CrowdStrike’s European channel director, Amanda Adams, talks to Comms Business about how CrowdStrike’s partner programme has flourished in what has been a challenging year for everyone.
Amanda Adams was appointed CrowdStrike’s European channel director in January 2020, just two months before the pandemic brought the world to a halt. She said, “I had been with CrowdStrike for four and a half years, always within our alliances team and always in partner-facing [roles]. I was hired in the states to lead the largest partnership that we had, and played a part in establishing our channel partner programme back in 2016. Since then, I held various roles of managing larger global partnerships, and then took ownership of national teams two years ago. Then I stepped into this role in January of 2020.”
Adams explained that she moved to London the week that the country went into lockdown, so hasn’t been able to meet with as many partners as she would have liked. She had worked closely with her predecessor on the company’s partner program from a North America standpoint, and when she first stepped into the role of European channel director she spent time analysing where CrowdStrike stood within the market. Adams found that the company had done well establishing strong partnerships with core resellers across all of Europe. She added, “The UK is our most mature market, and so the partnerships that we have there are the most established.”
Her focus for coming into Europe was to listen to local feedback, understand the needs of CrowdStrike’s European partners, and adjust the partner programme for the region. Last year, CrowdStrike expanded its consulting partners programme, with the company hiring its first alliance manager focused on MSSP partnerships in Northern Europe in May of 2020. That strategic hire matured Adams’ team’s knowledge of how to engage with partners beyond just making marginal deals, and also matured the company’s partners’ understanding of how they can include managed services within their offerings.
Adams explained CrowdStrike’s European channel team had five team members in 2017, and now has 25 staff – reflecting the importance of the channel to the company’s go-to-market strategy. Adams said, “It’s been great for our partners, because we’ve invested into the infrastructure, which is: the people, the programmes, our marketing support, our headcount. We will continue to invest in our alliances team, but last year was a big significant growth year for us, and we’re seeing those results pay off.”
When asked about key learnings during her first year as European channel director, Adams said, “I’ve had some really frank conversations with partners in the region around what’s worked versus what we need to focus on improving. We implemented our local partner advisory board meetings for the first time ever and had three [meetings] last year, which is a lot, but meant that we got a lot of great feedback. A lot of really candid feedback of where we needed to grow as a team, and luckily, we took a lot of that feedback back to the US and said, “Hey, this is what we need to adjust.” There was a couple of key changes in the programme that has really benefited our partners.
“When we bring business to our partner community, we’re pretty clear on how we’re going to work together and engage. We call that teaming; it’s a CrowdStrike-sourced or -lead opportunity, where we’re teaming together on opportunity, and we’re giving them additional pricing advantages or a discount to team with us. Last year was the first year we rolled it out, [and] there was some confusion in the market of what we were requiring our partners to do. So, we added some language into our programme guidelines to [outline] the expectations of [our partner’s] role when we’re working on an opportunity together. Those changes into the programme guide came from local partners in the UK, and having that feedback was great.
“Another thing that we were able to update and change because of those partner advisory board meetings and local conversations is making sure that we’re providing [partners with] a pricing advantage for renewals. We want to make sure we’re rewarding their investments in CrowdStrike. So, for those partners, depending upon the level, we change the pricing advantage: the more they’re investing with us, the higher their status, the higher the renewal pricing advantage is. That was a direct influence of a UK partner that has effected our global partner programme. The UK in particular has had a very strong voice for CrowdStrike’s partner programme.”
To the cloud
Crowdstrike will continue to evolve its partner programme, and is always assessing what is working in the market. Adams pointed to the cloud as the centre of success moving forward. She explained, “The partners that have excelled, or really have grown through Covid, have looked at opportunities within the cloud. That’s where I’ve seen the biggest uptick within security, we had a couple of promotions [around] helping customers shift from that office environment, to working remotely. I don’t believe it’s going to be a hybrid environment. Some companies will go back to the offices, some already have, and some will not. Having partners who are able to support clients who’ve implemented offerings, centred around cloud, will continue to do really well.”