September 27, 2022
By Jacques Lopez
Secure software is a growing priority for organizations. In fact, the application security market is projected to reach $22.6 billion by 2026, up from $5.5 billion in 2019* This represents a significant opportunity for partners looking to build their practices and establish themselves for future success.
It’s an increasingly crowded market for partners. So how can they enhance their position and achieve sustainable growth? To optimize performance across core functional areas of the business through strategic partnerships with application security vendors, partners should consider three key principles.
#1 – Achieve Go-to-Market Alignment
A successful partnership begins with a mutually developed and agreed-upon go-to-market plan that benefits both parties. This plan becomes the framework, which directs marketing activities and identifies the milestones for success. Subsequently, alignment between teams throughout the planning process, with buy-in at the executive leadership level, is crucial.
Partners and vendors should identify goals and objectives that leverage shared resources to optimize marketing efforts and drive sales pipeline. It’s important to ensure the results of the campaign are in alignment with a “win” for both sides. This helps set the correct priorities for focus.
Agreement upon key metrics and performance indicators to measure success and highlight customer wins serves as validation of the “Better Together” story. Staying focused on priorities will ensure team collaboration throughout the customer journey from initial lead identification, qualification, discovery, trial, and adoption. Quarterly business reviews help identify what is working well, along with areas for improvement and future marketing investment.
#2 – Enable Teams to Be Successful in Their Efforts
A vendor’s partner program must include a comprehensive team enablement program that builds skills and knowledge, as well as providing best practices to streamline and optimize processes. This can be accomplished by implementing a role-based training and certification program that delivers ongoing education and access to security competencies aligned to industry requirements. A role-based training program should feature curriculum paths that provide updated content for sales, marketing, technical, and services teams to deliver the most pertinent information to the right people at the right time.
These best practices should be reinforced through customized, ongoing tools and resources to drive self-sufficiency, allowing partners to internalize the vendor story and apply it to their role in the organization. The result: partners benefit from an enablement program that is repeatable and scalable, educates the team, and improves ability to leverage the vendor story as appropriate for their business model. Partner teams will, in turn, become subject matter experts for their vendor’s solutions and earn trusted advisor status with customers to build long-term relationships.
#3 – Ensure Ongoing Engagement and Collaboration
Partner management teams should engage regularly with their vendor peers to leverage key solution updates and market insights. This can help improve overall win rates, identify expansion opportunities, and continue integration of the vendor in their customer value proposition. Having access to regular vendor product roadmap updates enables the team to understand the vendor product vision and strategy, along with their differentiators in the market, improving their ability to sell against competitors.
Partners should leverage surveys, advisory boards, focus groups, partner conferences, and regular meetups to share ideas and recommendations with their vendor. For application security vendors, the goal is to capture real-time feedback—with partners representing the voice of the customer—to gain a better understanding of emerging market requirements. This gives the vendor a chance to incorporate feedback into future product planning discussions, leading to greater customer value.
To maximize their market reach (application security platform + partner application security services + technology integration partner solutions), partners should also capitalize on the full suite of solution functionality and capabilities available in their vendor’s entire partner ecosystem. Application security can be a complicated landscape and this alignment is important to mutual understanding of the differentiators and value created through this “better together” story. Account mapping sessions with the vendor then become much more focused and the paths to provide customer value begin to surface more organically.
For partners, there is immense potential to grow their AppSec security practices over the next few years. By working closely with their application security vendor, they can harness the power of the entire technology stack. Partners should view their vendors as strategic allies and look beyond their solution offerings to realize the full potential of their investments. Adopting a teaming approach in these technology partnerships paves the way for ongoing success. In the words of Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”
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