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Avaya Overhauls Partner Program

Avaya Inc. is overhauling its channel program with the introduction Wednesday of Avaya Connect, a new framework for its partner program worldwide that streamlines processes, pricing, training and certification requirements.

The program, which is effective Feb. 1, is being rolled out to Avaya’s North American, Central American and Latin American partners during the 2010 Avaya Americas Partner Conference this week in Nashville. More than 950 partners attended the meeting. Avaya Connect will be introduced at partner events in Europe, Middle East and Africa in November, and in the Asia Pacific region at the beginning of the year.

Carol Giles Neslund, vice president of channels for North America, told PHONE+ Avaya Connect simplifies the qualifications and clarifies the benefits of program participation for partners.

For example, Avaya Connect streamlines the new partner application process to less than two hours. And, the company has trimmed its pricing model to a single, global price list to make it easier for partners to understand and faster to develop quotes.

In addition, Neslund pointed to a significant change in the sales incentives from using post-sales rebates to providing point-of-sale credits, which basically enables partners to spend more time selling and less time processing rebate requests.

Neslund also said Avaya Connect changes the training model, moving it from point products to solutions and eliminating redundancy, so that partners need to spend fewer hours training. (In some cases, the time commitment is decreased by up to 50 percent, the company said.) The new training program has been streamlined from nearly 97 learning and certification tracks to 13 solutions-based tracks.

Furthermore, Neslund said the certification process has been changed to be “competency-based.” This means partners will become certified on a solution and will attain metal levels (authorized, silver, gold and platinum) based on sales of those solutions.

Avaya is also extending its Services Expert and Small and Medium Enterprise Expert specializations globally. These specializations recognize partners that have developed a strong services or small-midsize enterprise practice. Both designations were previously only available in North America.

The new program also includes a Geographic Designation component to better support the needs of multinational customers and the partners who support them. Regional- or global-level designations will help these customers find the right partners for their needs, while taking advantage of centralized resources where it makes sense.

Neslund said Avaya Connect is a platform on which the company can now build. Uniquely, she said it enables partners to work with Avaya using their own business models rather than changing them to fit Avaya’s.

Neslund added that the platform also will speed integration of the channel program from the pending acquisition of Nortel Networks’ enterprise division. Should the transaction receive regulatory approval, the Nortel channel program can more easily overlay on a globally consistent framework, she said. Nortel, while significantly channel-focused, also has had a fragmented program globally, she said, so Avaya Connect will simplify the channel organization for Nortel partners as well.


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