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Q&A with Tanium’s Todd Palmer, One of CRN’s Most Influential Channel Chiefs of 2021

Tanium’s channel leader explains why the company is investing in its partners and how it's evolving the Tanium Partner Advantage program


Inside Tanium, we’ve known for some time that Todd Palmer, our new global head of partner sales, is an impressive guy. But now, the outside world has taken note of Todd’s excellence, too.

Palmer was recently named to the 2021 CRN Channel Chief list, the definitive guide to channel management’s movers and shakers. CRN’s editors chose Todd based on his channel track record, industry standing, dedication to partners, and plans for channel innovation and growth.

To learn more, contributing writer Peter Krass recently caught up with Todd.

Congratulations on being named a 2021 CRN Channel Chief. What do you think caught the editors’ attention?

Todd Palmer: Tanium is making an unbelievable commitment to building out an indirect go-to-market model. It’s a complete transition. And everyone in the company has bought into this strategy. That’s evident in the considerable investment we’re making in resources and the message to and expectations of sales teams.

We’re responding to the three main priorities for all partners. One, they want to know if your product is innovative. Two, they want to know if they can create a profitable business model out of your technology and partnership. And three, they want to know how you’re going to help them make money.

Over the last 10 months or so, we’ve defined our strategy to answer those partner questions. Fortunately, we already had an innovative and powerful platform. Now we also offer a great value proposition for partners, the best I’ve ever seen. And we’ve enhanced our business model so that our salespeople are rewarded for working with our go-to-market partners.

What’s more, this is happening now. I’ve never seen a company transition its business that quickly.

Tanium used to sell direct only but is now expanding the ecosystem. Why the big change, and why now?

Todd Palmer: One big reason is that end users rely on the channel for recommendations about technology. While we were out there talking about Tanium, much of the channel and broader partner community was not. We realized that if we’re going to scale the business the way we know is possible, we’ll need other people to talk about our value and benefits.

And partners already have ongoing businesses. Their customers trust them. That, in turn, can help Tanium. Working with our partners, we can extend our reach, increase our capabilities, build our brand, and increase our sellers’ productivity.

Another point relates to managed services. More than half of end-user organizations are either using managed services now or would like to soon. They don’t want to run the technology anymore; they want someone else to run it for them. Well, Tanium’s products are tailor-made for managed services providers (MSPs).

And we’ve just launched an MSP program with a pricing model that offers additional margins for MSPs who want to bolster our products with their support. We’ve also structured the program to ensure that our salespeople don’t compete with our MSP partners.

Last year, the company launched the Tanium Partner Advantage Program. What is the program, and how does it work?

Todd Palmer: Until last year, we didn’t have a partner program. The partners we did have were engaged with no rules, no governance and no true standard pricing. This meant no predictability and no consistency. So in May 2020, we launched our first partner program, Tanium Partner Advantage.

The cornerstone of the program is an opportunity registration program that provides deal protection and rewards partners for driving new Tanium business. Here’s how it works. If a partner finds a Tanium sales opportunity, they submit a registration with us. Once we approve it, that partner gets the best pricing available, better than any other partner can get for that specific opportunity. That means once the project goes to bids, the partner can rest assured that no one else can compete with them based on price or margin. In this way, our partners gain the confidence to commit the time, energy and other resources needed to win a big contract.

Tanium Partner Advantage also includes a pricing discount structure for our partners. That’s important, but we never had it before. A discount schedule helps partners predict what their pricing will be when they work with us.

We’ve also created canned sales plays and marketing campaigns for our channel partners to use. These include email scripts, presentations and demos. Now we can say to our partners: “If you invest in Tanium, we’ll invest in helping you build your business.”

Finally, we’ve launched our first-ever partner portal. Partners go online to access marketing and sales resources, training courses and more.

How will you help partners get up to speed on the technical aspects of the Tanium Platform?

Todd Palmer: We’ve made a massive investment in building out persona-based curricula. For a Tanium partner — whether you’re in sales, pre-sales, support or services — many of the courses are web-based and available on demand. We’ve invested our time and money to help partners build their technical capabilities.

We’re also giving our partners other resources to help their own teams understand the power of Tanium, as well as to demo Tanium to prospects and customers. These include proof-of-concepts (POCs), demo labs and equipment. Between our training and resources, we believe this is everything needed to educate our partners’ technical teams.

What is the value that the Tanium platform brings to partners?

Todd Palmer: There are several. One big value comes from the fact that our product is a platform. So let’s say a partner installs our platform with a customer for patch management. Later, the partner can tell that customer, “Now that you have patch management, if you’d like other capabilities — say, threat management or compliance management — all I have to do is turn them on. They’re already installed.”

For the partner, that’s essentially an annuity. They sell Tanium just once; then they have all these expansion opportunities.

Is there any valuable professional advice you’ve received that’s helped you become a channel leader?

Todd Palmer: It came from Tom Mendoza, one of the original folks at NetApp. He served as the company’s vice president of North American sales, then its president, and then as vice-chairman. Tom liked to say, “People don’t care what you know unless they know that you care.”

Tom didn’t say that to me directly, but to everyone at the company, although we all took it personally. Now, as I’m heading Tanium’s partner organization, that statement has become relevant again.

When partners consider vendors to do business with and invest in, they have many, many choices. We think our products are the greatest thing ever, but so do all the other companies. I believe the difference comes down to this: partnering is 100 percent about people. If partners don’t believe that you’re sincerely interested in helping them succeed, they won’t care about you. But if they do believe, you can win over their hearts and minds and you’ll have a partner for life.

Learn more about the value of the Tanium Partner Advantage program on our website.

Tanium Staff

Tanium’s village of experts co-writes as Tanium Staff, sharing their lens on security, IT operations, and other relevant topics across the business and cybersphere.

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