Top Gun 51 Profile: Trend Micro’s Jeff Van Natter Sees Distributors as Key to Reaching New Partners
At the beginning of the year, Trend Micro promoted Jeff Van Natter to director of the company’s distribution channel. Van Natter, who has been with the company for eight years, is well-known among the major IT distributors. His reputation and achievements landed him on this year’s Top Gun 51 list. In an interview with Channel Futures, he explains why he believes distributors will continue to play an important role for Trend Micro as it looks to expand its partner ecosystem.
Channel Futures: In your new role as director, what are some of the key actions or initiative that you’ve taken in this past year?
Jeff Van Natter: My focus this whole year really has been to fully utilize all the capabilities that our distributors have, namely utilizing the solutions engineers (SEs) of our distributors. We’ve trained and certified each of our commercial distributors’ SEs. We did that because I know our partners have relationships with and trust their distributors. When an SE and a disty tell a partner that they should take a look at a new security solution, the partners usually listen.
CF: How extensive is this training?
JVN: Our focus this year is meant to have our disty SEs deliver as many demos of our solutions to their partner community as possible, particularly to those that aren’t Trend Micro partners, but who are partners of the distributor. We wanted to tell them our story and show them our solution stack. So, we’ve also gone out to the field to where our partners reside in their local geo to get them sales and technical enablement. Instead of always asking partners to come to our headquarters, we went out to the field to see them. And all that was done through our distributors. We call those events disty-sponsored, demo-ready sessions. Our disties created the invites and the registration links.
CF: Who did they invite?
JVN: They sent them to their reseller partners, some might have been Trend Micro partners, mostly not. These are folks we are looking to bring on to add us to their solution portfolio. They gave us use of their offices so we could deliver these half-day sales and technical enablement sessions to the partners. You can’t buy that kind of partnership. It’s really about utilizing the disties’ capabilities around the technical side to communicate and demo it to the partner community.
CF: From these events, what percentage of those non-Trend Micro partners do you see perhaps becoming partners or what other results came from it?
JVN: We’ve given close to 350 demos to VARs’ SEs this year. That means 350 new VAR SEs have seen our solution stack, and all of those demos were delivered by our distributor. That wasn’t something our Trend Micro SEs have time to do, as they are busy in the field selling with customers and partners. Our distributors did all that work. They built content and messaged it to them. The number 350 was very impressive and it’s more than I…