SonicWall CEO: Partner Program Revamp On Tap For Early 2023

‘We’ve already been talking to the partners about what we need to change,’ says SonicWall CEO Bob VanKirk of upcoming partner program enhancements.


SonicWall plans to unveil a revamped partner program next year designed to boost sales and better assist partners, said CEO Bob VanKirk.

VanKirkwho took over as CEO of theMilpitas, Calif.-based cybersecurity company this past summer, said SonicWall already has begun making changes to its strong channel-focused business.

“It all starts with the partners,” VanKirk said of SonicWall’s strategy. “We’re 100 percent channel.”

The major changes to the SecureFirst Partner Program will most likely come in March or April, VanKirk told CRN.

The enhancements will include “better aligning rebates and incentives” to committed partners and “rewarding partners for their training,” he said.


“We’ve already been talking to the partners about what we need to change,” said VanKirk. SonicWall has 17,000 partners worldwide.

SonicWall, which is owned by private equity firms Francisco Partners and Elliott Management, recently introduced its “Three and Free” program in which customers who sign up for three years of service get free firewall hardware from the company, VanKirk said.

“As other vendors are increasing their prices, we’re actually doing the opposite,” he said.

“If a customer and a partner commit to buying three years of services—services that go with our solutions—what they end up getting is the firewall hardware at no charge. That translates to a double-digit price decrease savings.”

The “Three and Free” program is successful precisely because of its simplicity, according to VanKirk. “It’s easy for the customer to understand and it’s easy for our partners to understand,” he said.

SonicWall, which was spun out of Dell Technologies in 2016, has also made enhancements to its partner portal in recent months, said VanKirk, who was CRO of SonicWall before taking over the CEO role. 

Andrew Cohen, owner and CEO of SMR Consulting, a Newton, Mass.-based MSP and SonicWall partner, said he hasn’t seen any details of upcoming changes but expressed support for any future partner enhancements.

“It can be tough sometimes to get the margins right,” he said of SMR Consulting. “Anything SonicWall can do to [defray] costs is a good thing.”

Cohen, whose company employs nine people, heaped praise on SonicWall’s commitment to partners in general.

“I’ve been very pleased by the support I’ve gotten,” he said, adding he’s had “very good” interactions with the company’s channel leaders.

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