Avaya Canada lays out comprehensive midmarket strategy

IP Office strategy

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MISSISSAUGA – Deepening Avaya’s penetration in the midmarket in Canada is a top priority going forward in Canada. The Avaya Midmarket Select Program, which has been formally rolled out in Canada, is a key part of that, with the discounts provided for the sale of solutions-focused bundles being designed to significantly increase sales. The midmarket strategy goes far beyond cheaper prices, however, as Avaya Canada executives stressed at a lunch event this week for partners participating in the midmarket program.

ChannelBuzz earlier provided the specifics on the new Midmarket program, as well as the Avaya Canada executive team’s key role in bringing it to market. That participation means not only that Canada is overrepresented among the select partners globally – with 6 of the 40 global partners – but that the program is also being launched here first.

“We were the first in the world to get the program,” Avaya Canada Channel Leader told the assembled partners from the partners participating in the program at the Toronto Congress Centre. “We will fail very fast or be successful. The program is not perfect. It’s 70-80 per cent right and needs some tweaks. But there’s real value in starting first, as opposed to starting in January or February if we had not gone first.”

Getting the feedback from partners to make those tweaks to help maximize the chance of the program being successful, was a key objective of the event.

“We wanted to bring our select partners together, because we wanted feedback on what’s working and what’s not, Auld said. Based on partner feedback, a change to the Communications Server bundle has already been made from beta, to remove the requirement for handsets in the bundle.

He also stressed the importance of the positioning on how to sell the five Select bundles. These are: Mobile Engage, which is for and involving BYOD, remote and home workers; Customer Engage, a multi-channel offering for and unified communications; Communications Server, for core unified communications, Video Engage, for video and unified communications, and Engage Everywhere, the most comprehensive of the solutions.

“It is more than just a discounting program,” he said. “It is about how we can help you invest in your business.”

Auld also outlined the significant internal changes Avaya has made to get better midmarket coverage.

“We have had an awkward bifurcated coverage model, in which every enterprise and the S part of SMB space are covered, but what we don’t have is a lot of coverage in the 100-1000 space,” he said. “So what we have done is focus on contact and coverage.

“What we have done is taken resources that were overlay resources and put them into talking with customers,” Auld continued. “People who were in enablement, who didn’t own customers, but who owned partner relationships or a territory. We have moving them into owning midmarket customers, to improve contact and coverage.”

Auld told the partners at the event that these repurposed resources would be driving midmarket business to them.

“Their job is not to call you, but to drive new customers. But their role is not to fulfil and take deals direct. It is to drive 90 yards to the 10 yard line, and then pass it off to partners at the 10 yard line. Then these midmarket reps will call you and say they have a deal for you. That will be a significant difference from what you have seen in the past.”

Auld said that while this repositioning of internal resources was completely independent of the subsequent Midmarket Select Program, it complements it well.

“Having broader ownership of customers internally, which lets us talk to customers we weren’t talking to before, predates the Select Program, but it fits well into it,” he said. “The time, money and resources to do this have been lined up.”

Auld said that Avaya will be happy to help drive sales for the Select partners by making calls on their behalf, and are making free campaign assets available, including telemarketing scripts, and customizable email templates.

“We will also be driving leads, with a list of 8500 customers that fit the midmarket space,” Auld told the partners. “We will be going to you with them starting this week by round robin method.” He joked that these leads might not be the Glengarry list, and won’t be perfect up front, and requested that partners let them know if that was the case. At the same time, he said that ‘these leads suck’ is not helpful feedback!

Andy Corder, Senior Manager, Sales Engineering at Avaya Canada, went into more detail telling partners how to penetrate the mid-market more effectively, both by leveraging the new program, and using other strategies at their disposal.

“The new program uses discount to help you make more margin, allowing you to charge those rates and be competitive,” he said.

Corder told partners they need to work to take advantage of the mega-trends which are disrupting the industry. The new emphasis on social interaction, for example, has changed the meaning of what many customers now want in mobility.

“Mobility is not just BYOD any more, but reaching you on any device you are on,” he said. “Ensa [real-time and communications software acquired by Avaya earlier this year] improves the user experience across multiple different applications by giving you the same user experience, and that differentiates us from competitors.”

A show of hands from the approximately three dozen partners in the room found only two saying they had ever quoted Ensa, and that’s something Corder said has to change.

“When it comes to the choice of Aura messaging or Ensa, you have to have the conversation with customers,” he said. “We have two or three big deals in Canada that will be going Ensa. It’s cheap, cheap cheap, even against IP Office, which is licensed by port. Ensa will bring that cost down, and for bundles they will bring it down quite substantially over people who are not in this room.”

Partners also need to leverage the customer experience capabilities both IP Office and Aura offer.

“It’s all about how people engage with each other now,” Corder said. “If you are just selling dialtone, people sell it now for 15 dollars a month. Telephony is declining. Lots of customers in the install base aren’t moving because they have a contact centre, but customer experience overcomes this. Gartner says that in two years, 90 per cent of companies expect to compete almost entirely on the basis of customer experience. Instead of selling phones, you need to suggest these Select packages.”

Corder told partners there is still a large base of CS1000 customers sitting there, without upgrade.

“We have been trying to move Canada’s large install base for five years with some limited success,” he said. “There are eight million lines of heritage systems out there.” These range from an estimated 140 systems in the 5-49 seat space at the low end, with an average of 30 lines each, to about 160 systems in the 2,500 seat and up space, with an average of 10,000 lines each. In the key middle areas, Avaya estimated there are 16,000 systems between 50 and 499 seats, with around 100 lines each, and 800 systems between 500 and 2,499 seats, with an average of 618 lines.

“These are still viable solutions, but they can’t offer today’s extended business value,” Corder said. “We can overlay Aura over the CS1000 and deliver these advanced solutions to users.”

For midmarket customers, Corder said the target strategy has changed.

“Last year, we built our midmarket strategy around a product – IP Office – and this year it is around a range of customers,” he said. “Not everyone in this room sells Aura, but it is still a valid solution for some midmarket customers. Most of the Select packages are built around IP Office, and it is now almost as comprehensive as Aura or the CS 1000. Many people still think it’s for the sub-50 market, but it can do up to 512 ports of meet-me audio-conferencing. We also took the Web collaboration engine from Aura and put it in IP Office. The result is that you can go to 3000 seats with the Select platform on IP Office. It is a premium over the server edition, but it is this close to the CS 1000 and can do a lot more.”

Corder told partners that they need to talk about whether IP Office or Aura is best in each customer case.

“The first discussion to have is redundancy, then scalability. Over 150 nodes is Aura.”

Corder also related this discussion to Avaya’s road map plans for CS 1000, and to Avaya policy where any future end-of-sale for any product will have at least nine months notice, and typically six years of support following any end of sale, although hardware issues will likely appear before that time elapses.

“There is no plan for end-of-sale on the CS1000E platform, but no further development is planned after the current release 7.6,” he said. “For CS1000M [the groups product], we announced end of sale in June, so this is a great time to be talking about migration. Most CS1000M customers have less than 3000 users, so they are a great fit for IP Office.”

Corder also pointed out that Call Pilot Voice Messaging also went end-of-sale at the end of June.

“A lot are used for call centres, and this is where the Select packages come into play,” he said.

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