Nortel: Ask The Expert

The forthcoming Expert Advantage program rewards partners that make training and certification commitments, build expertise around technology solutions and demonstrate predictable and sustainable sales growth, said Oliver Gnass, director of channel marketing at Nortel, Brampton, Ontario.

"I've been asking Nortel to do a program like this for quite some time," said Frank Porreca, president of Layer 227, a Toronto-based solution provider. Expert Advantage should help smaller, specialized partners maintain margin as they compete against larger, high-volume partners, he said.

Program members will have to submit detailed business plans and participate in co-marketing events with Nortel, said Christine Durham, vice president of market and channel outreach. "This is a very specialized program that is going to require a partner that really does want to have a very focused business model," Durham said.

Nortel has been piloting a program that created the Expert Advantage designation for 12 partners focused on its Alteon security products. Now Nortel plans to replace that designation with a broader, solutions-focused Security Expert Advantage program that includes its Alteon and Contivity security products.

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The vendor is also adding Expert Advantage programs for Campus LAN, which includes its Passport and BayStack networking products, and Wireless LAN, which includes its stand-alone, hybrid and adaptive wireless products.

Expert Advantage partners receive an automatic additional 2 percent discount on products purchased in their solution category as well as a 2 percent marketing fund, accrued quarterly.

They are also eligible to receive performance rebates totaling up to 9.5 percent on products in their solution category if they meet their annual growth goal. Growth goals for each category will differ but will likely all be around 25 percent, Gnass said.