Kulldeep Raina, VP & Global Head- Sales, Seqrite outlines the partner structure and how their programs benefited partners to sustain their businesses.
What are the solutions and services currently in the Quick Heal and Seqrite portfolio?
Cyber security as an industry has evolved in so many areas. The industry comes out with new products, new technologies and cyber criminals bring out new ways of hacking. They find new ways to penetrate. From a Seqrite perspective, what we are trying to address is enterprise space with an unified security concept. Today what we talk about is not only the end point security or a network security but we try to basically build the solution which can address data protection and most of the enterprise space where the perimeter is diminishing.
One of the new fundamentals is cloud. This pandemic has also accelerated this cloud adoption in a faster way. All those customers who are working remotely want an agility in terms of how they want to manage security over the cloud. So, we are addressing an Information Security, we are addressing infrastructure Security, we are addressing the space of application security and we are also addressing the space of data center security. That is what Seqrite is all about today.
How did Seqrite and your partners handle the challenges of delayed or deferred payments from customers?
During this journey of pandemic, I think all of us understood the basic challenges in terms of the commercial aspects. But somehow I think as a company, we are very strong on our value systems. We accommodated all those kinds of requests about delayed or deferred payments. Many customers requested us for extension of their licenses and we did that. We did not hold back any customer who wanted to have an extension on the licenses, neither did our partners. We basically tried to work in our own capacities and try to see how that, how we can solicit those requests that partners are making and we were able to accommodate their requests and probably e tried to help the situation as much as we can. Yes, definitely, the market was slow, the growth that we had been experiencing when we were into the normalcy was not there. This was a challenging period for everyone, and we tried to accommodate as much in our capacities.
How did Seqrite support partners with financial incentives during this period?
We already have some of the programs that we were basically set up for the partners. We have our own programs, which are basically the channel led programs, which are highly motivating in terms of a financial ease towards the partners. Secondly, when it was a delayed payment, normally when you have a credit period with the partners, we did not stick to the rule of thumb for that credit period. We opened the credit to the partners for a longer period so that they can transact with the customer and their business should not go down.
In terms of cash-flow, we delayed the process of cash flows like if he had to pay us in June, but he got his payment by July. After that only he paid us in July. We try to basically go by the cycles that the partner was comfortable in.
Also, we tried to basically settle down. We tried to build in some kind of incentive programs for our customers and partners, but that could have accelerated some of the growth out of the market and that growth helped the partners in a way to capitalize more.
Most importantly, I think one of the key values that we actually brought to our partners today, our partners did not find us out of that space kind of a bracket. That means when pandemic happened and your products or your offerings are not in agile to the current situation, they are not getting in terms of what current market demands are, then it is a big problem for the partners. But thankfully the way our solutions are designed, our offerings were innovative. It actually helped the partner to be in the space of business like if he is doing some transactions with those customers, it was not like the transaction were held up.
Yes, the growth was lesser, the numbers was not that big, but then, he was in some kind of selling motion and thankfully it is all of our products, all of our offerings, all of our creative innovation that had helped them into the cycle of doing some business. Due to this the partner was in a capacity to capitalize out of the market and he was quite stable.
How is the Seqrite partner ecosystem structured and what are the key partner programs in place?
The way we are currently designed, we have Platinum partners and we have Gold partners and then we have some of the Silver partners. The Platinum partners are the ones which are the billing partners to us and they do a large scale of business. The Gold partners are also the ones which basically work in different segments of the market and the billing volume is lesser. The Silver ones are the ones which are basically operating into the white space. We fundamentally focus on Platinum and Gold more because that is where our whole a rebate programs are going in. So when it comes to the channel programs, we have various levels of programs and we keep on changing the programs depending on how market is driven by and depending on what new innovation we try to bring into those programs.
But overall, we try to basically bring our incentive scheme in three directions. The first direction is that we want to reward the organizations for the great job they are doing with us. We try to basically work with those partners in raising the competency skills, we try to build a high level of competency with them so that they are much more effective in positioning the solutions and servicing the customers because ultimately our aim is that how can we create a value to our customers? So to create a value to our customers we are doing a lot of value addition to our partners from the training perspective. We train them on products, selling techniques, ethics and compliances. The partner ecosystem becomes a much more robust ecosystem and follows a compliance, follows an ethical practice, which basically customers like.
The second point is that, we try to reward, we have some reward and recognition programs for partners, not only for the partner organization, but we have rewards and recognition programs for their own sales reps. The sales reps who goes out into the market, they’re also rewarded for the best in the excellence of the job that they bring in. We work very closely with our partners. Our partners are our extended arms. We try to build a two point agenda with them. The one point agenda is that how to build a competency scale with those partners so that they can ultimately service the customers in a better way. The second point is that how can we recognize and reward the partner organizations as well as their sales people who basically are part and parcel of our extended virtual teams.
