Sophos CEO Kris Hagerman has criticised vendors who "rediscover the channel every year".
Speaking to CRN at a Sophos endpoint event that coincided with the launch of Sophos' new intercept X product, Hagerman criticised vendors who regularly revamp or relaunch their partner programmes.
"I wish I had a nickel for every vendor that rediscovers the channel and comes out with a new partner programme," he said. "They position it as if it's some fantastic set of news but we believe the opposite is true.
"Firstly it's a poor understanding of how the best channel partners work and secondly it's emblematic of vendors who aren't consistent with their own view of how important the channel is as a sales strategy."
Hagerman claimed that these security vendors struggle with their partner programmes because of the internal confliction over whether they are direct- or channel-focused.
"The main way these vendors do business [is that] if they take their hands off the steering wheel it's a direct motion," he said.
"Every now and then somebody shakes them and says ‘hey wait a minute, don't zone out, all we're doing is direct and we have to get in the channel'; so they grab the wheel, they swerve, and they say ‘ok it's the channel again'.
"Sooner or later eventually they take their hands off the wheel again and go back to the default mode [of direct sales] and that's what creates this pendulum swing. Over time it grates on partners."
Going after the competitions' customers
To capitalise on what it sees as uncertainty in the cyber security market, Sophos has launched Intercept X which is compatible with endpoint solutions from other security vendors.
Hagerman claims this creates an opportunity for existing partners who are looking to sell Sophos into customers who are currently locked into contracts with other vendors.
Hagerman accepted that other security vendors may not be too happy about a customer adding Sophos to their solutions, but claimed that no other security vendor can offer the same capabilities as Intercept X.
"Our partners can go to that Sophos install base on endpoint and say ‘I can get you covered against these next-generation attacks with a wholly cloud-based solution that plugs in', so it's an amazing cross sell and up sell," he said.
"At the same time for our partners it gives them the chance to go after the other 95 per cent of the market that we don't have and gives them a foot in the door to establish a relationship."
IPO over private equity
Hagerman said that the IPO has given stability to partners, as opposed to the uncertainty that surrounds firms who are bought by larger vendors or sold to private equity.
When asked about Dell Security and Intel Security, both of which are being sold to private equity, he claimed that regular ownership changes are unsettling for partners.
"In both cases the odds are very likely that within two three years they're going to be bought by somebody and then the partners are going to have to go through the same damn thing again," he said.
"I don't think partners are all that different in this respect from the business community as a whole. One of the things that the business community hates is uncertainly, because you want to know that you're building a business on a solid foundation.
"If you're doing it on a platform and foundation that is constantly moving it creates friction, inefficiency, and a system that makes it more difficult for a partner to build a business."
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