New BitDefender partner program courts security resellers

BitDefender’s revamped channel program offers new tiers and calls for an unusual level of shared planning between vendor and partner.

BitDefender has revamped its channel partner program for security resellers in an effort to increase sales through its channel partners.

The updated program calls for renewed commitment with its 1,000-plus partners in more than 100 countries. BitDefender has promised more equitable partner policies, which it hopes will draw the attention of solution providers who choose to partner with rival endpoint security vendors.

BitDefender Partner Advantage Network
BitDefender announced its Partner Advantage Network with new partner tiers, new training and new marketing tools. The three previous tiers of bronze, silver and gold have been replaced with four tiers of registered, select, plus and premier partner.

According to Vitor Souza, global communications director of Romania-based BitDefender, too many of its partners were stuck at the bronze level, with little incentive to move to a higher tier. Just 10% of its partners were at the gold level. BitDefender has built incentives into the four new tiers, which it hopes will encourage existing solution providers to strengthen their commitment to BitDefender.

“The more the partners commit to us, the more we will commit to them,” said Souza, noting that high-level solution providers may receive more leads and sales development funds (BitDefender’s term for market development funds). In return, BitDefender expects its partners to commit to specified amounts of security training and certification and revenue goals, as well as other commitments depending on the tier.

Vendor-partner relationship
A key component of BitDefender’s Partner Advantage Network program is its plan to create and review a business plan with each channel partner at the select, plus or premier level. Rather than assigning a preset amount of benefits, such as a number of NFR (not-for-resell) licenses, to each level, BitDefender intends to meet with each partner to agree on a plan of action for the solution provider and a plan of support from the vendor.

We would rather have fewer,
more organized
partners.
The vendor-partner commitment is most important
to us.

Vitor Souza

BitDefender

BitDefender expects to spend the summer of 2011 conducting reviews with each of its current partners, reviewing their business plans and creating an action plan for the vendor and the partner. Bronze partners will be reassigned to the registered tier; silver partners to the select or plus tiers, and gold partners to the premier tier. This will take time, but Souza said, “We would rather have fewer, more organized partners. The vendor-partner commitment is most important to us.”

Palo Alto Calif.-based SoapTech is a BitDefender gold partner, and will become a premier partner under the new program. Michael Nagayama, founder of SoapTech, noted that he always leads with BitDefender when selling Internet security. He appreciates the involvement of BitDefender sales engineers who help make sure the BitDefender product is installed and deployed properly.

“I find BitDefender is flexible and easy to work with,” Nagayama said. He also noted that BitDefender provides him with the highest margin -- between 30% and 40% -- compared to other Internet security solutions he carries.

Global PartnerLink
The new program is designed to level the playing field among BitDefender partners around the world. In the past, BitDefender’s policy allowed partners to set different price discounts depending on the partner’s own country or region. This could cause problems when, for example, a solution provider in the U.S. reached out to a potential customer in the U.K., offering a lower price for the BitDefender solution than a U.K.-based BitDefender partner could offer.

The new partner program sets identical pricing policies for all BitDefender channel partners, regardless of their geography. With its revised Partner Link portal, BitDefender partners will all receive the same policies, as well as collateral, telemarketing scripts, and the like.

Focus on SMBs
Approximately 70% of BitDefender’s current revenue comes from consumers who purchase BitDefender Internet security and antivirus products for home use. With the announcement of BitDefender version 3.5 for business customers last week, BitDefender signaled its intention to increase its presence in small and midsized businesses. The BitDefender Partner Advantage Network was designed to help its partners bring in more business customers.

Commenting on the new channel partner program, Charles Arizmendi, chief operating officer of BitDefender said in a press release, “Given the increasingly important role IT security plays in business today, we know there is a tremendous revenue growth opportunity for our channel partners in 2011.”

Founded in 2001, BitDefender is a privately held firm with partners in 100 countries worldwide, including 200 partners in the U.S. BitDefender is sold directly and through channel partners in many countries, although its U.S. sales come entirely through the channel.

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