Education can be the value-add MSPs bring to security offerings to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Tanya Alfonso, Chief Revenue Officer

February 28, 2024

4 Min Read
Partner relationship through education
REDPIXEL.PL/Shutterstock

As the strain on resources (both financial and human) exerts pressure on corporate budgets, companies are finding it especially challenging to rely solely on their talent pool when it comes to securing their most valuable assets against cyberattacks. The needs are great, the resources are few — and bad actors are relentless. To cope, organizations are looking to outsource their security, whether it be partnering with a security solution provider or purchasing specific products and services to help them prevent and mitigate cyberattacks.

While this scenario creates a tremendous opportunity for channel partners looking to strengthen their portfolios and add value for existing clients, as well as attract new business, it also presents a "seize the day" opportunity for security solution vendors hoping to expand their channel networks.

Winning the hearts, minds and business of channel partners isn't just a matter of showing up with a great product, however. Security vendors also will be on the hook for value-add in the coming year and will need to up their game to set themselves apart from the multitude of other solution and service vendors jockeying for the same dollar.

Race to Educate

The evolution of cyberthreats knows no bounds. And now, thanks to the application of AI in everything from spear-phishing to ransomware, keeping up with (forget staying ahead of) emerging threat tactics has almost become a game of wait-and-see for security vendors. For channel partners who might already be offering a multitude of cybersecurity solutions targeting a wide variety of attack types, staying on top of the latest threats, as well as emerging prevention and mitigation strategies is a near-impossible task.

As such, channel partners will increasingly turn to vendors for guidance. I believe that in the coming year the winners will be those vendors that can capture partner mindshare the fastest through both education and enablement.

  • Industry insights have an impact. Winning the channel partner race will involve more than a few well-designed data sheets. In-depth training on the specific security products and solutions you offer, along with demos and simulations that ensure your partners can effectively utilize and sell these solutions will continue to be a mainstay in 2024. But educational offerings need to go beyond simply teaching partners about the solutions you sell to providing thought leadership pertaining to your particular security niche, be it IoT, distributed denial of service (DDoS), cloud, threat intelligence or zero-day, to name a few.

And as an additional value-add, vendors who are able to provide regular industry updates with insightful and impactful news on changes to compliance standards (e.g., GDPR, HIPAA) and industry-specific regulations will see benefits.

  • Remote learning isn't going away. Well before companies adopted at-home work policies, channel partners (or sales professionals) were set up with flexible working environments. Amplified by today's new normal on work from home, education opportunities need to be accessible with more virtual workshops and interactive webinars that cover the latest trends and best practices, along with hands-on exercises that address emerging threats and technologies.

Online libraries also need to be expanded with a robust offering of on-demand materials with everything from co-branded whitepapers and e-books to case studies and research reports that take a deep dive into the threats vendors are seeing, the products they offer, and that support partner initiatives.

  • Bespoke learning. Not everyone learns the same way or at the same pace. Vendors should consider offering tailored educational tracks based on their partners' expertise levels that will allow them to progress at their own pace while focusing on their specific areas of interest or need.

Vendors might also want to consider taking a page from Reddit and creating collaborative learning forums and discussion boards, or communities where their partners can interact, share insights and learn from each other's experiences.

  • Education today for a strong channel tomorrow. Empowering channel partners through the types of education programs that teach them about the complexities not only of your product but the overall market will arm them with the much-needed skills required to address their customers' needs and challenges.

Shared Benefits

Supporting this foundational learning with the tools and resources necessary to apply in a practical way will help deliver mutually beneficial outcomes.

It's been said that education helps us become better versions of ourselves. From where I stand, there's no reason that can't be applied to the vendor-partner relationship.

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VARs/SIsMSPs

About the Author(s)

Tanya Alfonso

Chief Revenue Officer, Corero

Tanya Alfonso is chief revenue officer at Corero Network Security, where she is responsible for managing global sales functions. She previously worked at Impreva and held a variety of executive roles at 247.ai, ADP, IBM, Lenovo and Monsanto. She holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and a bachelor's degree from McGill University.

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