Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses and spam, has announced increased support for partners through more focused account management, more assistance with lead generation and renewal business, as well as training schemes and individual qualifications. This added value to Sophos's partner programme comes as a direct result of the second annual survey of its reseller base.

Results of its 2004/2005 channel survey have provided Sophos with a stronger understanding of its resellers' needs and expectations - enabling it to further improve channel-specific strategies. The survey focused around five core areas: product, the Sophos Partner Program, sales support, technical support and marketing assistance.

With an objective to increase lead generation, Sophos's new business development team will work more closely with channel partners to identify and develop opportunities. The team will generate qualified sales leads within the 100 to 1,000 seat opportunity by focusing on specific targets. Companies with more than 1,000 users will be catered for by Sophos's corporate sales team, which will help develop new business and upgrade opportunities for the channel by increasing direct touch with the end-user.

The channel survey results showed a high level of value felt for anti-virus and anti-spam renewal business. Sophos has therefore implemented far-reaching customer retention programmes. These efforts are further reinforced by the recently announced expansion of the company's UK sales team, which gives resellers one dedicated point-of-contact for both new and renewal business. The changes, designed to improve the flow of information and help maximise renewal rates, will drive additional revenue back to the channel through customer upgrades and cross-sell.

More than a third of UK partners have attended Sophos training courses - rating both the quality of the presentations and presenters, as well as the value of the training, as very good or excellent. The survey highlighted the need to increase the availability and diversity of courses. As a result, Sophos now offers courses on a monthly basis and has introduced training for its small business suite. It also offers individual technical qualifications on completion of post-course exams in Sophos Anti-Virus for Windows, PureMessage and Small Business Solutions.

Further benefits for partners include new initiatives designed to develop joint sales, and marketing plans with even greater scope for financially based marketing campaigns.

"The survey and subsequent changes aim to bring tangible benefits to our partners," said Stuart Small, UK sales and marketing director at Sophos. "Maintaining reseller loyalty is key to our success. By bringing this extra value to the Sophos partner businesses, we can help our partners differentiate themselves from the competition."

With 72% of partners rating the Sophos Partner Program and technical support as better or far better than competitor efforts, Sophos has proven its commitment to its partners.

The survey consisted of 163 questions. 48% of respondents were partners, 43% were authorised resellers, 7% were certified partners and 2% non-authorised resellers.

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