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Avaya channel priorities shift towards delivering customer outcomes

Channel chief Richard Steranka

CANCUN, MEX. – Avaya channel chief Richard Steranka called on partners to focus on finding, defining and delivering customer outcomes at the 2015 Avaya Executive Partner Forum. And, for 2015 Steranka introduced several channel program changes that would see the networking and collaboration vendor try to align with the channel on its new services strategy that can capitalize on the cloud and accelerate commerce.

The biggest change in this new direction will be on channel rebates. The Grow Right program will no longer shut down to adjust for market conditions. It will now continuously be open and will see medal level distinction for channel partners who are able to align with Avaya on strategic products and platforms. Platinum level solution providers will see a 10 per cent increase on rebates from the original 20 per cent. Steranka added that Gold partners will remain at 20 per cent level, while Silver partners drop to 10 per cent from the original 20 per cent.

But Steranka did not call this a form of punishment for the channel, but instead a new form of incentive. Silver solution providers can reclaim 20 per cent rebates just be getting another certification. Steranka added that if they get two more certifications they can move up to 30 per cent.

“We want to financial reward you and I do not want to hand you a small cheque because that’s meaningless,” he said.

Steranka also moved up the cap incentive from $50,000 to $200,000. He says that solution providers are frustrated by the $50,000 cap number and it did not incent them to sell more in the quarter and instead would wait for the next quarter when the cap would recalibrate again.

Reza Kazerouni, president of Network, a New York city based voice and data communications solution provider described the new incentive cap as “awesome.”

Kazerouni added that the incentives will help the channel re-invest back that money into their business to showcase to customers a quicker go-to market sales cycle.

“This pushes us to go out and sell the entire stack,” he said.

The $200,000 cap can also move up to $250,000, according to Steranka.

The underlining strategy behind these new moves by Steranka is to position Avaya products to the new segment selling motions identified by the vendor along with reward channel partners who can deliver new customer wins.

It will also address the mid-market opportunity through coverage in capacity, capability and activity. Avaya pegs the mid-market opportunity at $53 billion market spend for this year. Avaya senior vice-president of worldwide sales Pierre Paul Allard said the mid-market is severely underserved and this market is now willing to invest in IT where they did not in the past. The Canadian-born executive added that there are currently 34 million companies worldwide who are considered mid-market (4,000 users to 100 users).

“We want to drive outcomes through channel incentives that align with the services strategy, cloud, APS and ACS,” Steranka said.

Avaya will also have the same approach for market development funds (MDF). Steranka shifted these dollars and said some channel partners may see less dollars available to them. He added that this decision is not about budget cuts more of a material shift to align where Avaya sees growth.

The growth areas where partners may see more MDF dollars are in head count increases, demand generation, and funding of seminars that is strategically align to new product areas that produce the desired customer outcomes.