Three months after introducing its Exclusive BusinessPartner (EBP) program, Mitel has more than 100 indirect sales partners as part of the tier, which offers resellers strategic advantages in selling and servicing Mitel’s portfolio of unified communications solutions in ex-change for exclusivity.
Mitel, which merged with Inter-Tel last year, has more than 800 U.S. indirect sales partners. The EBP program was introduced three months ago following a 26-city road show in October to meet with the channel partners of both companies.
“Many of our largest [business partners] have chosen to join the new Mitel Exclusive BusinessPartner program and sell our solutions to 100 percent of their new customers,” says Carter Chapman, director of chan-nel sales at Mitel. “In return, they receive guidance that we believe is unmatched in this industry.”
Chapman reports that Mitel’s 800 partners and 60 offices give the company significant U.S. market coverage. In terms of EBPs, Mitel’s ideal number would be in the range of 125 to150, and it has just signed its 118th EBP. Chapman says this cap would ensure that these partners realize the full benefits of an exclusive relationship with Mitel.
“With the investment required to succeed in the unified communications marketplace, it is clear that smaller players will be unable to compete in the future, putting customers and channel partners at risk,” says Chapman. “Our new, combined channel program leverages our enhanced market position and provides what we believe is one of the most attractive channel programs available today. The rapid scale created by the combination of Mitel and Inter-Tel makes us an even clearer choice for new business customers, and benefits both existing clients and the hundreds of VARs who have built their businesses around our solutions.”
Mitel’s EBP program builds on the best practices of Inter-Tel’s suc-cessful “OneInter-Tel” channel program and Mitel’s “high touch” sales and services model to deliver additional value that helps drive the success of elite channel resellers. “Mitels systems, along with an expanded suite of applications, advanced desktop appliances and comprehensive services, can help them address any opportunity — today and well into the future,” says Chapman.
The EBP program provides resellers with access to unified communications solutions, including the Mitel 3300 IP Communications Platform (ICP), a proven enterprise platform, combined with the SMB-focused Inter-Tel 5000, along with the Inter-Tel 3000 for small businesses and residences. Meeting the needs of customer environments ranging from 20 employees to large, multisite businesses with thousands of employees, EBPs avoid the overhead of working with multiple manufacturers to address specific customer requirements, says Mitel.
According to Mark McKersie, president of First-Tel, a Mitel EBP located in Michigan, the program has benefited his company in several ways. “In one aspect, the ability to work with one manufacturer provides a number of efficiencies,” he says. “In the past, when First-Tel worked with multiple vendors, we were expected to participate in multiple training sessions, carry multiple inventories and adjust our operations to meet the specific demands of each vendor. As you can expect, adhering to the demands of different manufacturers became a very complicated and expensive proposition.”
Mitel Exclusive BusinessPartners have access to numerous sales support and training opportunities to improve their business processes and ensure they have the tools to meet their business goals, such as increasing revenue, maximizing margins and improving profitability.
“With over 60 Mitel branch sales offices located throughout the United States, we are in the unique position of facing most, if not all, of the same challenges that our business partners experience on a day-to-day basis,” says Chapman. “When the members of our Executive Leadership Committee work one-on-one with each of our Exclusive BusinessPartners, they focus on the same four strategic areas that we focus on ourselves: sales performance, profit performance, cost containment and balance-sheet management. Through these on-site ‘operational reviews,’ we ob-serve the EBP’s normal processes and then jointly develop a targeted business plan to strengthen these key areas of their business. Our leaders stay involved throughout the execution of the plan and then follow up with the appropriate measurements,” he explains.
Chapman says EBPs also have access to a comprehensive service and sup-port program called TotalSolution. More than 70 percent of Mitel new system sales through its branch offices are sold with this program, which includes full service and warranty, guaranteed rates for expan-sion, upgrade and recast flexibility, system software upgrades, risk-of-loss coverage, disaster-recovery provisions, system training, dis-counted system relocation, discounted MACs and guaranteed renewal op-tions. Chapman says the company additionally offers pricing discounts on product and technical training, free telemarketing conducted by Mitel’s Business Development Group, expanded co-op marketing funds, hu-man resources assistance and free applications for EBPs’ demo rooms.
Steve Klenner, owner of BSB Communications, a Mitel reseller with sev-eral locations in the Midwest, is a member of the EBP program. “The EBP relationship has been instrumental in how we manage our business,” says Klenner. “We appreciate the ability to consult with Mitel executives on any number of issues, ranging from sales to human resources. It is an invaluable program that enables us to compete more effectively and im-prove our bottom line. In our business, this speaks volumes.”
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