Security: Palo Alto Networks Sharpens Channel FocusSecurity: Palo Alto Networks Sharpens Channel Focus
The security space doesn’t have a loneliness problem. Channel partners know this. So when it comes to choosing a vendor partner, many times that decision is based on the relationship those vendors can offer. Palo Alto Networks (PAN) understands this, and has spent the better part of a year and a half honing its channel program to be a better partner, emphasizing quality over quantity.
February 10, 2015
The security space doesn’t have a loneliness problem. Channel partners know this. So when it comes to choosing a vendor partner, many times that decision is based on the relationship those vendors can offer.
Palo Alto Networks (PAN) understands this, and has spent the better part of a year and a half honing its channel program to be a better partner, emphasizing quality over quantity, said Ron Myers, vice president of Worldwide Channels.
“Over the last 17 months we have put into place a solid structure, with new leadership in the Americas and APAC. We have a new distribution leader, a new channel operations group and a partner CTO, all of whom are 100 percent focused on partner enablement,” he said. “That is one of our precepts for 2015.”
The company has taken a “less is more” stance with its partners, focusing on delivering a quality relationship with its active partners and culling those who aren’t actively selling. “We’ve been shipping product for eight years and, like any organization trying to forge an identity in channel, we brought on a lot of relationships,” Myers noted. “Now we want to optimize quality and performance of partners and leverage distribution in a way we’ve never done before. We’ve also invested in … inside business channel managers to provide high-touch enablement.”
Palo Alto’s inside business channel managers are tasked with working closely with partners to identify opportunities, either direct through the company or through distribution.
“We have two areas of focus in 2015,” he said. “Enablement is No. 1. Ease of doing business is second. To do that we are spending millions on tools for our partners to drive further efficiency and productivity for them and us. We want to maximize every route to market, and that includes distribution optimization.
“We want partners to grow at 100 percent,” he added. “We had a lot of partners join the Century Club last year, but this year we want even more to join.”
The inside business channel managers will help make that happen. “Their role is to identify emerging partners wherein we knew there was high potential but because we had a limited field channel business management team we couldn’t touch them,” Myers said. “The role of the ICBM team—and we’ll hire more than 20 this year—is to work with and nurture relationships—help them understand how to get into key verticals, answer tricky pricing questions, etc.”
So far, he said, it seems to be working. “We are seeing huge lift out of players we knew we had potential with but couldn’t engage with before.”
Palo Alto’s moves to engage and build with its partners are worth noting, as the security space continues to add more players and the noise level increases. Differentiating itself by trying to be a better partner can only result in positive outcomes, for both its partners and the company.
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