PGP partners with Avnet to boost channel play

Encryption vendor PGP announces distribution agreement with Avnet Technology Solutions, bolstering its efforts to improve its channel program.

Encryption vendor PGP Corp. gave its overhauled channel program a significant shot in the arm today, announcing a distribution agreement with Avnet Technology Solutions, a large global supplier of IT hardware, software and services.

PGP said the agreement should bring in new channel partners, and benefit its existing partners through expanded sales opportunities and ATS' strong portfolio of sales, marketing and technology support programs.

ATS is a division of electronic components and computer products distribution giant Avnet. It describes itself as a product "distributor," promoting VARS to present multi-product solutions to business problems, rather than simply pushing point products. ATS said its model makes for a more compelling pitch to potential customers and simplifies the task for sales reps, who are buried by details of hundreds of products.

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"They can't remember everything," said Gavin Miller ATS vice president and general manager of technology infrastructure solutions. "So, our focus has been to wrap multiple products that are complimentary to provide solutions."

The announcement comes as PGP continues its efforts to improve its channel, which has grown to 80% of sales. The encryption vendor said it has done more selective recruiting, and has beefed up "whiteboard" training through its RevenueReady program to give VARs more comprehensive ownership of the sales cycle, making pricing easier for sales people. The new MarketReady Program is Web portal with tools to create co-branded product marketing materials and lead generation campaigns.

The company has also developed a scoring mechanism to measure partner performance.

PGP has also improved deal registration, giving channel partners a reasonable shot at closing a sale without getting into a price war with competing resellers. PGP response time was too slow, conceded Lee Finck, PGP's senior director for worldwide channel sales. The company now has a 24-hour SLA for approving or rejecting a deal registration.

In addition, PGP has changed it partner manager program. Previously, managers were assigned to a few high-value partners, which left lower-tier resellers neglected and didn't bring in new business. Now, PGP takes a more significant approach, assigning managers to territories to service existing partners and recruit new ones.

The strategic goal is to grow in the top partner tiers—gold and silver—and to elevate lowest-tier, bronze partners, to silver status. Finck said Avnet will help raise these low-tier high-volume resellers and improve performance and opportunities for silver VARs. Gold partners revenue from services and implementation are a full 20% of revenue product sales, he said.

Avnet offers extensive opportunities through its healthcare and government enablement, as well as security programs. Other vendor partners will help too, especially Avnet's $2 billion business with IBM. Avnet's strength with major storage vendors should also work in PGP's favor.

"Avnet's focus in adjacent spaces, such as storage puts us in a good position with them for what Avnet calls an 'all-play' across selling groups, across product marketing groups and across strategic silos," Finck said.

In addition to the Channel changes, PGP also announced an endpoint encryption product for SMBs, Whole Disk Encryption Workgroup Edition, which it said gives channel partners an easy sell into smaller companies. The product is aimed at 10-150 user environments and is priced at $99 per seat for 10 or more users.

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