From Volume to Value: Three Things to Know About Avaya’s Channel Changes

Avaya’s partner program, Avaya Connect, is transforming with the company. Instead of running a channel focused on volume, the new partner program, set to launch in fiscal year 2015, will bring value to the forefront.

“By replacing today’s significant revenue requirements with expertise and customer satisfaction requirements, we’re creating a program fit for Avaya’s future,” explained Richard Steranka, vice president, Avaya Global Partner Organization. “When we put customers and quality top of mind, we ready ourselves and our partners for growth. When partners bring their expertise to the table, customers and Avaya benefit – as we like to say, ‘proven expertise, powerful results.’”

Read on to find out why this is a win-win-win for Avaya, customers and, of course, partners.

Overall, these program changes will:

  1. Encourage Avaya to grow in new markets.
    The enhanced partner program will strengthen Avaya’s relationships with its channel partners and increase partner loyalty. Solution expertise selling can target underexplored markets and encourage faster new product adoption. Quite simply, this program means a better bottom line and increased opportunities for the company.
  2. Improve customer experiences.
    For a partner to move up in the ranks, customers must vouch that the partner has demonstrated a high level of competency in its Solution Expert designation. Customer satisfaction has been completely removed from some competitors’ channel programs (cough, Cisco, cough), setting up Avaya to be best-in-class. More so, specializations empower customers to connect with partners whose expertise fits their needs.
  3. Give partners a fast track to success. In the past, it hasn’t been easy for partners focusing on the midmarket or stand-alone selling to break into higher status levels, which bring better buy discounts. The upcoming channel changes will put specialization paramount and lessen those barriers to entry.

The key is the introduction of the following new Solution Experts designations: two enterprise (enterprise UC and enterprise contact center), two midmarket (midmarket UC and midmarket contact center) and two (networking and video) stand-alone designations, which will enable partners to rise in the ranks because of their skillset, instead of revenue alone.

To achieve a Solution Expert designation, partners need to acquire credentials in sales and design, maintain a high customer satisfaction score and attain revenue thresholds, though much lower than in the past. Silver, Gold and Platinum level statuses will be determined based on the number of Solution Expert designations achieved by each partner company. These changes support differentiation and reflect Avaya’s push into underexplored segments, like the midmarket.

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Giving Avaya Channel Partners the Edge for Success

Since joining Avaya 14 months ago, I’ve been working closely with our channel partners and distributors to ensure we’re in lockstep when it comes to our strategy for mutual profitability and growth. Together we agree that in order to succeed, we must provide our customers with flexible, integrated solutions and services that help them address the business needs in today’s digital marketplace.

Over the last eight months, Avaya has launched several powerful, innovative solutions—including Avaya Breeze™ Platform, Avaya Oceana™ Solution, and Avaya Equinox™ Experience—that can help businesses understand, predict and respond to their ever-evolving customer needs. By selling Avaya solutions, our channel partners can take full advantage of this growing market by positioning themselves as providers of game-changing solutions that take customer experience to a whole new level.

Another area where Avaya and our channel partners have combined efforts is through our persistent focus on customer satisfaction. This extra attention has garnered amazing results. Avaya’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) has risen to an outstanding 58—up nearly 40 points since 2011—reflecting our increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. And we’re not the only ones impressed by this achievement. Read the recent article in The Harvard Business Review.

On 1 November, we launched our new channel partner program Avaya EdgeSM. This new program will improve the rewards our partners receive for adopting our new solutions and delivering exceptional customer value. It will also better equip them to thrive in today’s software and services industry by ensuring they possess the expertise required to provide the transformative solutions businesses need in today’s digital marketplace.

Avaya Edge’s simplified structure takes less time for partners to manage, streamlines program requirements, rewards their solution expertise, and accelerates their path to discounts. By assigning partners one of three new gem levels—Diamond, Sapphire, or Emerald—and go-to-market tracks, partners can better differentiate themselves through their expertise, and customers will have a better understanding of the value they can expect to receive.

To ensure this transition does not negatively impact any of our partners, each has been evaluated under both the new and previous program (Avaya Connect), and will be assigned the higher designation level earned. They will maintain that level for the first six months.

The Avaya Edge partner program enables our partners to thrive in the software and services market, by providing solutions and service that accommodate virtually the entire spectrum of business demands. With our unparalleled solutions, relentless customer focus and new partner program, now is absolutely the best time to be a partner with Avaya!