CHANNEL PARTNERS — Verizon Enterprise Solutions (Booth 8004), lured by the lucrative nature of the midmarket and that sector's penchant for working with agents and VARs, has overhauled its channel partner program.
The news may come as a bit of a happy shock to partners. Since 2010, many have felt shut out by Verizon as the provider reclassified agent accounts lists as protected and cut commissions by an alleged two-thirds. Verizon did a U-turn in early 2011 but its reputation in the channel did not, anecdotally speaking, experience much improvement.
That's about to change.
This week at the Spring 2013 Channel Partners Conference & Expo, Verizon is rolling out its revamped channel program, to some top partner acclaim. Ken Mercer, vice president of sales for Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI), said his agency is "honored...to move forward with the re-envisioning of the Verizon channel program." And Charles Kriete, executive vice president of value-added distributor Tech Data's TDMobility unit, said Verizon "has really stepped up in the channel." Now, he said, Tech Data will be able to offer 4G tablet, including iPad, activation to resellers, as well as other hot mobility services.
That kind of praise has been a long time coming for Verizon's partner program and is in large part a result of Janet Schijns' efforts. Schijns came to Verizon in late 2010 from Motorola, joining the Business Solutions Group. She then moved into the vertical solutions and channels division in January 2012, where she works as vice president. Her direction has been key to Verizon's new commitment to partners.
"I've never not been in the channel...so my being here should indicate to the partners that this is serious," Schijns told Channel Partners in an exclusive interview. "I own the channel here with Richard [Williams, executive director of channels] and both of us are very trusted."
But it's not just Schijns and Williams driving or supporting the change. At a kickoff event earlier this year, Schijns said, Verizon Enterprise President John Stratton dubbed the indirect channel as one of his top priorities. The CMO is on board, too, as is the new senior vice president of Americas sales, among other company leaders.
Partners Are 'The Critical Go-To-Market'
Of course, Verizon isn't acting on a philanthropic urge – it is a for-profit corporation that sees mid-market firms turning more to channel partners than to direct sales, and it wants in on those deals. Indeed, according to an October 2012 report from The NPD Group, SMBs (companies with fewer than 1,000 employees) expect to purchase more and more of their hardware and complex services from channel partners. Verizon is observing the same trend.
"The channel is where...where small and medium businesses, are turning for their solutions," said Schijns. "Channel partners are the critical go-to-market."
And because partners are so crucial to mid-market penetration, Verizon has beefed up its indirect compensation, support, partnering options and more. With that in mind, here are the changes Verizon has implemented to attract more mid-market-focused partners: