Partners: New AT&T Certification Program Driving Recurring Revenue Gains

Solution providers say AT&T's new Certification Achievement Program is driving recurring revenue sales gains.

"The program has equipped our sales folks with the knowledge and skill sets to go out and have a more comprehensive conversation with CIOs and close a bigger book of business in terms of recurring revenue streams," said Patrick Lee, business development executive at Alliant Technologies, a Boston-based AT&T Partner Exchange member.

Lee is one of 11 solution providers in the first graduating class of Certification Achievement Program, or CAP, which was introduced in March. The program is first certification program for indirect channels offered to members of the AT&T Partner Exchange program.

Partners can pursue CAP certifications in three different technology tracks, including network, cloud/hosting and mobility. The program has a prerequisite level -- Core -- and two certification tiers, Professional and Master.

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’AT&T did a great job with the on-site Master certification,’ Lee said. ’It was very similar to an in-person training that Cisco would hold, which are ranked pretty high."

The Core and Professional certification levels of the program are self-paced, online courses. The Master level, known as CAPstone, is an on-site, hands-on experience in which solution providers collaborate with their peers and AT&T professionals. At CAPstone, partners completed in-person case studies, role rehearsal scenarios, and developed their consulting and multiproduct selling skills, said Sara Straley, assistant vice president of marketing and pricing for AT&T Partner Exchange. Last month's first CAPstone was held at the AT&T Foundry in Plano, Texas.

Partners have to demonstrate understanding and proficiency in various AT&T offerings during the role rehearsals, and are given a pass or fail grade that goes toward their Master certification. ’The partners are really responding to the program's way of helping them blend their technical expertise and their solutions with AT&T’s solutions for an integrated offering," she said. "[Partners] like practicing their skills on the spot, learning from their peers, and share best practices."

Michelle Henley, senior sales director of AT&T partner Creative Technology Partners, Norcross, Ga., graduated from CAP's Master track along with two other colleagues. ’I’ve been around AT&T solutions for quite a while but this provided some really good benefits. You get the online classes, but then you get to pull it all together in a real-world scenario with other solution providers,’ she said.

Henley said that CAP gave her the confidence to talk about AT&T technology more in-depth based on customer needs. ’I love the fact that they focused on helping us pull out the needs of the business customer and relate the solutions to it vs. just promoting speeds and feeds,’ she said.

The online classes for the Core and Professional tracks leading up to the Master track are media-based, interactive, and easy to follow, according to Lee. Each Web-based course helps provide partners with both sales and technical expertise, he said. ’These courses prepare you to go out and discuss the technology and solutions aspects with a potential customer at a pretty detailed level,’ Lee said.

In addition to helping partners position the products for solution selling that will help solve customer problems, CAP helped partners understand Dallas-based AT&T’s broad product portfolio, he said.

Many solution providers are working through the Core and Professional levels, on their way toward the Master track, according to AT&T’s Straley. ’Partners really feel like this is going to help them up their game,’ she said.