6 Questions On The Mind Of The Avaya Channel, Answered

Avaya Channel Q&A

Avaya hosted its Northeast Partner Connection Day in Braintree, Mass., this week, welcoming hundreds of local partners to get the inside scoop on Avaya's product roadmap and sales strategies.

Here's a look at six pressing questions partners posed during the event -- related to managed services, call center solutions and everything in between -- and how the Avaya team responded.

How Can Partners Take Advantage Of Avaya's Managed Services Portfolio?

"We're working on a couple of things that are going to help. One is to have the pricing and the whole bidding process with managed services be a little simpler and more standardized so that you can pursue managed services without it all having to be done on a custom basis," said Bob Vissat, sales director, New Business Development at Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J.. "We are also looking to have a more standard portfolio for our partners. It's common today that when we are working deals, everything is done a little bit on a one-off or on an ad-hoc basis. So simplification, streamlining and, of course, compensation for you to help sell this business, which is out there."

Jim Geary, vice president, Northeast Sales at Avaya, added that partners should specifically look for managed services opportunities in the midmarket space, where customers lack larger IT teams and tend to look to MSPs to fill this gap.

How Are You Helping Partners Build Social Media Strategies?

"We have been talking a lot about Twitter today and using hashtags, and it's not just because we are checking a box. It's because that's where customers are looking. At Avaya, for our channel, what we have been doing is offering different services to help you do that," said Melissa Nacerino, director of U.S. channel marketing at Avaya. As an example, Nacerino pointed to Social Port, a dashboard that allows partner to access a library of Avaya-flavored content, select a social media platform and push content out to those platforms.

Avaya is also hosting a virtual marketing event on April 18th to discuss social media strategies targeted at the midmarket, Nacerino said.

What Is Avaya's Call Center Roadmap?

"We just made an announcement regarding Avaya's Elite Multichannel product that will align perfectly with our large base today of the [Communications Manager] Elite Call Center product," said Dick Strong, systems engineer at Avaya. "For call centers out there today, this will allow them become true contact centers. As their customers are starting to request from them different ways of contracting them -- through email, web and chat."

"We have Avaya Aura Contact Center, which is a really strong product for our CS1K [communications server lines], but, more importantly allows us to compete in RFPs with customers that are really taking a look at a SIP platform," Strong said, continuing: "Today, we are a market leader in contact center. With our overall investments ... it will secure our market share and continue to grow."

What New Avaya Support Services Can Partners Sell?

"There are a couple that I would mention. We used to have an offer called Software Release Management that we have shortened to Release Management," said Avaya's Vissat, noting that this updated version has a new and more robust feature set. "This is all about helping a customer handle the operational tasks associated with keeping software up-to-date, making sure it inter-operates with different products, and really to help overall with the supportability of their environment."

"The other one, if you have global accounts, we have a new offering right now called Global Advantage, which really is a way of helping a customer have a more consistent service delivery arrangement with Avaya around the world," Vissat continued. "There's a central point of contact, a central orchestration of problems globally, and there is centralized global billing, if that's something a customer is needing."

How Can Partners Better Align With Avaya?

"We have segmented our sales force now into Global, Major, [Government and Education] and Commercial, so as you are either transforming your business or trying to move up and down that stack, we need to be aligned there," said Jim Geary, vice president of northeast sales at Avaya. "So I think it's about planning ... and understanding the changes we've made in our structure and then how it fits into how you're structured today."

Gary Levy, an area channel leader at Avaya, added: "I agree with Jim. The only thing I would add is over-communicate, and if you don't get what you need, escalate through your channel team."

How Do You See Partners Staying Successful?

"As partners are starting their mid-enterprise practice, a lot of them are looking to the social generation of our college graduates to bring in these quick sales, quick time to cash opportunities," said Avaya's Levy.

Levy also noted that Avaya partners are seeing growth by tapping into midmarket opportunities with Avaya's IP Office solution.

"Those partners who are already in the small space and going to the midmarket are also growing higher and wider by ... looking out to IP Office and saying, 'we can sell this as well.' So, I think [it's] a transformation around [partner] product portfolios ... and bringing in some new life, and educating them from the top down," Levy said.