Adtran Boosts Perks For Mid-Tier SMB Partners

On Wednesday, the Huntsville, Ala.-based networking and communications vendor announced key updates to its ADvantage Partner Program. According to Ted Cole, vice president of channel sales for Adtran, the changes will give mid-tier ADvantage partners access to new product lines, increased revenue incentives and certification training programs for Adtran's NetVanta family of routers, switches and IP telephony solutions.

The enhancements, Cole said, stem from sweeping changes in Adtran's program last year in which the vendor eliminated its direct sales model, which still fulfilled orders through partners. Currently, Adtran boasts nearly 2,000 partners in its three tiers: ADvantage Plus, ADvantage and Registered.

"We want to be able to increase our partners' ability to win in their respective markets," Cole said.

Mid-level partners can now, for the first time, earn technical specializations for IP telephony and internetworking products, specializations that were once reserved for just the top tier. Cole said those specializations will let partners expand their product offerings and access a higher discount structure.

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Obtaining the IP telephony specialization will give partners the ability to sell Adtran's NetVanta 7000 series of telephone products to move their business into the burgeoning telephony market. Those certifications will compliment other benefits such as certification training, priority access to pre- and post-sales support, participation in beta programs, being featured in the partner locator, the ability to receive discounted demo units and access to sales leads.

Additionally mid-tier partners can now receive advance product information and can be selected to serve on Adtran's Partner Council, incentives that were previously only open to top-level partners.

"We have a number of partners on the SMB side that can't meet the requirements for ADvantage Plus," Cole said, adding that the ADvantage plus carriers a revenue requirement to Adtran for $100,000, while the ADvantage level is a quarter of that. "This enhances their ability to get out and get engaged in deals."

Cole said with the program enhancements, mid-level partners can boost their discounts by 20 percent.

"We want our partners to be successful," he said. "We don't want them to be in a position that's beyond their success."

Cole said Adtran has spent the past year strengthening its programs and relationships for partners that serve the SMB and mid-size enterprise. He said enabling mid-tier partners to take advantage of additional training and certification will help them grow their business.

Other ADvantage Partner Program enhancements include lowering the threshold for deal registration, making it easier for partners to take advantage of the new opportunities. Cole added that online technical and business skills training options are also being expanded for ADvantage and ADvantage Plus partners, who can now receive a 75 percent discount on demo gear.

For partners, the changes are met with open arms.

"I can actually make money selling their Ethernet products, which has come to be seen as a commodity," said Joel Kappes, co-founder of Milestone Networks Inc., and Englewood, Colo.-based solution provider.

Kappes said Milestone was an ADvantage Plus partner, but moved down to the mid-tier level not too long ago. He said being able to have some of the same benefits despite the mid-tier status has been a welcome change.

"I'm still going to have some benefits without the huge revenue commitment," he said, later adding that "by doing the certification we're getting the benefits of higher discounts and actually making some money."

For Milestone and VARs like it, Kappes said the partner program enhancements can open new doors. He said new VARs who might not reach top-tier revenue requirements and existing VARs looking to extend into new areas will see the most benefit.

"This gives them the ability to start battling in the IP telephony market," he said. "They never really had the resources to do so before, now they do. It's great for upstarts and existing VARs that want to branch out. This gives them a good, viable way to do it."