6 Ways Nitel Says It's Paving The Way For Partner Growth

Partners Welcome Here

Nitel newcomer Jason Dishon, executive vice president of sales and marketing, joined the telecom service provider in April from Windstream. Since then, Dishon has been focused on building out the channel road map, and what the company can do to help partners succeed.

Dishon sat down with CRN to talk about the work he's been doing to bolster Nitel's channel strategy – including the addition of new hires and training for partners -- and the results he's seeing as his first 90 days with the provider draw to a close. Here are six things he wants partners to know about the channel plans.

What do you want partners to know, first and foremost, about Nitel?

We are a true WAN company and we want to be known for our SD-WAN play catering to our WAN excellence across the domestic and international footprint. Our ability to reach any type of customer is very important, as is the presence of SD-WAN. SD-WAN is hot and heavy right now, and we went with Versa Networks over the VeloCloud platform for our offering. The abilities on our Versa platform [are] just amazing. I think we are starting to see that traction with our partners as they embrace that [offering]. It gives them the ability to do single-site SD-WAN opportunities, all the way up to multisite SD-WAN, and it also has that security [element] on the product as well. When you combine it with the WAN strategy that we have, we are a great fit across the board for international and domestic customers. It's really about rebranding those messages to our partners, re-educating them, and giving them tools and resources to grow their base and portfolio.

What drew you to Nitel?

The one thing that really brought me to Nitel was their channel vision. They are a channel-friendly company and it's very refreshing to see their willingness to expand and grow in the channel. I've spent the last couple months digging into the back-office and sales teams, and developing a plan to go forward.

It's important for us to expand our partnerships that are already out there, but also expand our partner base across the country. Right now, our rebranding project is really giving our partners a better understanding of who Nitel is, our strategy, and how we want to be successful with them. We are also [working to] understand the dynamics of our partners.

Tell us about the recent hires you've brought on, and how these changes will help Nitel strengthen its channel strategy.

I brought in Chris Shubert [as director of business development,] who is going to help with our partner strategy as far as alignment with the big master agents, and then I brought on Taylor Castranova to run channel sales and to build out an account development team, which Nitel didn’t have.

With that comes some alignment changes and organizational structure we have to put in place because we need to get our channel managers and account management teams in place to align properly with our partners. The goal of this, of course, is to understand what kind of business model our partners are -- are they a VAR, telecom reseller or master agent -- that’s something we really want to focus on because building a plan around each partner is important to us, but also the alignment of account managers and channel managers to those partners is going to be extremely important as we grow.

Is Nitel actively recruiting new kinds of partners?

We have an aggressive approach right now. Our master agents and sub-agent activity is strong. But if we look out at the MSP and VAR community, we are looking to grow that [partner base] significantly. I would say we'd like to bring in another 20 [percent to] 30 percent of partners over what we have today. [Shubert] is putting a program together that would incorporate VARs, MSPs, and cloud vendors and partners, so we definitely want that type of partner. We'll be going after them for remainder of the year.

We had some many partners selling Nitel, but Nitel wasn’t top of mind for many because they didn’t understand what our vision was. Just in the first 90 days I've been with Nitel, we have partners that never sold Nitel before producing deals and revenue with us now, so that’s the exciting part.

How do you plan on educating your partners on SD-WAN and the opportunities for the emerging technology?

One of our big goals is rolling out SD-WAN training that will start going out to our partners next month. As we start sitting down with partners and doing business reviews, one of the things we want to take a look at is their existing client base and trying to find where SD-WAN fits. A lot of partners are still learning SD-WAN, and we really have to educate them. That education process is going to be combined with Nitel's SD-WAN story, the vision and the road map. The SD-WAN strategy really goes with the WAN strategy we already have in place, so it's all about getting in front of the partner and educating them, and we'll have a combination of online and in-person training.

Closing out your first 90 days with Nitel, what is your message to partners?

Look out for Nitel. It's more of a niche provider that really fits the needs of our partners, and as we expand and grow, I want to the partner community to know we are very channel-friendly, we are here to grow the channel, and we are going to be making sure we have the right support for our partners. That includes the back-office support teams, building out the account management team that is going to help partners grow their base, and then the expansion of channel mangers and regional managers in the field.