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Verizon Channel Chief: Partners Must Change 'or Perish'

By Khali Henderson
January 08, 2014 - Article

Verizon's Janet SchijnsIt's no secret that Verizon Communications has had an on-again, off-again relationship with the indirect sales channel. But in 2013, the No. 2 carrier made its most significant commitment to the channel, rolling out a comprehensive IT-style partner program, including deal registration, market development funds, marketing support and even certifications and specializations. The company hired Janet Schijns, a well-known IT channel expert, to spearhead this effort, knowing full well that only a serious overture would win over a skeptical channel. Schijns, as vice president of medium business and channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, is giving the channel opportunities to sell to ever-larger customers, lifetime access to approved accounts, credit for past training toward certification and free CRM licenses. What's more, Schijns and her team are offering partners not only education and assistance but funding to transform their go-to-market strategies for the realities of today's technology purchasing environment.

Schijns will share her advice for making the pivot in her Keynote Address, "Shift or Bust!  Driving Channel Transformation," at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Feb. 26-28 in Las Vegas. Channel Partners interviewed Schijns to get a preview of her remarks. Here is an excerpt from that interview.

Since you joined Verizon, there has been a 180° change in the company’s approach to the channel. Can you explain why?

As you look at what's happening with the customers, there are three key things:

  1. The customer decision maker is shifting to IT and lines of business. In that space, the VAR, the partner usually has that final-mile relationship.
  2. We've got this new technology paradigm where mobility and cloud and security are creating these new buying patterns and people are no longer saying, "Quote me how much for this much speed or this much storage." The channel is more flexible and able to respond there.
  3. Finally, partners' solutions are really ruling the roost. The best solutions are what matter, so we want to invest and embrace the solution ecosystem in the partners that would help us to innovate.

Those three things — the changing decision maker, the change in how technology is being sold and the change in the amount of solutions coming into the market — led to our wanting to embrace the channel.

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