New North America Sales Leader Prepares Zyxel For Channel Program Changes, Aggressive Recruitment Effort

Zyxel's new sales leader, David Soares, is preparing an aggressive partner recruitment push for the new year, as well as fundamental changes to the company's channel program designed to push partners into the cloud arena.

Soares was named vice president of sales for North America by the Anaheim, Calif., networking equipment vendor Tuesday. He told CRN he has plans to boost partners' earning potential, steer the channel toward a more cloud-focused managed service provider model, and lure partners away from competitors including Cisco Meraki, Ruckus Wireless and Ubiquiti.

Zyxel overhauled its channel program about two years ago, and Soares said it's time for a full tune-up to counter the creeping advance of competition from e-commerce sites. "The number of VARs selling our products every month was declining, and when I talked to distribution, it looks like that's a trend in the industry where the number of VARs is declining. We were looking into why that was, and when I speak to VARs, they're finding it hard to compete against e-commerce," Soares said.

[Related: New Zyxel Sales Boss On Retooling Channel Program, And Pinching Partners From Cisco Meraki, Ruckus And Ubiquiti]

Pivoting to a managed, recurring revenue model is a big part of combating the e-commerce trend, Soares said. "There are more and more customers who like the idea of network managed services where your VAR takes care of the network for you on an ongoing basis," he said. "You pay them a monthly service fee and they make sure your network stays up and running, and that means there's less chance for downtime on your network. We've seen some success in that area where VARs are making the transition from VAR to becoming a managed service provider using our cloud network managed services."

The changes Soares plans to make to Zyxel's program at the beginning of 2018 include new, more advantageous discount levels for partners, and those discounts will be applied across the board, rather than on particular products. The company sells a wide range of switches, routers, access points and firewalls, as well as a cloud networking offering called Nebula.

The new discount levels will be 8 percent and 12 percent for all products with an additional 10 percent for selected products that Zyxel wants to steer its partner base toward -- for example, its Nebula cloud networking offering. The new structure gives partners the potential to realize discounts of up to 22 percent.

Still Soares realizes that not all of Zyxel's 2,700 North American partners are ready to jump into life as an MSP selling gear as a managed product or cloud service, so he is ramping up recruiting efforts to bring about 30 more MSPs into the Zyxel fold. Without question, those new partners will come from competitors' partner ranks, especially Ubiquiti, he said. "Some MSPs that sell Ubiquiti are looking for second options, but there are some Ubiquiti MSPs that are not at all happy with the reliability and are looking to change altogether to a different vendor, and that's a good opportunity for us," Soares said.

Soares said Zyxel's competitive stance is to be less expensive than either Cisco Meraki or Ruckus, and more reliable than Ubiquiti.

Bob Savage, CEO of Savage Consulting, a longtime Zyxel partner based in Tampa, Fla., said that strategy works very well for Savage Consulting's market.

"We go after medical and dental, and [Zyxel] is economical -- they can afford it," Savage said. "Doctors are really frugal, and if you go in there with a high-priced solution you're not going to make the sale. Zyxel is medium-priced, and it does everything the other guys do, so you're a hero."

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