3Com Tailors Wireless Partner Program To SMB Solution Providers

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3Com is making changes to its wireless partner program to lure solution providers focused on the SMB market, CRN has learned.

To that end, 3Com has reduced the training requirements and increased the discount level offered to partners that enroll in the program.

3Com trainers are on a 40-city tour conducting a new one-day wireless training class for partners. After completing the class, which focuses on the technology as well as how to sell and position 3Com's wireless products, solution providers take a certification test via the Web. Partners now also have the opportunity to test out of the class, said Dave Smith, vice president of marketing at 3Com, based here.

To enroll, certified partners must commit to $100,000 in annual wireless sales, Smith said. For that commitment, partners get an additional 5 percent discount on products and free demo equipment, he added.

Tim McNicoll, a business consultant with Little Chute, Wis.-based solution provider Heartland Business Systems, said the changes are well-timed. "We are seeing more and more small businesses that are interested in going wireless," he said.

The wireless partner program, launched about a year ago, has attracted 100 3Com partners in the past year, Smith said. He hopes the changes will attract about 400 more, he said.

The bulk of the 100 partners already enrolled in the program focus on larger deals, especially in the education market, according to Smith.

When 3Com launched the program, it had one access point, the AP 6000, which was aimed at the midsize business and education markets, Smith said. In the past year, 3Com has filled out its wireless line with the AP 2000, a new access point targeted at the SMB space, and the AP 8000, an access point with enhanced management and security features aimed at large enterprises.

"Last year we didn't really have an SMB product," Smith said. "The real sweet spot for wireless right now is in the small office. That's where we're seeing some real growth. If our partners offer that market a choice between 3Com and a retail brand, I think we'll win."

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