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Whatever frustration exists over Avaya's frequent executive turnover, the company's choice in a U.S. channel chief is being applauded. Karl Soderlund, who became Avaya's new vice president, U.S. channel sales in October, will now be the go-to for U.S.-based Avaya partners.
"I think Karl Soderlund is going to be a great addition," said SPS' Maynard. "We knew him when was at Extreme. He can do well as the channel advocate inside Avaya to come out, see us, talk to us and learn about our focus."
Soderlund, who was most recently senior vice president, worldwide sales and business development at Certeon but is best known to partners for his years at HP, Fortinet and Extreme Networks, said knows partners have questions.
"We want to expand our current portfolio with that partner base, especially on the data networking side and into the video segments," Soderlund told CRN. "End users are starting to demand it it, and we're really going to incent our partner base to promote this new technology."
There are about 1,800 Avaya partners in the U.S., Soderlund said, and Avaya's win rate in competitive situations is increasing every quarter. There is a push on, he said, to recruit new partners to the Avaya fold, particularly with major competitors like Cisco still reeling from restructuring and other distractions. Expect updates to the Avaya Connect program at the partner conference and early in the new year, Soderlund said.
"We want to recruit and enable more partners. There's enterprise opportunity for us, and SME opportunity for us," he said. "Other competitors are making changes because their hands are being forced to make changes. We are progressively making changes and having a partner program that works. We will be making commitments to partners who are going to make commitments to us."
Soderlund said he plans to use his data networking experience to warm more telephony and UC-focused Avaya partners to the idea of selling Avaya data networking. He'll also be focused on partner profitability -- a big piece of his time at Certeon, where he spearheaded aggressive channel incentives like guaranteeing 20 percent margins for qualified solution providers.
"I told them my Certeon story," Soderlund said of his discussions with Avaya. "But it's not just greater margins; it's bringing a best-in-class solution to the table with best-in-class promotions. Go to any city from a geographic standpoint in the U.S. and you have 50 to 70 Cisco partners fighting over the same deal, where you could have three or five Avaya partners."