Mitel Wants Single-Vendor VARsBy Sharon Linsenbach | Print
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Despite the channel becoming more multivendor, Mitel is trying to encourage VARs to sell its products exclusively.
Mitel is aiming to turn the multivendor channel on its head by asking partners to join its Exclusive Business Partner Program and guarantee all new sales to Mitel—a move some partners have welcomed.
Mitel, which merged with Inter-tel in August 2007, now boasts 800 channel partners and said it is encouraging them to take advantage of its EBP program to boost sales.
The EBP program began at Inter-tel and has been incorporated into Mitel. While membership is not mandatory, partners who sign up for the program and commit 100 percent of new sales to Mitel have access to greater levels of sales and technical support as well as training from the vendor.
According to Carter Chapman, director of channel sales at Mitel, the EBP program has 115 partners signed up and Chapman doesn't see the growth slowing down. "If I kept my foot on the accelerator, I know we could keep going and going and going," he said. However, he said, while Mitel isn't turning partners away, it is focused on making sure current Mitel partners are taken care of before recruiting new partners to the EBP program.
"We have to make sure that the promised support is in place, so we've backed off a little on the recruitment," he said.
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Steve Klenner, vice president and partner at BSB Communications, said selling a single vendor exclusively has helped simplify his business. "Before we joined the EBP program, we were selling three or four manufacturers' products, and it was impossible to keep all our technical people, sales and marketing up to speed on all the software, hardware and other products," he said. He added that being an exclusive partner gives his customers an extra level of trust, since they know his company is intimately familiar with Mitel's products.
Mark McKersie, president of First Telecommunications, another Mitel EBP partner, said that rather than putting his firm at a competitive disadvantage, partnering exclusively with Mitel actually increases the ability to make sales to customers with heterogeneous telecommunications environments.
"We take on all different systems out there—Avaya, Toshiba, NEC, for example. And because of our product knowledge, we are able to make sales against these other products all the time," said Klenner.
McKersie said Mitel's channel focus and the EBP program help him win business and take on other vendors in the market. "Mitel really understands the channel, and the cash flow, entrepreneurial business process issues we go through, and it helps us work through those," he said.
EBP partners are offered discounts, field sales and technical support, and training, as well as access to Mitel field representatives, who share sales, technical and marketing best practices and perform operational reviews, Chapman said.