Avaya Channel Bosses Highlight Customer Satisfaction, New Pricing Models, MDF Changes

In a presentation to Avaya partners at the company's U.S. partner conference in Las Vegas, Jeremy Butt, vice president, worldwide channels and Tom Mitchell, senior vice president and president, Avaya Go To Market, said the company will launch new services and support programs as it migrates Avaya's global channel program to one based on competency and customer satisfaction, not volume.

The goals, Butt and Mitchell emphasized, are to enable fatter partner margins and encourage partners to sell the full Avaya technology portfolio, which has seen 60 new products launched since the beginning of its fiscal 2010.

Many of those programs have arrived already, including Support Advantage, Avaya's maintenance services offering launched this past summer. Among the newer initiatives, however, will be the release of the Avaya Pricing Model (APM), which will simplify the global pricing structure to help partners quote and price more effectively and make their product and services quoting faster by as much as 30 percent.

APM was piloted in Australia this past summer, and Mitchell and Butt told CRN Tuesday that U.S. partners will see APM in action in about 9 to 12 months. Avaya will also continue to tweak OneSource, an online resource that consolidates a lot of its procurement tools to make partner product and service delivery more streamlined.

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It's all part of a push to get Avaya partners to sell more of the Avaya "stack" -- portfolio sales of unified communications, contact center and data networking versus point products and basic product-plus-maintenance resale.

Doing that will be key to increasing Avaya's consideration rate against Cisco and other big competitors, Mitchell said. Driving business into new customers and selling more into existing customers are crucial.

"For every three viable opportunities, we're probably only really effective in one," Mitchell said.

It'll supplement those efforts with promotions and incentives. For example, according to Mitchell, Avaya Co-Delivery services partners are eligible for an extra 15 percent off rebate on orders booked through the end of this calendar year.

Going forward, Avaya partners will be evaluated using metrics like revenue, margin and customer satisfaction, and also offered a scorecard, Mitchell explained, that shows how partners perform in those metrics versus the average performance of U.S. partners at their same Avaya partnering tier.

"It's the ability for us to have a collective discussion on our business based on data, not the anecdotes," Mitchell said.

"If you're a Gold partner, you'll be able to see the average of all the Gold partners, so you can see if you're doing better, worse or the same," Butt added, saying the scorecard will help partners have more "accurate, disciplined" conversations with their sales teams.

As it enables its partners, there's also a push to remake Avaya's channel as a whole, Mitchell and Butt said. Avaya cut 1,200 global partners in the past year, and is expecting to cut an additional 963 this year, Butt said. Avaya this year instituted sales thresholds -- $50,000 for enterprise partners, $5,000 for SME -- to weed out underperforming Avaya partners.

Structurally, Avaya will also be making additions to Avaya Connect, its two-year old revamped global partner program. Partnership tiers -- Authorized, Silver, Gold and Patinum -- will remain the same, but Avaya will be adding an ISV track to the partner program and also specializations around data networking and video.

Avaya will also change its market development funds (MDF) program to one of value-based, discretionary MDF -- part of what Butt said is a way to spend market dollars more effectively.

"What it means is that some partners will get zero, and some partners will get more than they previously had," Butt explained.

More tweaks are in the works, including ways to make multinational channel deals easier, Butt said. Avaya is also instituting partner versioning in Avaya's partner relationship management (PRM) platform that allows partners to go online and more easily customize what updates and resources Avaya sends them.

Last, said Butt, Avaya will host a virtual event in mid-December to discuss partner marketing, and also make the material available on-demand following the conference.

Butt said the feedback from partners, as Avaya shifts away from volume and toward value, has been consistently better.

"It feels like we're in a pretty good place," he said.