Avaya Seeks SMB Experts


Nearly 60 solution providers have already earned the new "SMB Expert" designation, given to partners that can demonstrate SMB-focused expertise across account executives and systems engineers in areas such as customer support, technical knowledge and marketing support, according to the Basking Ridge, N.J.-based company.

"This designates to the outside world that we have that expertise," said Vicki Parker, vice president of sales and business development at Cross Telecom, an Avaya Platinum partner in Bloomington, Minn., that has earned the new badge. As a top seller of IP Office, Avaya's SMB VoIP offering, Cross Telecom already had the necessary expertise in-house, she added.

In addition to garnering notoriety in the marketplace for earning SMB Expert status, Cross Telecom will also have access to additional joint marketing funds and a special designation within Avaya's online partner locator, Parker said. The program does not provide extra points to participating partners, she said.

SMB customers account for 20 percent to 25 percent of Cross Telecom's customer base, Parker said. "It's a small portion of our revenue, [but] small customers grow up to be large customers, and those customers want the sophistication an enterprise system will bring but sometimes can't play in that space," she said.

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Avaya is the latest vendor in the VoIP space to target SMB-focused solution providers. Nortel Networks last week expanded its partnerships with several distributors in order to beef up recruiting and training of SMB partners, a move that followed the launch of its first-ever SMB-focused data networking portfolio. Executives from Cisco Systems' Linksys division, D-Link and Netgear also have recently touted channel partners as key to their SMB strategies. Meanwhile, Cisco two years ago launched SMB Select, a partner designation for solution providers focusing on smaller accounts, followed by a variety of new SMB-focused channel programs, product launches and distribution partnerships.