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​EXCLUSIVE: Predictability key for partners as WatchGuard carves out new channel strategy

​EXCLUSIVE: Predictability key for partners as WatchGuard carves out new channel strategy

“We have to focus on what we are good at, and that’s targeting the small and medium organisations and distributed enterprise markets."

Sean Price - Vice President of Worldwide Sales, WatchGuard

Sean Price - Vice President of Worldwide Sales, WatchGuard

“We’re not Cisco, we’re not Palo Alto Networks and we’re not Check Point. We’re WatchGuard.”

In opening the WatchGuard Australia and New Zealand Partner conference in Queenstown, in front of a strong local channel contingent, WatchGuard Vice President of Worldwide Sales, Sean Price, made his point clear.

“We have to focus on what we are good at, and that’s targeting the small and medium organisations and distributed enterprise markets,” he said.

“This probably isn’t new to our partners in Australia and New Zealand, but we need our channel to understand what it takes to succeed within this space, and we need our partners to embrace that.”

Price, recently appointed to the role in January, spoke of a more “predictable” WatchGuard, a WatchGuard that is essentially easy for partners to do business with.

“It’s that simple,” he said. “We have ambitions to grow and we want our partners to maximise every quote on every occasion.

“But we need to become more predictable in our business to enable this. We have focused on opportunities to help our partners identify key areas of growth, and we want to make it easy for the channel to execute on these deals.”

In keynoting his fifth partner conference during four months in the role, Price told partners he is “comfortable with change”, with plans already in place to clearly define the vendor’s strategy both locally and globally.

Fresh from experience a fifth quarter of double digit growth, Price said the WatchGuard of 2016 will focus on leveraging the success of 2015, built around delivering widely deployable enterprise grade security to small and medium sized organisations and distributed enterprise space.

“We are focusing on what we are good at and everything is geared towards these key markets,” he added. “That’s not changing but we understand we operate in a very noisy market.

“We have made progress in terms of introducing new product lines and updating partner programs, but there’s lots of vendors out there doing similar things so we appreciate the competition.”

WatchGuardONE Technology Partner Program

To differentiate however, Price said the security vendor is building on recent partner program announcements, based around supporting fellow technology companies and new innovators that integrate with WatchGuard products.

As reported by ARN, the WatchGuardONE Technology Partner Program provides a platform for companies to receive technical, marketing, and sales support.

The program offers three levels of partnership – Silver, Gold, and Platinum - designed to provide flexibility based on partner commitment, while providing a key list of Technology Partner integrations.

“We understand that our partners utilise WatchGuard technology alongside other technology and equipment,” Price acknowledged. “As such, we’re trying to cherry pick what is easy to use and then put together a program that certifies these technologies to allow for easier integration.

“It will inform partners what technologies work together and how to get them all up and running, which we haven’t done very well in the past.

“We believe the real impact for customers will be in terms of avoiding problems while for the partner, it will boost attach rates.

“So we want our partners to communicate with us about what is on their line card, what do they typically selling which WatchGuard and what problems usually arise. This will start small and naturally grow, but it’s a big deal.”

Managed Services Provider

As explained by Price, WatchGuard is also simplifying its managed services provider program for partners, following industry criticism.

“To be honest, we have received negative feedback on this,” he admitted. “But we’re listening and we think it’s incredibly important to rework our go to market strategy.

“This is coming and plans are already in place. We have proposals due in a few weeks and hope to roll something out later in the year to the channel.”

Price’s comments again tie back into WatchGuard being more predictable to do business with, as partners seek vendors that create simplistic engagement environments, in an increasingly competitive market.

In drawing on 30 years of personal networking and security channel experience, Price remains a “big believer in building the ecosystem”, but to do that, he understands predictability is the key.

James Henderson attended WatchGuard Australia and New Zealand Partner conference as a guest of WatchGuard.

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