Avaya Revamps Growth Incentives, Intros New Partner Specializations For 2014

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Avaya this week has taken the "final steps" in transitioning its partner program from a volume-based model to one based on value, announcing that partner levels will no longer be determined by revenue or volume of sales, but by partners' customer satisfaction scores and their ability to earn a new set of Avaya master specializations.

Avaya announced the program changes at its Executive Partner Forum, taking place this week in Cancun, Mexico. The company also unveiled a number of other changes to its Avaya Connect Partner program, including a new version of its Grow Right financial incentives program and new cloud-specific partner designations.

According to Barat Dickman, senior director, go-to-market strategy and channel programs at Avaya, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has been moving toward a partner program and rewards structure that is more value-based than volume-based for the past three years.


[Related: Avaya Eyes Midmarket Gains With Bulked-Up IP Office]

Dickman said examples of this transition include Avaya's recently launched customer incentive program, which rewards partners on deals with new Avaya customers, along with Avaya's increased emphasis on partners' customer satisfaction scores.

But the final piece of the transition, he said, will be changing the way in which partners earn their Platinum, Gold and Silver medal status. Rather than rank partners on the Avaya revenue they generate as the company has in the past, partners instead will be ranked based on their number of Avaya master specializations, or, as Dickman put it, "badges" showing their knowledge in a certain technology or market segment.

"The final step is to migrate to a medal stratus requirements model that is based on skills and value and not just revenue dollars," Dickman told CRN. "[Partners'] medal status going forward is going to become a function of them earning things we are calling master specializations. Basically, the number of master specializations, plus their customer satisfaction scores, will dictate their medal status going forward."

The first four Avaya master specializations will be centered on Avaya's networking, unified communications, contact center and midmarket products.

Partners' ability to earn these master specializations will be based on the number of Avaya partner credentials they hold. It will also be based on partners meeting what Avaya called "services performance criteria" and proving that they have a certain level of experience in selling, marketing and demonstrating Avaya products.

Dickman said Avaya will create "some level of assessment" to gauge partners' competencies in these areas.

He also said that these master specializations will start to roll out in 2014, but the actual date when the new requirement model will change hasn't been confirmed.

"We aren't going to do this too quickly, because we don't want to jolt partners. We want them to have ample time for them to earn these specializations so that they can get the medal status they want," Dickman said. "I don't think we will actually make a hard cut in 2014 on the new model."

Scott Landis, president and CEO of VOX Network Solutions, a San Francisco-based solution provider and Platinum Avaya partner, said Avaya's new value-based partner rewards structure is one of several announcements made at the Avaya Executive Partner Forum this week that gives him confidence in Avaya's new channel executive team.

Avaya in July tapped Pierre-Paul Allard, its former senior vice president of global strategy and development, to succeed Senior Vice President of Global Sales Tom Mitchell, who announced plans to leave the company. In August, Avaya also appointed Richard Steranka, its former vice president of strategic planning, as the new head of its Worldwide Partner Organization.

"I'm very impressed with the leadership team. It's not business as usual around here. They are shaking things up, and there is major change going on, and, from my perspective, it's all positive," said Landis, who met with both Steranka and Allard this week at the event. "They very clearly are laying out what the direction is and how they are going to execute on it."

Landis told CRN his Avaya business was up 106 percent year-over-year, with that growth propelled largely by sales of Avaya's contact center solutions.

NEXT: Avaya's New Growth, Cloud Programs

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