Symantec's Moves Ignite A Firestorm

Infrastructure software company Symantec's attempt to take more business direct has ignited a firestorm of protest and indignation in the channel and may well stand up as a primer on how NOT to adjust a vendor's sales model.

Symantec was caught telling Wall Street analysts that it wanted to take more business direct and cut out distributors and some channel partners from the equation. Company executives were quoted as saying they intended to make the sales operation more efficient by making it easier for large customers to buy direct and to automate renewals in the SMB market .It didn't take long for this to spread like wildfire through the channel, and now Symantec really has some damage to control. The company already has been charged with "channel treason" on the Ziff Channel Insider website  Now it's busy clarifying the media's "misconceptions", telling Channel Insider that the latest change is really no change at all. Another channel site, CRN's ChannelWeb, also carries news of channel partners' outrage over Symantec's actions.

Thanks to Symantec for livening up the summer doldrums, although it's a bit disingenuous to shoot the messenger. It sure seems like Symantec has done what some foolish channel vendors routinely do when there's an economic slowdown brewing: tell the analysts you'll boost profit by squeezing the middleman. Such a strategy never ends well, and it won't here, either. Symantec is losing years of loyalty it built up among channel partners, igniting unnecessary channel conflict, and confusing its customer base. The end result will be way more time, money and energy devoted to mending relations than any increase in direct revenue may generate. Vendors may want to adjust their sales strategies in troubled times, but this, unfortunately, is not the way to do it. 

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