Nortel Call Center Leads The Way


The aim of this new inside sales team is to reach out to potential buyers, uncover sales opportunities within midmarket and high-end SMB customers and then turn those deals over to solution providers to close and fulfill, said Eric Schoch, vice president of North American enterprise marketing, channels and distribution at Nortel, Brampton, Ontario.

The roughly 18,000-square-foot facility in Richardson, Texas, is staffed with a bevy of new hires, including 41 inside sales representatives, four regional sales managers, an inside sales director and six sales engineers, with the capacity to make 20,000 to 30,000 calls per month. It represents a Nortel investment of between $5 million and $10 million, Schoch said.

Since placing their first call on Aug. 21, sales reps within the center have funneled $10 million in sales leads to Nortel partners, he said.

Nortel channel partners praised the effort and said they are already seeing signs of success with new deals uncovered by call center sales reps.

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"We've gotten five or six leads from the group in three weeks. Most important is that they are people that are actually going to buy," said Kevin Clift, president of QoS Telesys, a solution provider in Buena Park, Calif. "They really don't send us anything that isn't well-qualified."

About 90 percent of QoS Telesys' voice business is based on Nortel, Clift said. "One of the reasons is because they support us so well," he said. The company also represents Avaya.

James Mosvick, sales executive at Affiliated Communications, a Plano, Texas-based solution provider, said potential customers have had a positive reaction to the Nortel contact center.

"New prospects like the three-way conference call introduction of us as a Nortel partner and [the] handoff to a scheduled appointment," Mosvick said via e-mail. The Nortel team is targeting accounts with roughly 100 to 1,000 employees, culling potential deals from a list of more than 6,000 dormant Nortel customers. In addition, channel partners can bring in their own customer lists, jointly develop a call campaign and use the inside sales team to call on those customers at no charge to the solution provider, Schoch said.

Schoch said partners can turn over customer contacts to the call center with full confidence that the vendor will not take the engagements direct. "We don't have the scale, assets or the appetite to take business direct, especially in the SMB space," he said.

The call center currently has a goal of making 7,500 calls per week, he said. It garnered its first purchase order of more than $10,000 within the first three weeks and has helped partners close several deals north of $100,000, he said. It is available to all of Nortel's 780 contracted North American channel partners, including the 153 solution providers in its Partner Advantage program.

"One of the first questions we ask is whether the prospect is currently working with a partner," Schoch said. "Once the customer indicates that they've got interest and budget presence, if there's not an existing dealer, we look at who is the partner that's worked with them in the past." In cases where there are no pre-existing partnerships in place, Nortel helps identify potential solution providers based on geography and skill set and helps the customer choose. Then, Nortel helps the partner build a proposal to hopefully close the deal.

Sales reps within the contact center are calling on customers in the United States and Canada, searching for deals across a variety of Nortel technologies, including IP telephony, data, applications, messaging and low-end contact center offerings.

Partners that close deals uncovered by contact center reps make their typical margin, he said. "You could argue that they're making more money because they are spending considerably less time in the sales engagement," Schoch said.