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Rejuvenated Avaya Channel Program Set To Help Partners Go After Hybrid Communications Opportunities

Avaya is providing support to help partners ‘talk cloud’ with their customers, as well as help shifting from an up-front revenue model to a monthly recurring revenue model, the company's global director of channel strategy and programs tells CRN.

Avaya is hitting the refresh button on its Edge Channel Partner Program with the goal of fueling sales growth across both premises-based and cloud communications.

While the move to the cloud is on many customer road maps, solution providers are serving customers at all different points of the cloud migration journey. Hybrid communications is a big focus for Avaya this year, and the company wants all of its partners to have equal access to growth opportunities.

Avaya has been busy integrating feedback from its existing partner base to improve the Edge Channel Partner Program, Carl Knerr, Avaya's global director of channel strategy and programs, told CRN. That includes implementing a simplified incentive structure with increased rebates and benefits for all partner types, including large VARs, solution providers serving the midmarket and small businesses, and systems integrators.

[Related: CRN Interview: Avaya Channel Leader On Breaking Down Barriers To Growth After Bankruptcy ]

The Avaya channel program has three tiers based on revenue achieved—Emerald, Sapphire, and its top level, Diamond. Avaya wants to bring on new partners, especially at the Emerald level.

"We do a lot of business with our Diamond partners, but they struggle a little with growth," Knerr said. Bringing on new partners that cater to smaller customers could help open the door for more cloud solutions sales, he said.

Avaya does the majority of its sales through the channel—upward of 80 percent—but knew it needed to make it easier for partners to work with the company. That's why the Edge program now features nine commission rates, a dramatic reduction from its 126 possible rates of the past. Partners will now know ahead of time what their commission rate will be, and the program overall is easier to digest, Knerr said.

"The program was unnecessarily complex," he said. "If partners can’t connect behaviors to dollars, we're not going to be successful."

To go deeper with Avaya, the program is also offering a customer rebate program that pays a partner for adding a new service, such as unified communications or contact center, to an existing customer account, and that account is treated by Avaya as a new customer.

Avaya, based in Santa Clara, Calif., emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2017 after selling off its networking business to Extreme Networks. Since then, the unified communications provider has been focused on partner recruitment and growing cloud-based communications sales.

Hitting Avaya's revenue targets for born-in-the-cloud solution providers has been difficult because cloud revenue rolls in each month, rather than offering one large, up-front payment for partners. With that concern in mind, Avaya introduced Cloud Integrator, which allows partners to "gem up" to the Sapphire or Diamond level of the channel program based on the number of cloud seats sold.

"This allows our cloud partners to compete on more even footing with our existing partner community," Knerr said.

Avaya is also providing support to help partners "talk cloud" with their customers, as well as help shifting from an up-front revenue model to a monthly recurring revenue model, he said. The company is accomplishing this by giving partners who make a cloud sale one up-front payment, as well as monthly recurring payouts.

"We believe this will really help partners make that transition to a monthly recurring growth model."

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