Avaya Names Top Partners, Initiates New Channel Execs

With recent layoffs and new channel executives, Avaya had a lot to talk about at its worldwide sales kickoff event.

The gearmaker announced its BusinessPartners of the Year in six categories as follows:

  • Enterprise Partner: XETA Technologies
  • SMB Partner: All Business Communications
  • Services Partner: Daycom Systems
  • Communications Applications Partner: Relational Technologies
  • Small Business Applications: NACR
  • Distributor of the Year: Voda One

The sales meeting was also one of the first large Avaya gatherings for the company’s two newer channel executives: Jeremy Butt, who joined the company as worldwide channel chief in June, and Carol Giles Neslund, who joined Avaya as North American channel vice president this month.

When asked about joining Avaya, Neslund said, “I’m really looking forward to being part of the channel team at Avaya. … The executive alignment at this company is around making Avaya a very channel-centric organization. It’s better than any organization I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m really looking forward to driving that channel-centric model inside our company so that we can be successful and be No. 1.”

With only two weeks at Avaya under her belt, Neslund’s main priorities right now are getting to know the Avaya partner community and her team. Butt also has spent time in the United States and EMEA familiarizing himself with the market, the products and the opportunities.

“We have a good market position and a lot of opportunity to grow,” said Butt. “The program that we’ve got is not a bad program, but the main issue I see with the program is that it’s not consistent around the world.” Butt explained one of his main goals for the channel program at Avaya is worldwide streamlined consistency.

“Unquestionably, the way for us to grow is through the channel,” said Butt about the company’s channel commitment. “And a lot of changes in management we’ve had in recent months have been people with a lot of channel experience.”

Avaya currently does about 50 percent of its business through the channel; Butt said the goal is to reach the 85 percent mark over the next few years.

Avaya’s recent layoffs, Butt said, are in no way related to the company’s goal to grow the channel. “Contrary to what some people believe, when you’re successful in the channel, you need to actually increase the number of people in the high-touch sales role,” Butt explained. “The model we’re pushing is high-touch, channel-centric. It’s where the direct sales force is working with the end-user customer directly, and they, early on, engage the partner in the opportunity. Or the partner might bring up the opportunity, and they may need some high-touch sales assistance.”

Deborah Kline, Avaya’s senior manager of public relations, said the changes and reorganization over the past year have been “organizing for growth.”

Neslund said the indirect channel is more critical to Avaya’s success now than it ever has been. Therefore, Neslund and Butt intend to look at the programmatic structure of Avaya’s channel operations in the coming year and focus on simplifying business processes. “The more time spent working through difficult processes essentially is less time selling,” said Butt.

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