How did you ensure remote support and services when both customers and partners were in WFH mode?
We are a partner and customer centric organization. When the lockdown mode started, I think the first thing that came to our mind is how to keep our support active. The first thing our IT internal corporate IT worked on that how to basically enforce and ensure that how our toll-frees are not getting impacted. Our toll frees are working down the line and they impacted that all of our engineers via web and chat are all there, whatever the infrastructure we needed to give to the people to work from their home. We immediately made those investments and we made that shift. The good part was I think that shift that we made for our support was in less than two to three days, we ensure that all our support guys are up and working from home. We ensured everything’s there and people have their internet connections, people have access people now access to critical servers, people are operating out of their laptops. They are able to then send the call, we are not missing any customer requests.
Even before the lockdown, when we were actually feeling that some crisis situation is going to come up, our HR has already set up disaster recovery plans. In terms of DR plans, we had a steering committee there and that committee is the first thing that they worked on is basically how to keep our support up and coming. Then second thing, we actually use that time of the first quarter of this year we used in basically use that time in building the, in scaling up the competency levels of partners. I think in a month, if you used to have two or three programs for partner trainings, we immediately moved to the digital platform. We started learning information management services. We started our training partners and in fact those smaller cities where maybe the infrastructure was an issue, our local teams over the WebEx or the collaborative applications started reaching out to the partners, getting their confidence and telling them more about our offerings, telling them more about imparting them to trainings.
When it comes down to how we dealt with the situation, the first thing we ensured that we’re not going to let our customers down when they need the support.
There is hardly any customer who comes back to us and says that he was not supported during the pandemic and I got so many application letters during this pandemic and the customers were amazed to see how you guys are managed it. I think the good part that Seqrite has is our local presence. We are presenting every city. We have technical people. We are sales people. We have pre-sales people in every city you name it. So, where would we have selling, o first objective was that, how do we return the value to our customers? The customers have invested on us, how do we retain that value to them? Our force all across was a big strength and they ensured that all the customers are attended. During that time they ensured also, the partners are very well connected. We kept on talking to partners, understanding their pain areas, understanding that how we can help them and partner are like buddies to us. Every local team used to talk to our partners at the local level to figure it out that what does it mean to be as a local go to market with those partners. We strategized, we had good a foundational plans at the local levels, at the grassroots levels, at the field levels, what is the appropriate way to engage with? Overall from support till partner engagement, partner enablement, that kept us moving on and that kept us customer satisfaction.
Our customer satisfaction scores are exorbitantly, very high, which means, the customers have really appreciated the way we have supported them.
What were the priority marketing activities from Seqrite during these challenging times?
One of the best things is that we are blessed with a great marketing team and this team is also equivalently conscious of customer objectives. Our team is highly customer centric. During pandemic, I myself would not believe in the way that everything moved onto the digital.
My marketing team actually started building up a digital based campaign . They are talking to customers, they started going to the existing customers. They started talking to the renewals, sending up some of the messages across our offerings to many of the customers. In no time, we actually experienced a digital revolution in Seqrite and those digital revolution was all possible because of the marketing folks.
They were so highly innovative in channelizing it so well and they gave me a very smooth transition. Even I did not have to think about the way everything moved onto the digital. They went out to the customers, they started campaigning to the customers. They started coordinating the sales. Sales and marketing was like hand in hand in gloves. They started working with sales on what to do, how to do next, what messages to send, what are the practices? What are the threat reports? What are the vulnerabilities or what are the threats those customers are undergoing with? How can we help? How can we message? How can we properly send it out to an educate platforms? How can we digitally connect it? They basically created a digital Tsunami and that helped us to remain connected all across. They bridged the gap between us and the customers and I think it was a real good effort, they just pulled it off as a digital revolution.
How did you convince partners and customers to adopt this predominantly digital route?
Support side, I could not do much. It was like 80-20 because in some of the cases, I had to keep my guys in the field. When the unlock 1 started, we had plans to keep some of those guys at everybody city on the field. In fact, in May and June, some of my support people they’re there on the field as well because I had some of the critical infrastructure deployments. These were super critical infrastructure deployments that I couldn’t ignore. These are the deployments from which are important from the national security perspective as well.
I had to have a plan to keep some of the people on the field as well and when we had a critical infrastructure, I needed a face there. For that, we had a very thin team, kept it out there. We worked very hard as per the guidelines. From the sales closing perspective, it was a very big culturalshock to both of us because we were also habituated to sit in front of the customer. It was a difficult situation for both customers and us but somehow this pandemic taught us and created the need of the hour. It taught us that digitally you can accomplish everything that you want. Customers also understand the situation. They’re also working with 20-30% strength and they don’t allow people inside their infrastructure. Yes, for some large deals we need to meet but mostly people have learnt the art of negotiating on the web.