Security vendor Trend Micro is dishing out a dose of tough love to its channel as it overhauls its partner programme in EMEA.
Launching on 3 October, the new regime will see its Affinity One, Affinity Plus and Affinity partners reclassified as Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze partners. Resellers have three months to get up to speed and Trend has promised to come down hard on those that fail to skill up.
At the same time, it is launching five new specialisations and introducing programme-wide deal registration and rebates for those who beat quarterly targets.
EMEA managing director Tony Larks admitted Trend had been coasting in the channel for the past eight years.
"To run a healthy channel you need to be a good gardener," he explained. "You need to prune it back to let it grow. When partners are not performing to the level they once were, they should not retain top-tier status. By creating a new programme with a set of new tiers, we can identify those partners that should retain those higher tiers."
There are currently 31 Affinity One and 42 Affinity Plus partners listed on Trend's UK partner locator but Larks said just 50 would obtain the new higher-level Platinum, Gold and Silver badges.
Platinum partners must achieve at least two of the five specialisations covering network and systems, data protection, cloud and datacentre and end-point and mobility. Gold partners must bag one specialisation, while Silver partners are expected to have an SMB bent.
"By having fewer partners focused on our business at the top tier, there is a greater opportunity for them to make more money and regain the investment they have made in the specialisations," said Larks. "We need to demonstrate our love with hard cash but the commitment works both ways."
The new programme is also designed to reward partners for investing in newer areas of Trend's portfolio, including cloud and virtual security.
"One of my biggest failings is that Trend is perceived as just an anti-virus vendor," said Larks. "We moved on a couple of years ago but I do not think we reflected that in our channel programme."
Larks admitted the Affinity programme was also too complex and opaque, with partners "needing a degree in economics" to understand what was required of them.
Rob Gupta, managing director of Secon, an Affinity One partner shooting for Platinum status under the new regime, welcomed the overhaul.
"Up to a third of our revenue is based on Trend and services related to Trend," he said. "The new programme differentiates organisations like us in the marketplace."
Gupta added: "Three or four years ago Trend lost its way but it is now becoming more strategic in lots of customers' networks as opposed to being a point product."
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