Network security vendor WatchGuard is now allowing partners to reach top-tier status on its partner programme without having to sell its flagship firewall product.
Its global channel boss, Mark Romano, (pictured) told CPI that WatchGuard's "three-door" partner programme is a push to get the channel to sell more of its two newer portfolio lines: secure WI-FI and multifactor authentication (MFA).
"I can take my MFA products, my secure Wi-Fi products, and talk to a reseller that may sell a competitor's firewall. And they'd be very happy taking my products, and keep their current firewall vendor," Romano said.
"This will allow us to now move our products into a wider dispersion in the partner communities."
Romano added that it's a foot-in-the-door approach gives WatchGuard the opportunity to upsell its own firewall further down the line.
To encompass partners who want to come to WatchGuard for its newer offerings, Romano has organised the Seattle-based vendor's partner programme to open up the Gold-level tier to resellers and MSPs without selling its core firewall product.
"If you come on as a silver partner, it doesn't matter which product direction you come in on, and pass the certification and become specialised. At that level, you get a five per cent discount.
"If you become specialised at gold level, you get a ten per cent discount."
He added that getting levelled up through one of the three WatchGuard "partner doors" enables you to have the same incentives in the other two product lines.
"What we've done is make it easy for the partner to make the move across our products lines. So if you came in as an MFA reseller, you'll not only get the discount on that product line, you'll get the same discount on our other product lines.
"When you get to the rebate side of things, where we do have a sales goal, your rebate actually goes up the more products you are certified on."
The managed services play
Romano was also clear that he believes that this approach will help his existing resellers make their transition into managed services more effectively, as well as recruit new MSPs.
"What we're doing really provides us with a much better trained channel community. That was essential for the MSP business, because now I've got a reseller, who is essentially the trusted advisor for midmarket, but they also need to be able to service that product effectively and manage the entire infrastructure.
"Going into 2020, we're going to be well suited for bringing on new partners through the variety of product lines, but also managed services.
He added that WatchGuard are also giving resellers the ability to purchase and sell monthly.
"That way, they're not putting out a large capital expense as a reseller," he said.
"In 2020, we're also working on a brand new programme, where we'll start to work with our distributors to be able to service their resellers in a similar manner, but in a much more month-to-month cash flow [model]. So they'll actually be able to buy through operational expense from the distributor."
The channel remembers
Romano also reaffirmed his commitment to stay in the mid-market space.
He said that watching the failed attempts by some of his enterprise-focused rivals backs up his belief that mid-market MSPs and resellers want more attention from a mid-market vendor.
"We are constantly looking at the larger players that usually play in the enterprise space trying to come down in the mid-market. We keep an eye on it every time they do that... But they usually disappear a year later."
"We are a 100 per cent channel company, we sell nothing directly. Everything goes to two-tier distribution.
"I think that's very different to the enterprise. An enterprise player is always looking to see ‘how can I increase my profitability?' So very often they will take accounts direct. Now I've been in this business a long time, and I'll say that channel partners have a longer memory than any of us put together.
he added: "If you are not consistent with your channel partners long-term; they will remember you. And that's where I think the enterprise players have a problem."
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