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Channel Chief: Sandra Hilt, Vectra

Channel Chief: Sandra Hilt, Vectra

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Vectra sells 100% via the channel and uses a two-tier channel model in EMEA. Sandra Hilt, Senior Director – Channel Sales EMEA, Vectra, explains how she works with partners to ensure they stay competitive.

Describe your current job role and the parts that are somewhat challenging?

I joined Vectra as its first dedicated channel hire in EMEA, therefore my role covers all aspects of building and running our channel, from creating a channel strategy and partner programme and building processes to identifying and recruiting the right partners and of course building a successful Vectra channel team. To support me, I have a growing team of channel account managers across EMEA, where we cover 47 countries. This means we have to prioritise, work smart and leverage the expertise of Value Added Distribution partners to extend our reach and ensure we can effectively support and enable our channel partners.

Can you explain how your company works with channel partners?

Vectra sells 100% via the channel and uses a two-tier channel model in EMEA. Our channel programme is focused on value creation for the partner and has various elements tailored to fit differing business models. We provide a blend of face to face and online sales and technical training along with certifications for all our partners. There’s co-marketing tools, campaigns and funding programmes available along with a range of business development tools including demo platforms, deal registration, sales enablement updates and technical communities. We’ll work with prospective partners to build a joint plan and once both sides are happy and committed, we’ll resource and execute it together for mutual success.

We work closely with our channel partners and their customers and prospects to ensure evaluations are successful and deployments deliver on the security value that Vectra Cognito has demonstrated. Vectra Value Added Distributors then overlay additional commercial services and support to ensure all parts of the Vectra value chain work easily and efficiently for our partners.

How do you ensure channel partners flourish in a highly competitive market?

I think it boils down to our technology. Customers regularly tell us that our Cognito Network Detection and Response (NDR) platform reduces their security workload and accelerates the detection and response to hidden threats that have defeated or bypassed their defensive controls. With security breaches regularly making the news cycle, we consistently hear how our high fidelity, low noise detection alerts enable security incidents to be identified and responded to quickly, before they become high severity damaging events. Ease of use and integration, along with high praise for our award-winning customer care and support, see industry leading customer satisfaction and renewal rates for Vectra in the growing NDR market. We win the overwhelming majority of competitive sales bids. Like any expanding market there are alternatives, yet, when we come across competing vendors, we invariably win through a combination of differentiated technology that does what it promises, our security practitioner expertise, the breadth of our third party integrations and, of course, channel partner relationship.

What are the latest trends you see emerging across the channel?

I think we are seeing a shift in channel business models. In the past there was a clear definition and understanding of different partner business models – we had resellers, system integrators, service providers, distributors, etc. However, today’s channel partners are increasingly service-led trusted advisors to their customers and consequently, different service engagements are becoming more and more important. I see Managed Services, Cloud Services, Consulting and Financial Services becoming increasingly important for customers.

What is your management philosophy?

Treat your employees like you would like to be treated yourself! I set objectives, then act as a coach, a team member and a trusted advisor. I don´t believe in micromanagement; I prefer empowerment, trust and guidance.

When you look back at your career what has been the most memorable achievement?

That is a really difficult question as they’re so many memories that stand out in my career so far – for example, I still fondly remember my first big customer win! I also pride myself on building long-term trust and loyalty in the relationships I enjoy with my channel partners, many of whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends. Moving into a management role with Vectra was a new challenge and building a wonderful, loyal, hardworking channel team has been very rewarding. I am very proud of them!

What made you think of a career in technology?

I actually started my career as a travel agent before eventually moving into technology. I was looking for a new challenge and higher salary opportunities than the travel industry could offer. A good friend suggested a job in IT and made an introduction and the rest, as they say, is history! Over time I made my way from inside sales into field sales and then moved into the security channel about 20 years ago. Working with the xhannel became my passion and my career.

What do you think will be the hot technology talking point for the next 12 months?

When I started working for Vectra about two and a half years ago, the hottest topic in our space was Artificial Intelligence (AI) and I was lucky to be joining a company with both security and AI expertise. You’ll see us add even more innovation around the use of AI in Network Detection and Response (NDR), especially in the cloud so that we can stay ahead of emerging attacker tactics, techniques and procedures.

What are your personal interests and where do you like to spend most of your time after work?

I spend most of my free time with my husband (and my two cats), preferably in our garden or in our little spa area. We both also enjoy travelling whenever we can, whether these be short city breaks, skiing weekends or relaxing on the beautiful beaches around the world. Last but not least, I am a passionate singer and member of a classic rock band.

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