Nortel Partners Give High Marks To New Program

Giving high marks to the revamped Partner Advantage channel program Nortel launched in February, solution providers said the company is now rewarding partners that make the biggest investment and provide the highest value to customers.

"Nortel is certainly recognizing partners that have the best infrastructure, the best training. In the past, certifications weren't as important," said Stephen Murnane, senior vice president of Scottel Voice and Data, a solution provider in Culver City, Calif.

With its revamped program, Nortel rolled out designations that require partners to achieve certain sales volumes, maintain specified numbers of Nortel-certified staff and provide varying levels of service capabilities.

While it's too early to tell how the program is impacting the bottom line, customers are starting to recognize the value behind the new designations, said Rod Lewis, managing partner at solution provider Norstan Communications, Minneapolis. "The program has rigid standards, so it's not really us as a selling entity saying we're better than the next guy. There's some meat behind it," Lewis said.

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At the conference, sponsored by the International Nortel Networks Users Association, Nortel offered seminars to educate customers on the revamped program so they would understand the capabilities provided by authorized partners.

Nortel also sought to dispel customer uncertainty in the wake of its current accounting problems and the resulting executive changes, including the replacement of its top executive.

"You're going to see us come out of this period stronger, more focused and much more customer-focused," said Malcolm Collins, president of enterprise networks at Nortel, Brampton, Ontario.

Last fall, the company launched an internal investigation that uncovered problems in previously reported results. It plans to restate results dating back to 2001.