Nortel Networks is ramping up a new program that aims to help VoIP partners mine its biggest resource: its legacy telephony customers.
Nortel's IPT 1-2-3 initiative was developed to address a problem the Brampton, Ontario-based company saw in VoIP sales, said Pat Patterson, director of North American IP telephony marketing. "When we looked at the large installed base that Nortel has in hand, we weren't gaining our fair share of the IP telephony market," he said.
Standing in Nortel's way was the complexity of its price quote process for migration from its traditional telephony systems to VoIP, according to Patterson. "There's a lot of value we can bring to our installed base migrating to VoIP because they don't have to migrate everything. But with flexibility comes complexity," he said.
In many cases, Nortel's channel partners were finding it easier to quote a "rip and replace" solution from Cisco Systems rather than work through the intricacies of quoting a Nortel migration that would mix old and new gear, Patterson noted.
Bart Graf, co-founder and director of Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based Nortel partner, said the new program provides incentives that are encouraging legacy customers to migrate to VoIP.
"It's been successful so far. I wish they had done it sooner," Graf said. Nortel's legacy customer base is one of its strongest assets, he added.
Through the new initiative, Nortel has created upgrade packages to simplify migration and developed a new quote tool for channel partners that slashes the time it takes for partners to price VoIP migrations, Patterson said.
"It used to take three to nine days for a customer to get a solid quote. Now that's down to less than one day and, in some cases, less than one hour," he said.
In addition, the program includes financial incentives and financing options for customers.
Nortel formally launched IPT 1-2-3 in June and the program has hit full steam this month, with training under way nationwide to instruct partners on how to target the vendor's installed base of Meridian telephony systems. More than 1,000 partner sales reps have gone through training sessions to learn how to use the new tool, packages and promotions. Online partner training just went live last week, Patterson said.
Future versions of the program will have an online version of the quote tool and will target Nortel's Norstar key system base, he said.
The IPT 1-2-3 program is one of several initiatives that Nortel has under way as part of President and CEO Mike Zafirovski's BIG (Business transformation, Integrity and Growth) strategy. Zafirovski joined last November and has been vocal about his plans to change the trajectory of the networking vendor's business, which has been hampered by accounting scandals and executive turnover.