Avaya To Put More Business Into The Hands Of Partners

Todd Meister, Avaya's vice president of global channel strategy and distribution, last week shared details of the still-developing strategy with solution providers at the Masters of Convergence Forum, an invitation-only Avaya channel training event in Chicago. The new strategy is critical to the company's success as it battles Cisco Systems for market share in the converged communications space, Meister said.

"We haven't had as efficient a distribution vehicle in how we got to market as we needed," Meister said. "Best-in-class products alone will not win the space."

Avaya plans to segment customers into three tiers. The top two segments, Premier Advantage and Premier, will comprise about 850 global and commercial enterprise accounts. The majority of these accounts will be serviced by Avaya's direct-sales reps.

All other Avaya accounts will go to the third Territory tier. The company wants 90 percent of sales in this category to go through indirect channels, Meister said.

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"We're absolutely going to do more business through our indirect channels," Meister said. However, it will take time for partners and direct-sales reps to adjust to the model, he added.

Avaya hopes its new strategy, which does not yet have a launch date, will reduce channel conflict with its direct-sales force and help partners grow their Avaya business, Meister said.

"Avaya has come to the realization that in many cases, channel partners can actually serve some of these customers better than they can," said Jeff Hiebert, CEO of ROI Networks, a solution provider in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Mike Taylor, vice president of emerging technology at Strategic Products and Services, a Cedar Knolls, N.J., solution provider, said Avaya's new strategy should help cut down channel conflict, which he said varies by region and sales rep.

Meister, who took over Avaya's enterprise channel program about a year ago, also reduced the number of partners authorized to sell its enterprise communications products to about 300 from 1,050 to help reduce conflict and focus on its most productive partners.

JOHN ROBERTS contributed to this story.