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The business segment of online security vendor AVG Technologies in January will unveil a three-pronged channel initiative as part of a revised go-to-market strategy.
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AVG Technologies launched its AVG Business division earlier this year to focus on channel sales to IT resellers and managed service providers in the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. Specifically, AVG Business provides partner offerings, such as its CloudCare security product and Managed Workplace remote monitoring and management software. The company has faced challenges transitioning from its on-premises products to cloud-based offerings, however.
During the company's third-quarter earnings call earlier this month, Gary Kovacs, CEO and managing director of San Francisco-based AVG Technologies, said software as a service involves "a very different sales process," acknowledging that uptake of cloud-based services "was not where we wanted it to be."
AVG Business: Go-to-market changes ahead
Accordingly, the company is making both leadership and go-to-market changes in its channel approach. As for leadership, Fred Gerritse was recently appointed general manager of AVG Business. Gerritse, who joins AVG Business from Cisco, said he is working on a channel business plan, which will kick off next year.
The new go-to-market strategy will revolve around what Gerritse described as three sales motions: partner sales, distribution sales and account sales. AVG Business' partner sales team will support the "somewhat larger partners" within the division's channel partner base and their SMB end customers, he said.
The distribution sales team, meanwhile, will build relationships with distributors, which, in turn, will work with smaller partners. Gerritse said he is currently looking at the distributor landscape, region by region. He said the company enjoys a good distributor landscape in the U.S. and Canada. In North America, the company works with distributors such as Ingram Micro Inc., Synnex Corp. and Lifeboat Distribution. Gerritse said he plans to optimize distribution arrangements in other regions, including Europe.
The third prong, account sales, will involve a team of account managers who will engage with large midsize customers in combination with partners, Gerritse said. He said the specific midsize customers that AVG Business and its partners will jointly approach will depend, to a significant degree, on a partner's assessment of current customers or potential prospects.
"The majority of the list we will address with account managers will be nominated by our partners," Gerritse said.
While AVG will be involved in the sale, closing the deal will be the partner's responsibility, he added. Partners will also be responsible for pricing, the support model and implementation.
Diane Krakora, CEO of PartnerPath in Menlo Park, Calif., a company that designs partner engagement models, said large vendors -- such as Microsoft and Oracle -- segment their customer bases, with commercial and SMB occupying the two bottom tiers, and enterprise at the top. She noted that AVG appears to be employing this approach in its channel strategy.
Fred Gerritsegeneral manager, AVG Business
"It sounds like they are segmenting their base," she said. "They are applying additional resources to the top part of their pyramid, which makes sense. The bigger customers need more flexibility, handholding and more customization."
The additional resources applied to the top of the pyramid might include joint sales calls, as well as the ability for partners to provide offerings that address customers' buying needs and patterns, Krakora explained. For example, a partner's midsize customer in the 500- to 1,000-seat range might need one site license versus the vendor's standard pricing around individual-user licenses.
The task for AVG in its segmentation plan will be to define the vendor's role and the partner's role for the different sets of end customers, Krakora said.
A four-part business plan
Gerritse said the three sales motions will be the first item he will address in January. The second piece will be focusing on the alignment of the marketing organization with the partner, distribution and account sales teams.
The third part of revised AVG Business go-to-market strategy will focus on the division's technology roadmap, based on input from its partners. Gerritse said a partner advisory council is in place to provide that feedback.
The fourth part of the business plan, Gerritse said, "will relate to the ease of doing business with the AVG organization, and especially the business segment." This effort will touch upon areas such as lead generation, ordering and support.
"We will try to do as much as possible to make life a lot easier for our partners," Gerritse said.
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