2018 Winner of the CRN Channel Chiefs Award Shares Insights About Channel Strategy

Posted on Feb 14, 2018

Mike Rogers joined us here at SecurityScorecard in 2016 after building world-class channel operations as well as strategic alliances with leading cybersecurity and risk management companies. Mike brings more than 20 years of experience to the role; he  heads our company’s indirect go-to-market strategy including global channels, business development, and strategic partnerships.

We at SecurityScorecard have known for a while that Mike is an innovator in the channel space, but are happy to announce that today, he has been recognized with the 2018 CRN Channel Chief Award. Mike’s the kind of guy who likes to stay out of the spotlight (and will probably blush when he reads this article), but we managed to convince him to take a few minutes to do an interview to provide some insight on channel strategy.

Can you talk a bit about how channel strategy works?

Channel strategy is about the partnerships you form, which gives you leverage you wouldn’t otherwise have. Unlike the limits of the direct model, which obviously is selling directly to customers without the benefit of partners. The problem is the direct model limits the scale of what companies can do. Without partners, you can’t truly scale in the marketplace, especially if you’re a startup.

Right now, our current partner ecosystem provides us with thousands of salespeople and system engineers. Together, we jointly enter the market. To go back to my earlier point, the partnership ecosystem gives us leverage that would take us years to build using the direct model. So, my message is consistently positive about being 100% through the channel and having thousand of salespeople.

What do you see as the value of channel today?

The trusted relationships that our value-added retailers have with customers has tremendous value. They are considered a trusted advisor to the CISO and CIO of many of the companies we target. The relationship and trusted exchange between the C-suite and our partners – together, we’re more likely to win market share and succeed. By working with us, our partners gain access to new customers and potential for increased revenue. I’d also mention the value of the training we provide our partners.

How has channel strategy changed?

Channel is all about collaboration and the requirement to work with partners, which will only increase over time. We have to continue to invest in the right program elements and the right people to support our partners. We bring a new technology to market that gives partners something else to talk to their customers about, not only from a product or solution perspective, but a services perspective

Can you talk a little more about how channel benefits customers?

Take healthcare for example: Because healthcare organizations  store and interact with sensitive data, cybersecurity hygiene is a key factor for gaining and keeping customers in the healthcare industry. The problem is many healthcare providers have limited in-house resources, especially to keep track of potential risks and cybersecurity practices. Because SecurityScorecard partners with other companies in the cybersecurity space, the healthcare provider gets increased capabilities from both SecurityScorecard and the partner. Working together, we provide an overarching solution that can provide visibility, actionable data, and can save time.

At their core, strategic alliances enable us to enrich the customer experience. We’re able to team up, build integrations, and provide a better solution-oriented offering. Whether its two partners working with a value added reseller or any number of collaboration options, a joint approach gives us all net new revenue streams and substantive value adds. In many instances, this kind of collaboration allows us to get a more holistic view of the customer. It pushes past the “point solution” and focuses more on how to truly help customers get what they need in an informed way.  For SecurityScorecard, we’re able to amplify value of our cybersecurity risk ratings and be part of a comprehensive risk mitigation approach for any organization.

To make this really concrete, the difference between direct sales and channel in my eyes is: With direct sales, you’re able able to give a CxO a really great tool that can help them save time and money. With channel, you’re able to get a better understanding of what it really means to be in the CxO’s shoes, watch what’s happening around them, what their biggest pain points are, provide them with insights and help on leveraging the solution so that when they log off for the day to go spend time with their families, watching the latest Netflix show, or spend their free time however they like to… we are truly letting them sign off with a sense of relief, knowing that companies that truly “gets them” are operating to help doing the heavy lifting on  some of their cybersecurity responsibilities.

The cybersecurity space is overpopulated with vendors offering point solutions and channel is at least part of the answer how you connect all these to a fabric that actually helps you meet compliance requirements and stay more secure.

Without naming names, can you tell us about a success story you’ve had with channel?

We had a partner we onboarded in early 2017. Within months, we had their sales team enabled. They brought a deal registration to SecurityScorecard, and in under 30 days, we had an active POC, and in under 90 days, the opportunity closed, and the value was above $100,000. If it wasn’t for the relationship that partner brought to the table and the collaborative selling between our two teams, we would not have had that opportunity.

Is there  advice you would give partners or solution providers looking to team up with others about  how they can achieve success with a channel model?

The first thing I’d say is you need to embrace the benefits of partnerships in the channel model. Then, by working together, you can bundle products and services to increase your opportunities in the market.  For example, the sales and technical training we provide our partners give us both opportunities to jointly market to new customers. I’d also add bidirectional engagement or shared goals and decision making between the sales teams on a regular basis. Communication between partners is key.

What are the traits of a great partner?

I think an important step is determining how a potential partner can help you reach your goals. I’d also say  companies need to be very selective about their partner selection criteria. We certainly are and we hold the bar very high. Partners must meet certain thresholds to even become a partner at SecurityScorecard. Keep in mind, you’re opening up new relationships and revenue streams for your partner, so you need to be selective.

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