Avaya direct sales hits a road block

Cancan – Channel/vendor conflict is a disease, according to Avaya Americas International president John DiLullo.

And, at the Avaya Americas Partner Conference he basically told 400 solution providers (30 from Canada) that he will in essence be the cure to that disease.

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DiLullo announced a new company policy whereby all direct deals to the mid-market and below must be approved by him and him only. “And, my approval will not be forthcoming, he said to the delight of the attendees.

“I realize that we cannot have channel conflict. That is a disease. It adds cost and uncertainty. It also diminishes (a solution providers) interest in making the necessary investments in Avaya,” he said.

The DiLullo policy is strictly for commercial sales. He added that some large enterprise customers want a direct relationship. “(This policy is not meant for this type of crowd.”DiLullo also wanted to be clear that this policy was not brought about because there was a lot of channel/vendor conflict at Avaya.

The policy was created because of solution provider feedback. The channel told DiLullo that they were concerned the Avaya sales team had the ability to sell direct. “They say this as an open door. It was an irritation to them and I heard it over, and over again so I did something about it. It will not change much in the flow of business we have now, but I’m glad that it was well received by the partners,” he said.

The DiLullo policy will not alter Avaya sales compensation plans. You will not see, for example, Avaya sales teams being incented to aid channel partners during the sales cycle.

“Compensation will remain neutral. There was an article in the Harvard Business Review that said do not make the mistake of telling your customer how to buy from you. They should buy how they want to buy,” he said.

DiLullo told CDN that disparate compensation plans for sales teams exacerbates that problem and so Avaya does not have them.Avaya will also step up its investment in creating demand in the marketplace for the channel partners. The company will increase its investment by 30 per cent over last year’s budget and have tasked Avaya territory account managers to help solution providers drive growth specifically in the mid-market.Special pricing will also be sped up, said DiLullo. Channel programs such as the Triple 7 will eliminate solution providers having to wait a month for price approvals.

Steve Leidholdt, the president of solution provider STL Communications said Avaya has made some major changes to its channel business. “The old plan made people nervous, but if you show increases in revenue with Avaya products they will be very good to you. But what was very telling to me is that, for the most part, the same executives are in key channel roles and that was not the case in previous years at Avaya,” Leidholdt said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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