Guest Column | July 2, 2018

How One Software Company Built A Channel Partner Program

A conversation with Tom Hance, Cavirin

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According to a survey of more than 250 CISOs, security is still a key issue when it comes to adopting a hybrid cloud architecture. Armed with that knowledge, Cavirin announced in late-May the launch of its global Cavirin Connect Partner Program, designed to accelerate global growth, empowers resellers, system integrators, and MSPs to deliver cutting-edge cloud security to their customers.

Tom Hance, Cavirin’s Vice President of Worldwide Field Operations, spoke with Software Business Growth about the Cavirin Connect Partner Program, from the factors behind the decision to build out a channel sales model to working with VARs to the impact the launch will have on the channel world as it relates to hybrid cloud adoption.

Q: What did your channel program look like before you started this journey?

Hance: We previously did not have a channel program since the previous generation product was not all that ‘consumable’ by the channel. Our new product, released at the end of 2017, is focused on ease of deployment and operation. For example, the main workflow is wizard-based, requiring very little training.

Q: How do you ensure partners get off to a good start once the partnership agreement is signed?

Hance: We’ve spent time developing a best-in-class onboarding and channel management infrastructure that is based on Allbound as the PRM (Partner Relationship Management) platform, as well as building the collateral, training, and differentiation that will help a new channel partner quickly differentiate their offerings with Cavirin.

Q: Did you have to hire any new positions when making this transition?

Hance: As noted, we’re starting from scratch. Last fall we hired our first CAM, and our commercial team is well-versed in our partner messaging and is very familiar with partner-led deals. Our enterprise team has also worked with the channel as part of a high-touch fulfillment model.

Q: What has been your best tool for recruiting new channel partners?

Hance: This has not been a problem, as partners in the security space are looking for new ways to differentiate their offerings, moving away from primarily hardware-based offerings. Our product in the cloud security space meets this need and is also tied to an area of high growth — enterprise migration to the public cloud. As part of our launch, we have eight partners quoted, spanning NA, EMEA, and APAC.

Q: In what ways is working with VARs different than having a direct sales team?

Hance: The two are not incompatible, since our stated strategy is to eventually move to a 100 percent channel fulfillment model. This will consist of partner-led, lower-touch engagements for the commercial space, as well as a high-touch model for larger enterprises. Our channel strategy also ties into our focus on global MSSPs.

Q: What are some of the challenges you have overcome since launching your VAR program?

Hance: Since we’re just launching it now, we’ve not identified any show-stoppers. Our team has deep channel experience, and brings to the table to wisdom not to repeat problems they may have experienced in the past.

Q: What advice do you have for other software companies who are considering making the shift to a channel sales model?

Hance: This of course requires planning, and as we noted, we’re in a good spot since we can start with a clean slate and also are transitioning to a new product line. However, important elements include deal registration, clear rules of engagement, a focus on training and equipping the channel with the proper differentiated messaging, and a PRM. In essence, creating a great onboarding and day-2 experience that causes a given channel partner to want to work with you … a win-win for both.