**Editor’s Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**
The change coincides with the carrier also announcing that it is extending its partner program internationally, starting in Europe. In the future, VPP also will be rolled out into the Asia-Pacific and Latin America regions.
The unprecedented access to enterprise accounts delivers on Verizon’s previously announced goal of having 98 percent of accounts addressable by the channel. In February, the carrier opened 11,000 business accounts to its indirect sales partners.
With the latest move, less than 200 accounts remain protected, but even those are open to partners through teaming with Verizon’s direct team, said Janet Schijns, vice president of medium business and channel for Verizon, in an interview with Channel Partners.
All other enterprise accounts can be solicited by VPP members on their own or through teaming.
“They do not need to have a Verizon person with them, but when they want a Verizon person with them, that will be available,” Schijns said.
When a partner uncovers something and can handle it themselves, Verizon will preapprove those deals through deal registration. “We do want to have visibility in those channel deals, so that we can support the partner’s requests” for quick turnaround or complex contracts, for example, Schijns said.
To get that to work culturally within Verizon, the carrier has initiated an internal certification for its sales teams to help them understand partners business models, how they make money, how customers benefit and the rules of engagement. Similarly, it also is helping the partners with the right training and certification and a way to engage client executives via enhancements to the Salesforce.com PRM tool.
“We aren’t going to open the accounts to the indirect channel partners and hope for the best,” added Schijns. “We are going to compensate our direct teams, our overlays and sales engineers, etc., to support the channel partners in those accounts.”
The move to open enterprise accounts to the channel was meant to “empower the partners … to help our largest enterprise customers who are asking for local and technical and complex support to get to the benefits of some of the newest technology,” said Schijns.
Schijns explained that business customers have requested Verizon work collaboratively with its solutions partners. “They told us, ‘As we strive to move to the cloud, it gets more complicated before it gets simpler. … It’s clear that we need a group of people at the table in the board room not a line of vendors in the hall. We need you, Verizon, to help us to bring the right partners to the table or when the right partners are at the table to be at the table with them,’” Schijns said.
Schijns is optimistic about the prospects for the integrated sales approach. This is due in part to the fact that the model has been tested successfully in the Verizon Wireless partner program for the past year and a half.
VPP is open to systems integrators, VARs, agents and solution that want to sell Verizon’s cloud, mobility and connected device (i.e., machine-to-machine) solutions. Since the program’s relaunch in February 2013, Verizon reports a 145 percent increase in the number of VPP members.
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