Symantec gets it all wrong

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It's no fun for any company when its chief operating officer sticks his foot in his mouth or when that same foot is used to kick its resellers in the ass.

That's what Symantec COO Enrique Salem did back in June when, on a conference call with analysts, he said that the company’s Platinum Partners could buy direct, cutting out distributors in the process. The results would provide a likely boost for both Symantec and its top partners. According to the conversation, SMB partners would get screwed, too, as Symantec goes direct with contract renewals.

According to the transcript, Salem said that despite a strong 25-year relationship with the channel, its direct salesforce is heavily engaged. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to use two-tier distribution to serve Symantec’s largest 900 customers.

Salem also said that 70 percent of Symantec’s business is conducted electronically, and that its effort to simplify the renewal process would be, as he put it, cost effective. Of course, channel partners would say sayonara to the revenue annuity generated by renewals.

Yeah, it stinks. And once the word got out, you could feel the outrage surging all around. And you know what that means: a quick shift into damage control mode.

In an interview with the IDG News Service, Parrish said, that Salem’s comments were “misconstrued and got twisted around which is unfortunate. The media outlets didn't talk to enough partners or come to me first to help put those comments back into context.”

Nice try, but no cigar. Salem’s comments were crystal clear. I’m not sure any amount of backspin will put this mess back in the bottle.

Parrish explained that two-thirds of Symantec’s top 900 customer had already been buying direct. She says that in April, Symantec merely let the accounts that what they already were doing was really ok. So, this is good?

Parrish also said that two-tier distribution was a bottleneck for enterprises buying site licenses and that pricing would not change. Let’s see, fewer players, same pricing; where do you think the money previously paid out in sales commissions will go?

I’ll bet that more than few VARs and resellers are reaching for their Norton Utilities, to erase any mention of Symantec from their hard drives and any memory from their brains.

What a mess.

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