Exclusive: NTT America Readies Channel Program

**Editor’s Note: Click here for a list of recent channel-program changes you should know.**

Agents who want to sell network and cloud services to customers within and outside of the United States soon will have a new option in NTT America.

Rob WesterveltNTT America, which is headquartered in Japan, has tapped Rob Westervelt and Kevin Goodman – both familiar faces to partners – to build and run its channel efforts here. The program will make its official launch at the upcoming Cloud Partners event in New Orleans.

And while NTT Communications is an approximately $130 billion corporation, partners don’t have to worry about the red tape and bureaucratic thinking that often accompany such large organizations.

“We’re a small division, very nimble, and when you look at financial stability of the company, it’s a good feeling that NTT obviously has the stability to stay the course,” Westervelt said.

Westervelt comes to NTT America from Broadview Networks, where he led the channel from January 2010 until earlier this year; prior to Broadview, he spent seven years as XO Communications’ channel chief.

Goodman, meanwhile, worked for Broadview Networks and the company it acquired, InfoHighway Communications, for a little more than a decade. Kevin Goodman

Now, it’s up to Westervelt and Goodman to construct NTT America’s channel initiative. Westervelt is channel vice president and general manager, while Goodman is director of channel strategy and marketing. Both fall under NTT America’s Global Solutions division. Together, Westervelt and Goodman aim to enable partners to offer data center access, public and private cloud computing, and network services throughout the world.  

To that point, it might seem odd that NTT is just now starting a channel program in the United States. It’s because two factors are coming into play, Westervelt and Goodman explained.

First, there’s impetus from NTT America’s executive vice president of sales, Chris Eldredge, who joined the company about a year ago from Telx. At that time, Eldredge oversaw two units: Global Solutions, and a network and data center division. Each of those employed a direct sales strategy but the indirect aspect was missing. Now, those two businesses are combined and Eldredge – whom agents also will remember from Broadview and Frontier Communications – has decided it’s time for NTT America to include the channel.

In addition, said Goodman, “the market has matured to the point where channel partners have internal expertise or desire to go after accounts NTT can support.”

On that note, Westervelt says NTT America wants partners “who understand that things are moving to the cloud. We’re not looking for folks selling PRIs and T1s.”

Rather, the provider needs agents – master, sub and independent – who understand cloud computing. Because of that requirement, Westervelt does not expect to sign a large number of partners to the new program.

“It’s not a thousand…it’s probably a hundred-plus,” he said.

With that in mind, Westervelt continues to hammer out the terms and conditions to which partners must agree. At press time, he was not able to unveil specifics; the details will be made public at Cloud Partners in September.

However, Westervelt did say this: “I have a very channel-focused way of looking at things. …I think partners will look at it as a very partner-friendly agreement, unlike some that are out there today. I tried to take the best of breed of agreements and make ours mutually agreeable.”

There will, for example, be an evergreen clause for partners within the top two higher-commitment tiers. The lowest level, referral, does not pay evergreens, which is typical.

And even though Westervelt has not finalized NTT America’s approach to channel conflict, he has some thoughts.

“If it’s an existing NTT account, it would be considered off-limits,” he said. “If an agent brings it in, it would be protected on their end as well. As far as new logos, new accounts, it’s open territory right now and we will manage conflict. …There’s always a way to make it a win-win for everybody. “

When it comes to agents’ responsibilities, they are tasked with selling, not worrying about the back-office.

“We’re looking for partners to bring us the opportunities where they are the trusted adviser, but we’ll do the heavy lifting – billing, sales engineering, support,” Westervelt said. “We’re going to try to make it a lot easier than some of our competitors do.”

Goodman agreed.

“We know what [partners] need to be successful,” he said. “There’s a big difference between a company starting a channel program as opposed to one with channel expertise in-house.”

In terms of enablement, expect webinars, white papers, training and other resources. For support, Westervelt has brought on Joe Corvaia, who has worked for Broadview, Cloudamize, Evolve IP and other providers, to oversee sales engineering. Meantime, Westervelt himself is on the hunt for three regional sales directors – one for the West Coast, one for the East Coast and one for the Midwest.

“We’ll hire directors first then, as the channel grows, we’ll look at specific markets where we’re having success and we’ll put channel managers in those markets,” Westervelt said.

For now, Westervelt and Goodman will spend the last few weeks leading up to Cloud Partners solidifying all the details.

“We’ve been taking the time to roll this out the right way,” Goodman said.

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