CRN Exclusive: Verizon Expanding Partner Program To Public Sector; Partners Predict Growth

Verizon Enterprise Solutions is recruiting, training and developing partners to sell and drive growth in the public sector by expanding its Verizon Partner Program with the addition of a new Public Sector Channel Program.

There is "a ton of money to be made" by partners in the public sector because of the high demand for Verizon services in that space, said Adam Famularo, Verizon Enterprise Solutions vice president of global channels, Basking Ridge, N.J., noting that Verizon is the largest communications provider to the U.S. federal government.

"We've always had a very large direct sales public sector business, and our leadership there realized that we can't continue to grow and scale the public sector business without a complementary public sector channel organization," said Famularo in an interview with CRN. "We're taking all of the benefits in the commercial business [channel program] and bringing them over to the public sector -- training, certification, deal registration, net neutral compensation -- all of those things are now in place where we will be able to work with our public sector team to build and develop a partner ecosystem to go along with our traditional sales team."

[Related: Verizon Trying To Nab Competitors' Partners With New Program]

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Famularo said the public sector channel program syncs up Verizon's sales teams with a partner's sales force to build and develop go-to-market strategies. The program will be led by newly hired channel veteran Alex Hart, managing director, public sector channels at Verizon Enterprise Solutions. Hart previously held roles at VMware as senior director of sales for the U.S. public sector channels and was director of public sector channel sales at Symantec.

"Hart will drive this business forward," said Famularo. "He has deep executive relationships and knowledge of how that marketplace works and operates and the partners that reside within it."

Hart will lead the initiative to help enable public sector channel partners to offer Verizon-branded, enterprise-class services to government agencies across the local, state, federal and education markets. VARs, agents, solution providers and system integrators can now offer cloud, mobility, Internet of Things, advanced communications and intelligent networking solutions to their client base, according to Famularo.

Dennis Kellam, vice president of the public sector at Unified Connection, a Melville, N.Y.-based Verizon-exclusive partner who has joined the public sector partner program, said the program opens up new revenue avenues for partners and will "dramatically" help his own company boost sales.

Kellam said Verizon was hesitant in the past to open up its offerings to the channel in the public sector because of the strenuous rules, procedures and expertise needed to be successful when dealing with government agencies, which could be risky for Verizon.

"They're finally understanding that they can manage the risk and provide a greater opportunity for incremental revenue to be coming in," said Kellam. "This gives another way for the channel partners to augment the revenue streams. It keeps the profitability up, and the revenue aspect is what drives every partner."

The public sector program is on par with Verizon's overall partner program, which includes nearly 500 companies and offers a three-tiered benefit structure – bronze, gold and platinum. Channel partners also have access to the Verizon Partner Portal and joint marketing and business plans.

Craig Abod, president of Carahsoft Technology, a Reston, Va.-based government IT solution provider and Verizon partner, said Verizon's offerings equip his company with tools it previously didn’t have access to when selling to government agencies.

"We don't have anything else that we support in the government sector that has all the technologies Verizon has, like the enterprise-class service offerings they bring to the table," said Abod. "I'm a little surprised they brought that much capability in terms of enabling and supporting the channel as quick as they did. ... It's a good opportunity for everybody."

Verizon is looking to onboard several dozen agents, resellers, system integrators and alliance partners with expertise in the public sector, with hopes to add hundreds more over the next few years, Famularo said.

"It's going to grow very rapidly," he said.