Tely Labs Shakes Up Partner Program, Continues SMB Videoconferencing Push

Tely Labs Tuesday unveiled a redesigned partner program aimed at simplifying the certification process and attracting a new set of solution providers to attack the SMB videoconferencing market.

The new telyPartner program is being driven by Tely Labs' new Vice President of Sales for U.S. and Canada Rob Claus, who joined the video startup in January. Claus joined the company from Huawei, where he had served as Huawei's vice president of U.S. channel sales and marketing since September 2011.

The biggest change to the new telyPartner program rolled out this week is the reduction in partner tiers from five to three. Under the new program, partners are only being segmented into three categories -- Authorized, Silver and Gold -- as the top two tiers under the former program. Premier and Platinum are eliminated.

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Tely Labs introduced the Premier and Platinum tiers a little over a year ago, but Claus said partner feedback suggested fewer tiers made the program easier to navigate.

"The channel wants simplicity," Claus told CRN. "When you get into four or five different levels, it's confusing."

David Crilley, vice president of marketing at Tely Labs, said the bulk of that confusion or complexity stemmed from the fact that Premier and Platinum partners were buying Tely Labs products directly from Tely Labs, while partners at the lower three levels were required to buy through distribution. Moving forward, the Authorized, Silver and Gold partners will continue to buy exclusively through distribution.

"Simplicity is what people need," Crilley said. "We needed to make it very simple for partners to do business with us, and that was the clear feedback we got."

Claus said the six partners at the Premier and Platinum levels will be moved to Gold status going forward.

Paul Richards, account executive at Haverford Systems, a Downingtown, Pa.-based Platinum Tely Labs partners, applauded Tely Labs' efforts to simplify its program, but said it's disappointing he will no longer be able to buy directly from Tely Labs, as margins tended to be higher under that model versus going through distribution.

"For those of us who have been successful and doing what we have to do, you know, it's not the best thing in the world to hear that they are going direct with distribution," Richards said.

Richards did note, however, that he expects growth in his Tely Labs business overall this year, as the company's flagship TelyHD Pro videoconferencing system -- which sells for under $1,000 -- is such a solid fit for Harverford Systems' SMBcustomers.

"It is really a well-suited product for that industry, and that’s why we took it on," he said.

Another big change under the new telyPartner program is the ability for partners to sell bundled TelyLabs solutions. For example, partners can now choose from SKUs that include the telyHD Pro videoconferencing system bundled with external audio devices.

They also now can purchase a telyHD Pro system that comes with two- or three-year subscription options for telyCloud, a service that allows for multiparty conferencing without the need for additional on-premise equipment. In the past, the telCloud subscription could only be sold up to one year.

Crilley said the bundled SKUs and longer telyCloud subscriptions were designed to yield richer margins for partners.

"We bundled things together and, when we do that, we have more margin to play with," Crilley said.

The revamped telyPartner program also, for the first time, lets Tely Labs partners complete their training and certification requirements online, rather than have to complete them in person or through videoconferencing.

Tely Labs today has roughly 100 partners in North America, according to Claus. In addition to making it easier for existing partners to do business with Tely Labs, the new telyPartner program is aimed at helping the Redwood City, Calif.-based company onboard more partners looking to deliver videoconferencing solutions purpose-built for smaller- and midsize companies, Claus said.

"Demand is there. People want cloud-based solutions and affordable conferencing ... and so Tely Labs has actually really taken the leadership position in the sub-$1,000 HD video marketplace," Claus said. "We are getting more and more inquiries every day from some of the established resellers out there that maybe weren't previously interested. The market is speaking pretty loudly."