Avaya To Add Distribution VP, New Channel Programs

Bob McGrade is slated to join Avaya as vice president of distribution on June 1, Ken Archer, vice president of Avaya's North America channels, told CRN at the Convergence Connection 2007 conference in Hilton Head, S.C. McGrade comes to the company from Hewlett-Packard, where he was director of distribution sales for HP's Americas Solution Partners Organization.

"We're excited about Bob McGrade coming on board," Archer said. "We have a need to rationalize distribution within Avaya. We have seven distributors. Some are value distributors. Most are volume distributors. So as we start to see the changing of products, services and software, it requires a [new] distribution strategy to be crafted."

On the enterprise side, Avaya works with ScanSource's Catalyst Telecom division, Westcon's Voda One division and Avnet. Avaya had been with GE Access before the company was acquired by Avnet earlier this year.

"As we morph and look at software as a key part of our go-to-market strategy, selling it and architecting the right channel strategy to have our partners selling applications and be solutions focused requires a channel strategy change. You obviously look at software distribution differently from hardware distribution," Archer said.

Sponsored post

Avaya also is creating two new channel programs, due to launch later this month, to gain market share from Cisco Systems in the convergence space, according to Archer.

"I'm not looking to build a feature-for-feature channel program against Cisco. I have to contend with their feet on the street," he said. "I'm more in the space of quality vs. quantity. With that, we are increasing capacity with a couple of models that allow me to get the capacity and the consideration rate that I am contending with vs. Cisco, but protects the margin of the partner."

The first program is what Archer called a "channel influencer program" to bring on new VARs that will give the vendor extra reach without creating channel conflict.

"There are a lot of partners with Extreme and Juniper and the Dev Connect portfolios that have an ability to create demand and influence Avaya [customer buying] decisions because of their value proposition," Archer said. "It's a self-funding model because it's new business. It's incremental business that we wouldn't have normally reached."

Avaya also is creating a "master dealer" program that focuses on small and midsize businesses.

"In the SMB world, there are a lot of little guys out there that go to church and their kids go to the same schools. The neighbors all trust them. They don't have the capability of investing in certification -- investing in being a full-fledged authorized partner but have ability to influence [decision making]," Archer said. "If you marry them with some master dealer that has the sales infrastructure, technical infrastructure, pre- and post-sales support, it works for both."

Avaya hopes to have 50 SMB partners working with each master dealer, he added.

"It's a new part of our channel strategy because it gets us that capacity. It increases our consideration rate. It gets us in front of more customers," he said.