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Nortel Revives Channel Strategy


Nortel Networks Ltd. has unveiled a new strategy for renewing its North American enterprise channel program. Project Renaissance places VARs at the center of plans to drive growth in the SMB segment, particularly for Nortels VoIP solutions.

Project Renaissance Principles

Eight new initiatives for upgrading and updating the Nortel channel program are aimed at making it easier to interact with the vendor. These include:

  • Services

firmly embed services within Nortels broader enterprise channel strategy to deliver value-added service offerings.

  • Training
  • further develop and maintain a suite of channel sales-training modules that focus on foundational skills and knowledge, hands-on lab sessions and sales certification.

  • Tools
  • further integrate, simplify and enhance channel order-management, configuration and reporting tools.

  • Communication
  • establish a simple, predictable and consistent plan to communicate with channel partners.

  • Programs
  • continue to enhance and expand channel partner relationships to maximize coverage, recognize partners aligned to Nortel strategic technologies, leverage stocking distribution and develop new and strategic partnerships.

  • Coverage
  • further implement a systematic process to dynamically identify geographic and competency gaps and bring partners on board as needed to attain an optimal coverage model.

  • Channel governance
  • further improve the processes for managing channel programs and direct/indirect customer engagements.

  • New product introduction
  • implement consistent processes to introduce new products into the channel to address key partner requirements, training and accreditation support.

    We are reinvigorating our channel strategy with the eye to doubling our SMB market share in the next 18-to-24 months, says David Wilkinson, North American director of enterprise marketing, channels and distribution at Nortel. Thats a reach goal, but the channel is key to making it happen.

    The Nortel renaissance begins with expanded partnerships with three VADs Ingram Micro, SYNNEX Corp. and Westcon Group Inc. that will focus on recruiting thousands of VARs to the program to sell voice, data and wireless products, including the Business Communication Manager (BCM) 50 VoIP solution. The VADs also will provide the channel with training, support and streamlined access to Nortel resources. Well create content, and the VADs will execute training, says Wilkinson. We want the VADs to live up to their name and add value by helping resellers with their day-to-day business challenges, not just provide fulfillment.

    The VARs however will have a direct relationship with Nortel within Partner Advantage, a three-tiered program with Elite, Premium and Advantage levels that are built on sales and service competencies across the Nortel portfolio. The VARs then can benefit from dedicated internal Nortel contacts and eight points of action within Nortels renewal initiative designed to strengthen channel relationships (see sidebar, Project Renaissance Principles).

    The focus on resellers is part of a business transformation within Nortel itself. The vendor realized it wasnt taking advantage of new sales in the SMB market, and at the beginning of the year announced it was shifting itself to align with that opportunity. But it requires velocity and scalability, and we needed to act very quickly, quicker than we could do with inside people, Wilkinson says. We are making a fourfold increase in the amount of investment on our side for channel operations, marketing and sales engineering, with the goal of recruiting, ramping, training and marketing our products to the SMB VARs.

    The type of VAR Nortel is looking for falls into several categories, including partners focused on vertical markets, IT/data-centric VARs, and traditional telecom resellers building off legacy PBX installs.

    The opportunity for the partners is significant, Wilkinson adds, especially with Nortels TDM-installed base of Meridian and Norstar telephone systems. The vendor will attack the upsell with BCM 50 bundles that include standard SMB configurations to make the training and implementation of the IP PBX easier.

    Links
    Ingram Micro www.ingrammicro.com
    Nortel Networks Ltd. www.nortelnetworks.com
    SYNNEX Corp. www.synnex.com
    Westcon Group Inc. www.westcon.com

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