5 Signs Your Cybersecurity Channel Marketing Program Needs a Boost

Channel partners play a critical role in the cybersecurity sales ecosystem. According to Gartner, by the end of next year the services channel alone will account for half of security software delivery. And that’s not even accounting for spending through VARs, integrators, and other channel partners. As cybersecurity spending continues to soar, the smell of cash is drawing in new vendors daily and muddying the waters for buyers already struggling with cybersecurity vendor fatigue. As a result, buyers are increasingly routing their cybersecurity spending through partners who can help them put together a best-in-class mix of cyber capabilities.

Most cybersecurity vendors have at least a basic awareness of this dynamic at play, and the average cybersecurity vendor tends to have a slightly higher level of channel maturity than a run-of-the-mill B2B tech vendor. At the same time, their mileage may vary when it comes to channel success. That’s because while most cybersecurity vendors have some kind of channel program in place, very few of them do a great job truly enabling their partners with next-level channel marketing support.

The Importance of Channel Marketing Support

Channel partner enablement is not a one-and-done activity. Getting a channel program off the ground isn’t akin to a rocket launch; instead it’s more like starting and stoking a fire that a vendor should never let fizzle out. The only way to keep those flames burning is to feed that fire with the right fuel, namely channel marketing and training resources. These can come in the way of training and messaging materials meant for internal partner consumption, ready-made sales collateral for prospects, co-marketing campaigns, and marketing development funds (MDF) to spur on partners to develop their own materials and campaigns.

All too often, security vendors provide very little support on any of those fronts and then wonder why their channel isn’t driving more revenue. If you’ve got an inkling that your firm might be one of these vendors, consider for a moment whether your organization exhibits any of the following red flag symptoms. If so, it may be time to rethink your cybersecurity channel marketing practices.

  • Channel program is underperforming in key metrics: The most obvious red flag is when the metrics show that a firm isn’t getting enough into the channel. The metrics obviously vary by channel program and individual goals, but if volume of deals are suboptimal, deal size is an issue, or partners are not bringing in enough leads, that’s one of the most obvious red flags that something needs to change with channel marketing.
  • There are no channel marketing experts in-house: Many vendor organizations fail to even provide the most basic materials that experienced partners would expect from a channel marketing program because the in-house marketing team lacks channel expertise and doesn’t know what it doesn’t know. Veteran marketers with little channel experience may shy away from channel marketing because it is out of their comfort zone. As a result, partners get the short shrift.
  • The sales team is in charge of every aspect of channel relations: As a corollary to the previous point, another red flag is when the sales team is put in charge of every aspect of maintaining the channel program. Through no fault of their own these sales people may be missing quick wins and opportunities because they think like a salesperson instead of having a channel marketing strategy.
  • Co-branded messaging is all over the place: If motivated partners aren’t getting the support they need, they may be going to prospects with ad hoc marketing materials of their own making. Without a comprehensive channel marketing strategy and processes in place, this could put branding investments at risk.
  • No one has explicitly asked partners what kind of channel marketing support they need: Maybe your organization does have a channel marketing program in place, but your partners still struggle. It could be that the kind of support provided isn’t what your particular partners need. If no one has done a thorough assessment of partner needs, that’s a red flag for a channel marketing rethink

Simply having a channel program is not enough—in some cases it can do more harm than good if a vendor doesn’t support the program with the right channel marketing resources. If any of these red flags apply to your organization and you want to know how to get started rethinking your cybersecurity channel marketing program, learn more about our cybersecurity marketing capabilities or contact us directly for an introductory chat.