Sales Veteran Looks To Boost Kaspersky SMB Growth


Kaspersky Lab is attempting to fuel sales of its endpoint security suite in the upper midmarket and enterprise space, but John Salamone, the security vendor's newly appointed vice president of SMB sales, said the lower end of the market continues to be of strategic importance in North America.

Salamone, who started the job just days before the Kaspersky's North American Partner Summit in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, said he has met with a variety of the company's partners. Kaspersky's mature partner program only needs some subtle changes to continue to grow market share against its competitors, Salamone said.

"There are always areas for improvement and optimization, and I'm going through the review process now to understand our strengths and weaknesses," Salamone told CRN. "By no means is our team broken, but I'm here to pour gas on the fire and make it roar."

[Related: Kaspersky Lab Unveils Named Accounts Strategy To Boost Sales At Large Enterprises]

Salamone said he has worked for channel-centric companies, has managed teams supporting a partner ecosystem, and is a believer in the channel's ability to grow sales and sustain long-term ties with customers. He served as vice president of sales at Waltham, Mass.-based video presentation platform maker Brainshark. There, he managed a team of national account managers responsible for bringing in new business. Prior to Brainshark, Salamone served in a number of different positions, including senior director of worldwide distribution channel, embedded software division, at Mentor Graphics.

The company's manual processes are being reviewed to determine where some areas could be automated and optimized to improve efficiency, Salamone said. He also is breaking down established objectives into monthly goals and quotas for the staff that supports SMB sales.  

Salamone's hire comes as Kaspersky is investing heavily in additional headcount and new programs intended to move up the market to larger, enterprise sales. In May, the company hired William Cunningham as vice president of enterprise sales in North America, and he has been adding staff and other resources. At its partner summit last month, Kaspersky executives unveiled a premium level Platinum support option aimed at larger firms, and channel chief Chris Doggett said the company was rolling out a named account strategy. A team of field sales reps is engaging larger businesses, but Doggett told CRN they are instructed to bring in a regional partner for every deal.  Kaspersky will remain 100 percent channel, he said.

Kaspersky partners told CRN that they are watching Doggett and other executives make internal adjustments to sustain the momentum in the U.S.  Brand recognition has grown and sales in the midmarket grew by more than 42 percent, helping Kaspersky gain market share against competitors Sophos, Trend Micro, McAfee and Symantec. The company, however, is experiencing increased pressure in the small-business space, where partners can offer small-business clients the choice of a crowded list of antivirus vendors, including AVG, Avast, ESET and ThreatTrack Security (Vipre).

"We've been happy with Kaspersky Lab and had a number of big wins," said Carl-Henry Salvant, president and CEO of Pembroke Pines, Fla.-based Salvant & Associates, who said he has sold into a number of local governments and school districts. "They have been very proactive about constantly improving their enablement activities."

In a statement, Doggett said Salamone's "experience in establishing and managing inside, direct and indirect sales teams focused on new customer acquisition is invaluable for Kaspersky Lab."

Kaspersky executives and partners also are closely watching the tension between Russia and U.S. over the Ukraine's Crimea region for any potential impact on sales in the U.S. The White House imposed economic sanctions and visa restrictions on Russian officials Thursday, limiting the extent of the sanctions on those responsible for supporting the Russian incursion into Ukraine.

A Kaspersky spokesperson issued a formal statement to CRN Tuesday. While the company's global headquarters and product research and development is in Moscow, its financial holdings are in the U.K., the spokesperson said.

"Kaspersky Lab is a privately held, independent global company with no political ties to the Russian or any other government," according to the company statement. "We do not comment on politics or geopolitical implications as it's not the purpose of our work or area of expertise. Kaspersky Lab is an IT security company and focuses on the technical analysis of malware and cybersecurity issues. As a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have political ties to any government, and has customers among the private and public sector all over the world."

PUBLISHED MARCH 6, 2014