Websense's new UK boss says his priority is to bring more consistency and clear communication to the security vendor.
Talking to CRN nine weeks into his stint as area vice president of northern Europe, Neal Lillywhite admitted Websense's channel engagement has "room for improvement" after partners aired concerns over declining levels of support and account management in January.
Lillywhite said his seven-year stint at previous employer NTT Com Security (formerly Integralis) will allow him to pinpoint the changes necessary to win back mindshare in the channel.
"I can't really comment on what has or hasn't happened in the past but I think there is room for improvement," Lillywhite (pictured) said.
"There are some things we can do that will be fairly easy to improve. I know the things that make it really, really painful if you are a VAR and the two things that are the most painful are having consistency – consistency of deal registration programmes and other programmes – and having clear communication.
"The behaviour I've seen at multiple vendors in the seven years I was in my previous life was at its most difficult when there was inconsistent behaviour and surprises. I got really fed up with people who would behave one way on Monday, a different way on Tuesday, and by Friday had gone full circle. They weren't the relationships I would spend any time working with."
Perfecting the business relationship with partners boils down to three things: technology, engagement and economics, Lillywhite said.
"When those go out of sync you get a breakdown in channel relationships, and that's when partners drift off and potentially engage with another vendor," he said.
"For me, the critical point is that any vendor should be cognisant of the fact that channel partners have a choice."
Partners told us as recently as January that they were still feeling the after-effects of Websense's decision to move its HQ – and its support – from San Diego to Austin last year.
New engineers now have to pass a rigorous 14- to 16-week training programme, but the staff shortage that arose from this change in policy is now firmly in the rear-view mirror, Lillywhite said.
"We are out the other side of that and the conversations I've had with partners is that has had a massive change," he said. "It was a painful process but the reasons for moving were absolutely sound."
Websense is also reviewing its UK partner landscape and accreditation programme, Lillywhite said.
"We need to have a programme and operate it," he said. "A lot of vendors have programmes but don't implement them, as they are too difficult. The key objective for me this year is to really establish some business relationships with partners, rather than them just being on the partner programme. And equally, where we have got differences, we need to make some hard decisions."
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