CRN Exclusive: ZyXel Revamps Partner Program, Cuts Out Gray Markets

Networking vendor ZyXel is touting its new partner program -- featuring new lifetime warranties on products, meet-or-beat competitor pricing and the elimination of the gray market -- as simpler and more lucrative for partners. ZyXel Freedom Program, launching Tuesday, is designed to enable resellers to grow faster and increase their margins, according to the vendor.

At least one partner sees the new partner program as better suited for today's solution provider.

"This new program is more conducive to the speed of business and the speed of technology today," said Jim Shipway, president of Bestcomm Networks, a Tucson, Ariz.-based solution provider and ZyXel partner. "There's some really great things [ZyXel] is doing here."

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With about 3,000 channel partners in North America, the small- to midsize-business-focused vendor is trying to onboard new partners with the simplified program launch. The company is seeking to onboard network solution providers who are managed service providers and VARs that specialize in installations.

"We are going to make our partners more profitable through this new program, no doubt," said Jeff Gallifent, ZyXel's channel chief and director of channel sales for North America. "We're giving them more tools to simplify their life as far as getting a sales engineer involved and 24/7 tech support."

New benefits for channel partners in the Freedom Program include lifetime limited warranties on select switches, firewalls and wireless products; free technical training and product webinars; meet-or-beat competitor pricing; 24/7 technical support; lead referrals; sales engineer access; and advanced return merchandise authorization (RMA) replacement.

ZyXel also built a Freedom Margin Booster, which gives partners a discount at distribution. "The margin boost is simply so partners can make more margins on their deals," said Gallifent.

The Taiwan-based network security vendor, with U.S. headquarters in Anaheim, Calif., also says it's "eliminated" the gray markets.

"We have eliminated a lot of the channel conflict that's out there that most vendors see with the gray markets and the Amazon marketplace people," said Gallifent. "The VARs are the key to this industry."

Shipway said the gray market is always a challenge for solution providers.

"If I'm a solution provider and giving someone a turnkey solution and if they're shopping me online and Googling my products and saying, 'Well, I can buy it cheaper on the Internet,' well, I say, 'The Internet isn't delivering you a solution,' " said Shipway. "So this certainly helps eliminate that type of situation."

The program is based on simplification, with just two-tiers: Advocate and Ally. In order to obtain the higher Ally status, partners must sell $10,000 or make four transactions per quarter.

The Freedom Program stems from ZyXel's major realignment of its channel business, according to Gallifent, to better provide support resources, services opportunities and training without extra fees or complexities.

"We are trying to simplify it for the resellers. They don’t need a program that difficult for them for them to follow and to jump through hoops," said Gallifent. "When we redesigned our program, we said we need to make this simple."