UC Vendor Mitel Strengthens Channel Plans

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

Unified communications and collaboration vendor Mitel has restructured its go-to-market strategy, becoming a company that sells almost exclusively through the channel.

Unified Communications and collaboration vendor Mitel is reinvigorating its channel strategy with new initiatives and a fresh crop of channel executives. The company is also creating a new Authorized Partner Service Program that will enable local channel partners to do some product service support.

These changes are the latest in Mitel's six-month restructuring transformation as the company rethinks how it goes to market, with a complete move to a channel-oriented sales strategy.

All new business is now going through channel partners, and even many existing enterprise accounts will be moved from the direct sales force to channel partners, said Renato Mariani, vice president of field marketing for North America at Mitel. Some existing accounts will remain direct because of customer preference, but for all intents and purposes, Mitel is now a 100 percent channel sales company.

"We’re no longer competing with our channel partners in the marketplace like most vendors do," Mariani said.

Earlier this year, Mitel implemented initiatives to simplify its core businesses to focus on its UC&C portfolio, and to align its business and channel strategies. The company has also positioned itself to focus heavily on virtualized voice and UC, Mariani explained.

Mariani is one of four key new channel executives who will drive Mitel’s channel sales strategy and programs going forward. The others include Stan Holcomb, Mitel’s new vice president of global services solutions; Dave Hand, vice president of sales for the central region; and Leo Cortjens, vice president of sales for the eastern region. The new executives are seasoned channel professionals, with experience at NEC (Mariani), Avaya (Holcomb), Nortel (Hand) and Polycom (Cortjens).

One of the new initiatives is the development of the Authorized Partner Service Program (APSP), which will shift some local support from Mitel’s internal staff to channel partners. According to Holcomb, with the focus on sales moving to the channel, it also makes sense to augment local Mitel resources with the resources of local partners. Through the APSP, Mitel partners will have the opportunity to fulfill local service contracts on behalf of Mitel. So far, more than 40 Mitel channel partners have signed up for the new program.

"It continues to reinforce our engagement with our partners and provides a revenue stream to them that was not evident before and continues to strengthen the partner relationships," Holcomb said.

Mitel has a large global channel partner ecosystem with approximately 1,600 partners, half of which are located in the U.S. The vendor is also in recruitment mode, looking for new partners that will have the right kind of assets it needs in its channel sales force. According to Mariani, the goal is not to over-saturate the market, but instead to methodically choose new partners that fit certain profiles, particularly those that have expanded or plan to expand into the virtualization UC market.

Augmenting the virtualization side of Mitel’s business with accreditation and education is the initial focus on recruitment, he said.

"Everywhere that they look, they’re going to see opportunities come their way," Mariani said.