Alliant Technologies, a VAR, Sets Sights on Telecom Agents

In another indication that the telecom and IT channels are indeed coming together, Alliant Technologies, a VAR that represents more than a dozen hardware and software suppliers, has kicked off a partner program targeting telecom agents.

The two-tier structure will allow telecom agents who are more accustomed to selling voice and data services to offer IT products to their enterprise customers. The new program is thanks to Bill Madison, Alliants director of channel sales and partner development, who hails from the telecom world he served as president of a telecom consulting company for more than nine years. Still, the idea of a VAR opening itself to agents remains somewhat of a foreign concept.

Its different than partnering, say, with a MegaPath,” said Madison. Thats because the 12-year-old Alliant works with infrastructure and managed services providers, rather than carriers. For example, its suppliers include Cisco Systems Inc., NetApp, Microsoft, VMware. Alliant even employs IT engineers that handle outsourcing for clients including LOréal

Alliants services include managed services, backup and recovery, network monitoring, and virtualized data centers. Some ideal customers include companies that need to reduce IT staff without sacrificing vigilance over e-mail, servers and other important functions.

The depth of our offerings is pretty robust,” said Madison, especially when stacked up against a service providers portfolio, he said.

Madison said the agents he has spoken to appear to be interested in the Alliant program since its incremental to their core business of working with carriers. What it does is allow them to have another product in their set of offerings that theyve never had before,” he said.

Alliant is seeking independent sales agents, rather than master agents, and expects to pay an upfront commission and a monthly residual. Some commissions can reach as high as 70 percent on higher-end deals, Madison said. Theres also a referral program for agents who just want to receive a one-time payout for sales closed.

The good news for agents is that they dont have to know a lot about IT to successfully sell for Alliant. Alliant has its own technical experts who help agents craft the right platforms for clients.

Meanwhile, support on the channel program side includes an agent portal with proposal systems, marketing information, collateral and more.

Alliant does have a direct salesforce but Madison doesnt expect that to cause conflict. If the direct and indirect channels happen to overlap, the agents will win, if I have it my way,” Madison said. Still, because the market for Alliants products is so vast, Madison said hed be surprised if such a situation arises.

All in all, Madison said the time for an agent-oriented VAR opportunity is overdue. Were at a crossroads where youve got to get on board or get out” of the industry, he said. The confluence of telecom and IT is the next logical ship.”

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