Collaboration is key in the cybersecurity space. It’s critical that organizations work in concert with vendors and the channel to deliver the most unified and fortified response possible to adversarial threats. To give this some context, a recent ESG survey showed that cloud and cybersecurity were leading the corporate spending charge in 2021. Specifically related to cybersecurity, ESG found that the top two spending areas were around cloud infrastructure security and cloud application security, but these organizations also face massive readiness gaps in these two areas. Essentially organizations are spending a ton of money on cybersecurity but struggling to find the talent needed to deploy and manage it.
As a result, services are playing an increasingly important role in helping to closing the skills gap associated with cybersecurity readiness (and the cloud). Customers either need native services from vendors or they need to leverage managed service providers. This is creating significant opportunities for vendors to invest in partner ecosystems that can offer managed services for customers. And as this shift to fill the skills gap continues, the services value needs to be conveyed at every step of the sales cycle. A vendor may have a qualified prospect for a product, but because of the skills gap, that customer may not be able to consume it. This is where partners and managed services become critical to sales success.
What should vendors be doing to create more sales opportunities with partners?
- ESG’s research points out that one areas of focus should be around education. It’s crucial that vendors engage with the market through thought leadership to help them better understand some of the megatrends happening and how to create a roadmap that can win them more business.
- The cybersecurity market is fragmented and confusing, and according to ESG, these educational topic areas of interest include vendor consolidation, the role of cybersecurity platforms in remote work (like SASE and XRD), retooling of cybersecurity programs for zero trust, and the central role of services.
Vendors that can convey an understanding of these topic areas, show customer success associated with them, and note the innovation investments in these areas, can drive more demand for their solutions through partner services. And it’s worth noting that because there is so much churn in the cybersecurity industry, those vendors and service providers that are hyper focused on customer success throughout this process (through sales engineers and solution architects in the field) have much better retention and renewal rates than organizations that take the hit-and-run approach in their sales cycle.
Beyond some of the high-level shifts in the cybersecurity market, there are also some additional key factors that are driving vendors to embrace managed services.
- First is business viability. For example, the desire to remain a trusted advisor to the end customer; the desire to shift the company business model to recurring revenue projects; and the business risk of not providing these services at all.
- Second, is the shifting customer demand. For example, the shift away from applications to SaaS and from technology acquisition to IaaS.
- Furthermore, partners are placing strategic bets on these services, especially cloud and security. In fact, according to ESG, partners are aggressively adding new security offerings, specifically around network security, endpoint protection, data protection, cloud security, and authentication.
As partners and providers continue to take advantage of the skills gap problem, they’re looking to vendors to help facilitate that transition. They want to deliver more managed services via the cloud, and they want to offer more high-margin managed services. This requires better support, training, and education from the vendor. This brings up the question, “how do these managed services providers make their vendor selections?”
What we do know is that a vendor’s ability to enable efficient selling and servicing equates to an MSPs success. ESG’s research found that key “sales asks” from partners include elements such as:
- More technical training for pre-sales teams
- Improved lead-gen volume
- Support for clear customer on-ramping and off-ramping of a vendor technology or services
External challenges from partners included:
- Difficulty getting the right training
- Getting sufficient marketing support
- A lack of support to execute lead generation campaigns
ESG also asked partners what were the top elements that drive operation efficiency (which equals profitability). They found that an easy-to-use partner portal for admin, pricing, consumption, and billing were top of the list, followed by technical training, and a variety of other elements such as marketing support, real-time sales support, and more.
For vendors in the cybersecurity space, the partner ecosystem is no longer a nice to have, it’s a critical mechanism for driving growth, demand, and revenue. As the security skills gap continues to put pressure on customers, service providers will continue to play an increasingly powerful role with consultancy and services. Vendors that leverage the right channel and partner tools can help accelerate those journeys for partners, who in turn can build exceptional customer journeys for end buys.
To learn more about how cybersecurity customers use Impartner’s PRM platform for channel success, check out this case study podcast with SentinelOne or this Lessons from the Edge podcast with FireMon.
To listen to a more detailed webinar on this topic, click here.