FireEye is once again "a solid bet" for the channel, according to the security vendor's EVP of worldwide sales, Bill Robbins.
Robbins said since joining the firm just over 12 months ago, he has committed to repairing damaged relationships with partners that had been left frustrated by FireEye's previous channel engagement efforts.
"We weren't doing a great job of working with our channel partners to build an ecosystem that would benefit both them and us. One of my goals for 2017 was, in some places, building the channel organization and, in some places, repairing relationships that have been stressed over previous years for a variety of reasons," said Robbins.
Describing 2017 as "a solid reset year," the exec said he would now give FireEye "a B+" or "an A-" for what it efforts so far.
Robbins noted he has overhauled how FireEye engages with partners, steering the vendor away from the wholesale partner recruitment undertaken in the past that saw it sign up "any and every partner."
"It was frustrating for a lot of our partners," he explains. "The ones making an investment in us felt we were becoming overly distributed, and the ones that signed up thinking they were going to have this great business felt they were ignored and felt resentful."
He said 2017 saw the company re-focus on partners that were investing the most in FireEye.
"Instead of treating 2,500 partners all like they're equal, we have put more focus on their tiers of partners that invest in us. We're now seeing more revenue come through from those partners that have decided to invest in us," he explained.
Robbins also said he has laid out "very clear rules of engagement" with FireEye's direct sales as to how they should interact with the channel, including bringing in partners earlier in the sales process and "not just thinking about it about as fulfillment."
Elsewhere, the vendor has concentrated on its deal registration program, the benefits of which were previously "not well-communicated - the rules where not always clear or concise," according to Robbins.
"I have worked hard with both the channel team and our direct selling team so we all have a clear and consistent view of how to treat opportunities," he says, adding "we also sweetened margin opportunities to make it more attractive for partners to find and close opportunities on their own."
The firm has also revamped its product portfolio to make it easier for the channel to sell. Historically, said Robbins, FireEye's products had been overly complex with long cycle times and demanded a lot of high-touch interaction.
"Partners were questioning whether they could build a business around us. Were there enough transactions? Was there enough velocity? Could they build a services practice around our product set?" he said.
The sales chief said the firm has been working on bringing products to market that would gain more traction in the channel. He described both FireEye's HX endpoint technology and its Helix security operations platform as now being packaged "in a more channel-friendly way."
In addition, further to an "extensive pricing and packaging review," FireEye plans to roll out a series of changes in mid-2018 to make it easier for partners to quote for its products and for customers to acquire the technology.
"FireEye has its momentum back," Robbins said.
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