John Eldh has been a busy guy since taking the channel chief position at Symantec in March. His first task: Drive a “channel first” mentality into the organization. It’s still early days, and the company has had other executive issues to deal with, but Wall Street has hopes for Symantec’s growth, which Eldh said can’t happen without its partners. So what does he have in mind?

“We need to do a better job leveraging both our direct sales force and the partner community together,” Eldh said. “We’re working hard to build relationships based on trust and consistency where both the partner and Symantec are driving profitable growth together.”

Core to that strategy is changing the culture at Symantec to drive a “more partner-centric culture with even greater intimacy for lift and leverage,” he added.

To that end, the company has adopted a “teaming concept” with its sales organization, moving its channel teams to report directly to the Region vice presidents with a dotted line back to Eldh. “We wanted to move our direct sales teams closer to our field teams so collectively we could do more planning and working with our partner community to drive tighter relationships.”

Such a framework provides tighter and greater accountability at regional level, he said. “It collapses those silos and creates a better understanding of the value proposition both ways. Channel [sales], field [sales] and partners working together -- all of sudden it’s not everyone collectively asking, What is the mission and how do we achieve our goals? Because we’re all on the same page.”

Symantec Partner Engage 2012, where new CEO Steve Bennett will make an appearance, will provide the first indication of whether the new sales alignment is indeed helping partners. Also on tap will be an update on the company’s incentive programs, which have been under the microscope since Eldh took the helm.
“The intent is to begin rolling out differentiated competitive financial incentive programs to enhance partner margins,” he said. “[For example,] cross-sell and upsell opportunities that come with renewals.”

Symantec will announce some of those programs at Partner Engage, he added, and roll out different elements throughout the course of the year.

So far, Eldh seems to be on the right track. We’ll be keeping our ears to the ground at Partner Engage to hear whether Symantec’s intentions have been put into action. And whether those actions are helping or hurting Symantec’s partners.