Nortel Introduces New Programs, Products


With its new programs and product offerings, Nortel is trying to simplify the way it does business with partners, said Net Payne, vice president of North American enterprise marketing at Nortel.

"Our goal is to make it as simple as possible for our resellers to work with Nortel," Payne said.

To that end, Nortel is rolling out a new fast-track accreditation program for new and existing SMB channel partners that want to sell the vendor's Business Communication Manager (BCM) 50 IP communications system.

The program comes in response to partner requests to lower the barrier of entry to Nortel's VoIP product line, Payne said. It cuts the costs by more than 50 percent vs. the full training and certification offering, he said, noting that, since some content has been left out in order to simplify the process, partners that achieve the fast-track certification will be restricted from working with some high-end applications, such as contact center offerings.

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Nortel also launched several new SMB product bundles for partners to sell, including IP telephony packages that combine VoIP and data products for eight or 16 users, digital voice packages in configurations for four, eight and 16 users, and one data bundle that includes Nortel's recently launched line of SMB switches, routers and wireless access points.

The bundles carry end-user prices ranging from $3,000 to $15,000.

In addition to its new SMB data portfolio, unveiled in June, Nortel in recent months has inked expanded partnerships with several distributors to target the SMB market and launched IPT 1-2-3, an initiative that encourages channel partners to mine the Brampton, Ontario, vendor's biggest resource: its legacy telephony customers.

The new SMB product bundles come as an expansion to that program, one of several initiatives under way as part of Nortel President and CEO Mike Zafirovski's "BIG" strategy, which stands for Business transformation, Integrity and Growth." Zafirovski joined the company last November and has been vocal about his plans to change the trajectory of the networking vendor's business, which has been hampered by accounting scandals and executive turnover.

IPT 1-2-3 was developed to address a problem Nortel was seeing with its VoIP sales, said Pat Patterson, director of North American IP telephony marketing at Nortel. "When we looked at the large installed base Nortel has in hand, we weren't gaining our fair share of the IP telephony market," he said.

Standing in Nortel's way was the complexity of its price quote process for migration from its traditional telephony systems to VoIP, Patterson said.

"There's a lot of value we can bring to our installed base migrating to VoIP because they don't have to migrate everything, but with flexibility comes complexity," Patterson said.

In many cases, Nortel's channel partners were finding it easier to quote a "rip and replace" solution from Cisco Systems rather than work through the intricacies of quoting a Nortel migration that would mix old and new gear, he said.

Bart Graf, co-founder and director of Integration Partners, a Lexington, Mass.-based Nortel partner, said the new program provides incentives that are encouraging legacy customers to migrate to VoIP.

"It's been successful so far," Graf said. "I wish they had done it sooner."

Graf said Nortel's legacy customer base is one of its strongest assets.

Through the new initiative, Nortel has created upgrade packages to simplify the migration process, as well as a new quote tool for channel partners that dramatically reduce the time it takes for partners to price out VoIP migrations, Patterson said. "It used to take three to nine days for a customer to get a solid quote. Now that's down to less than one day and, in some cases, less than one hour," he said.

In addition, the program includes financial incentives and financing options for customers.

Nortel formally launched IPT 1-2-3 in June, and as of August, more than 1,000 partner sales reps have gone through training sessions around the country, learning how to use the new tool, packages and promotions to target the vendor's installed base of Meridian telephony systems.