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.