Avant Sets Sights On Expansion, With New Channel Programs In Canada And The U.K

Trusted advisers aren't just in demand in the U.S. anymore, according to Avant. As such, the master agent is expanding its international reach by supporting channel sales in the United Kingdom and Canada.

While the "reseller" channel partner model has been popular internationally for years, many countries outside the U.S. are new to the agency, or referral partner, model. Avant wants to evangelize the role of the consultant partner and give international solution providers access to recurring revenue, said Jennifer Gallego, one of Avant's co-founders and executive vice president of sales, West and international channel.

In 2017, Avant's international sales totaled $6 million, and the company plans to help drive sales so that international solution providers are closing more deals and U.S.-based partners have the chance to nab more international business.

[Related: Avant's Channel Investments Pay Off With UCaaS and SD-WAN Sales Windfall]

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To that end, Avant has launched a channel program for Canada that includes more than 12 new Canadian supplier partners. The U.K. channel program, meanwhile, initially will include more than 20 suppliers, and both supplier lists will continue to grow. The master agent is evaluating its existing portfolio of suppliers to determine if these companies would be a good fit on an international scale, Gallego said.

Avant also be will vetting suppliers to determine whether they have partner programs and the right contracts and support in place for solution providers. In addition, the master agent will be curating its portfolio of suppliers to match the popular services that local customers are demanding so that solution providers in the given market will be successful. For example, Unified Communications as a Service is a hot technology in Canada right now, she said.

"In the near term, we will be bringing on more suppliers and resources because of the demand we are seeing in those international markets," Gallego added.

The role of the agency model is still immature internationally, with the U.K. slightly ahead of Canada, she said.

"Three or four years ago, international customers didn't understand the concept of the consultant partner model – every partner was writing on their own paper, and quickly the market has come to understand it and prefer to purchase through those avenues," she said. "We're educating service providers up there on what their partner programs should look like, and the trusted advisers on new technologies."

Avant plans to offer training to its international solution providers and will bring its sales and engineering resources in front of their customers if need be, Gallego said.

The company will support its Canadian expansion remotely out of its Chicago-based headquarters and will work through distribution partner CDW and its London office to support efforts in the U.K. Gallego will lead both programs.

Avant also plans to expand its Chicago-based BattleLab, a training and briefing center for channel partners and their end customers, into more U.S. cities. Right now, Avant has its sights set on Atlanta and Dallas as locations for its next two hubs.

212 Communications, a telecommunications solution provider and an Avant partner, has closed deals with customers with the help of the BattleLab and is looking forward to the company's planned expansion, said Krista Saumsiegle, managing partner for 212 Communications.

When one of 212's clients was considering moving to SD-WAN and off its MPLS network, Saumsiegle and her customer flew out to Avant's BattleLab to meet face-to-face with Avant's engineering team in the "battle room."

Avant's team knew the right questions to ask the customer and helped put together the right solution. Avant also was able to guide the customer through some challenges it was facing with its Microsoft Azure environment, she said.

"It was really nice to sit down together in a workroom with no distractions, specifically to work through problems and come to the right fit," she said. "And [the partner] doesn’t have to convince the customer because they helped design the solution."

From guiding partners and customers on emerging technologies such as SD-WAN to helping to implement the right cloud solution, Avant brings in-depth expertise to the table that solution providers -- especially those that have had a focus on traditional networking or telecom products -- need, Saumsiegle said.