CRN Exclusive: Avaya Launches New Partner Program, Sheds 'Dormant' Partners In Order To 'Start Fresh'

As Avaya transforms itself into a software and services company, its partner program was in dire need of a rip and replace, said Avaya Channel Chief Steve Biondi. With thousands of dormant channel partners, the unified communications specialist is shifting its channel resources and creating new tracks to better enable partners in Avaya Edge, its new partner program.

"God bless the partners who've been working with us. We hadn't made it easy for them in the past," said Biondi, Avaya's global channel and mid-market sales leader who joined the company a year ago from Oracle. "The partners' ability to make extra money and more money and have a clearer line of sight to those earnings is far, far greater now."

Avaya Edge is a streamlined program with enhanced partner benefits tied with five new tracks tailor-made for specific markets (enterprise, midmarket and SMB) and individual solution providers.

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"Whether you were a reseller or a service provider, you were all kind of treated the same before," said Biondi. "But in this new model, we have tracks that say, 'If you're a reseller, here's what we expect and here's your sales motion and here's how to make money' – same thing if you’re a service provider. And we even have different tracks now for enterprise-specific partners and midmarket-specific partners."

New incentives have been created to reward partners for strategic areas of achievement, such as new product adoption, growth and customer value.

Avaya Edge also reduces by up to half the amount of time partners were previously required to complete credentials; meanwhile, partner co-delivery performance metrics have been reduced 56 percent, according to Biondi.

Dan Silverman, president of Telanet, a Toronto-based solution provider and Avaya partner, said the vendor previously recognized a partner's status by the amount of revenue being brought in and not by credibility and certifications. The new program now sheds that model and focuses on enabling partners that are committed to work with Avaya.

"Those partners that are committed to work with Avaya are going to see more of that [incentive] revenues from Avaya to help them grow," said Silverman. "Avaya wants to win back that majority of your business."

A major initiative has also been underway to winnow Avaya's 10,000-member channel community, many of which were dormant partners.

"When I first got here, we had about north of 10,000 partners in our program. Yet there was a significant number of folks who were dormant. We could see them crawling around the portal, but they weren't selling anything," said Biondi.

Biondi said around 30 percent of Avaya's channel fits into this dormant category, while about 20 percent generated the majority of revenues globally.

With Avaya Edge, all channel resources are now being pushed toward the top 20 percent of earners as well as the 50 percent of the remaining mid-level partners that are doing $50,000 to $100,000 transactions, according to Biondi.

"Those partners who are engaged to work with Avaya [are] committed to Avaya's vision; those partners are the ones that are going to get the market share of the support from Avaya," said Telanet's Silverman. "We’re going to get a dedicated channel manager. We're going to have somebody inside to help us grow our business … The mid-market promotion -- those promotions now are going to help me close a lot more business."

Biondi said the dormant partners hadn’t generated revenue for Avaya in a "long time," although "that's not to say they can't come back in and join."

"We wanted to make it clear that we're going to start fresh and the starting point is going to be the willingness and desire to go to market with us in a positive way," said Biondi. "Now is absolutely the best time to be a partner with Avaya."