It’s a move three years in the making, but Avaya is getting ready to take the last step in the transition of its channel program from one primarily based on sales volume to one primarily based on value-add.
At its Americas Executive Partner Forum in Cancun this week, the communications vendor signaled that it was going to change how partners reach “medal” status, the top three tiers of its program, Platinum, Gold, and Silver. Before, those tiers were largely gated by partner revenue. Under the new plan, partners will reach top tiers through achieving a number of the company’s new master specializations – three for platinum, two for gold, one for silver – as well as a reduced revenue requirement, and meeting specific customer satisfaction goals.
“We have many partners who have very specialized skillsets in certain areas, and they couldn’t get to Platinum because of the huge volume commitment required. We want to recognize their value,” said Barat Dickman, senior director, of global channel programs, and go-to-market strategy at Avaya.
Under the new scheme, Dickman said, partners will be able to reach the top tier through specializations and less revenue requirements, while large partners will still qualify because most of them tend to be broad in the areas they cover and are specialized against.
Exactly when the switchover will occur is not entirely clear. The new master specializations will debut in June of next year, with networking, midmarket, unified communications and contact center as the first four specializations. Dickman suggested that from there, the company will give partners “at least nine months” to ready their organizations for the new structure. At the same time, additional master specializations will be introduced. Dickman suggested he’d like to get about four more master specializations in the market by the end of next year, including one covering video and at least one covering cloud. With a larger number of available specializations, covering technologies, market sizes, and verticals, Dickman said it should be easy for even smaller partners to get move up the ranks.
“Say I’m a midmarket partner focused on telephony. I’ve got midmarket, I can probably get networking as well, then I need to just find one more – say cloud or video – to make Platinum. The goal is for partners to be able to get to Platinum without having to have an enterprise-focused practice,” he said.
The master specializations will also bring with them their own benefits. Partners holding a specialization will get additional discount on products in that category, on top of their tier-level discounts.
Converting the qualification system to a value-based model is the final step in a three-year journey for the vendor to turn its Avaya Connect channel program around. Over the last two years, the company has switched its benefits to be largely based on partner value-add as opposed to revenue levels, and Dickman said changing how the program is structured is “the last step of a ten-point plan. It’s probably 30 percent of the work, though.”
Dickman said the new program may be launched by the beginning of Avaya’s fiscal 2015, which begins in October of next year, but that at this point, he can’t commit to a date for the changeover.
“This is a totally new way for them to get medal status. We want to not move this faster than [our partners] can move,” he said. “We are not going to jolt the partners with this change.”