Symantec to Push Product Training over Solution TrainingBy John Hazard | Posted 2006-07-25 Email Print
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Symantec's refurbished training program will focus on making partners experts in point products. Solution strategies will become the domain of marketing initiatives.
Symantec made a significant shift in how it enables its 60,000 partners when it announced a new sales training curriculum July 24 that focuses on the vendor's products and not the solutions in which they fit.
Beginning with 18 Web-based Symantec Sales Expert training programs to be rolled out this week and next, partners will be trained, tested and certified in individual product sets, such as Client Security or Storage Foundation. Solution strategies will be delivered instead as marketing initiatives or at the discretion of partners in consultation with Symantec, the company said.
The technical training curriculum will be similarly reworked and introduced later this year, Symantec said.
The curriculum is part of a strategy to make partners experts in their point products and allows the solutions to come together as marketing initiatives and industry trends, executives told Channel Insider. The strategy makes for a more flexible ecosystem and encourages partners to master more, and hopefully sell more, of the Symantec line, said Julie Parrish, Symantec's vice president of global channel sales and strategy.
"Customers buy solutions, but vendors and partners sell products," Parrish said. "To sell it, you need to be an expert in what does it do, what are its competitive features, how it is wrapped into solutions, but the solution messaging is not something you need to be expert in."
Solutions, unlike the products, that constitute them, rely on industry trends, market interest and the direction of individual partners, and thus change frequently to manageably teach to a mass audience, Symantec said.
"The second you begin certifying in enterprise e-mail to sell certain products, suddenly there are three new trends that are selling those same products or three new ways to do e-mail security," Parrish said.
Symantec will instead "make sure partners come prepared to sell the products and every quarter come out with the message 'Here is how we're pushing this.'"
Symantec Sales Expert programs are available immediately for Symantec's Control Compliance Suite, Bindview Policy Manager, IM Manager, Mail Security for SMTP and Configuration Manager. Further programs roll out Aug. 4 for Symantec Antivirus and Client Security, Veritas NetBackup, Veritas Storage Foundation, Symantec Sygate Enterprise Protection, Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery, and others.
Limiting the scope of the curriculum enabled Symantec to create a sleeker training experience, Parrish said. The Web-based courses are down to 1 hour, with an assessment test. Partners requiring further study can use training tool kits that include in-depth study material to prepare before they take the online course. The method allows partners, some of whom have sold the products for years and others exploring new competencies, to spend as much or as little time as they choose earning SSE certifications.
Easier certifications encourage partners to achieve more and cross competencies, such as security partners dabbling in storage and vice versa, Parrish said.
Phase Two of Five
The SSE program is what Symantec is calling Phase Two of the its unified partner program rollout being engineered following the consolidation of Symantec's channel with Veritas' since the merger of the two vendors in January.
'Our Main Lead Generation Tool'
Symantec also introduced a partner locator to drive some of the hundreds of thousands of visitors to its corporate Web site to partners.
The locator will allow users to identify partners by location, competency and practice area and view partner specifics. It will be available throughout the site, especially as users delve into product areas where customer interest is piqued, Parrish said.
"The more you can do to take customer traffic coming in and hook up with partners, the better off you will be," she said. "This has the potential to be our main lead generation tool."
For now, the site allows only a quick geographic search. Symantec is asking partners to submit profile information to create "a richer experience for users" before it goes live, Parrish said.
Symantec is also pushing partners themselves to use the locator as partnering among VARs grows more important.