We have a technical centre we are opening in Waterloo ON. We are adding new people in the Canadian marketplace, and to our channel account management team up there. We also have a growing community of partners in Canada.”