Exclusive: Mitel Partner Program Now Equalizes Reward Structure

Lana King discusses the changes in an exclusive interview with Channel Futures. Find out what’s new.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

April 29, 2021

5 Min Read

Whether a traditional VAR or cloud-native, Mitel wants to measure all of its channel partners on equal grounds. That’s why Mitel, the cloud-based phone systems provider, is making some changes to its global partner program.


Mitel’s Lana King

“This last year demonstrated very clearly that customers were looking for new technology,” Lana King, vice president of partner programs, training and enablement, at Mitel, told Channel Futures in an exclusive interview.

Mitel’s partners responded to pandemic-fueled demand so effectively that executives realized they needed to rethink some incentives. The updates rolled out on Thursday should help partners strengthen their relationships with clients, “while also making it easier for them to maximize revenue and grow their business,” King said.

Equalizing Partner Reward Structures

The subscription model heralded by cloud technologies upended legacy partners’ income. The days of large, upfront payments from capital expenditure investments have largely disappeared. In their place came recurring revenue, smaller amounts that would take time – years, even – to amount to the commission on a one-time deal.

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.

For born-in-the-cloud partners, that’s been no biggie. But for their more entrenched counterparts, it has. Many have had to embrace the idea of taking on more responsibility for a customer’s technology environment. Thus began the shift toward “value-added” services – more management, support and implementation guidance, more input on over-the-top services – that would cement client loyalty beyond a single purchase.

For many cloud-native partners, that approach was standard. The difference in channel partner structures, then, led to some imbalance in vendor compensation. Mitel, for its part, is rectifying that situation: Cloud and on-site installations now garner the same point values.

“This equalizes the reward structure … among partner types,” King said.

Consider, too, that cloud has not taken root in some world regions like it has in North America and Europe. Now, partners in any Mitel region, regardless of the platform they’re selling, reap the same benefits via this partner program.

“This gives us the ability to have a global approach,” King said.

The changes start with more rewards for partners who own the customer’s full communications life cycle. (To be clear, Mitel still holds the contract with the end user.) Therefore, Mitel later this year will debut the Customer Lifecycle Engagement Certification. The curriculum will teach partners about software renewals, client retention and technology modernization — moving organizations from older platforms to cloud. In return, certified partners will get more program points and recognition.

Remember, Mitel’s Been Doing Points for a While Now

“Points are not new for us,” King said.

Indeed, Mitel rolled out the system in 2018 a few months after buying ShoreTel.

“What’s new is the training points,” King said. “We’re extending the opportunity for partners to …

… earn additional points.”

They will do so by taking the new training and proving they employ a certain number of “skilled, technical, competent individuals.”

And, King noted, “a good majority of our partners [already] achieve above and beyond the minimum requirements.”

All in all, King said, the new customer life cycle certification “is aligned in the spirit of how we very much value our partners and our joint customers. [It] gives us an opportunity to support and enable our partners … to get current, do more, modernize.”

Besides, the more skilled staff a partner has, the more effective they are and the more revenue they generate.

“We want to recognize partners for the investments they’re making,” King said.

On that note, the Mitel partner program includes new performance points for accelerated cloud sales and new subscription services. That comes as part of the MiCloud Connect Partner Managed initiative, which focuses on UCaaS sales. Adoption has grown so high amid COVID-19-fueled demand that Mitel is ramping up rewards: Partners who consistently position Mitel’s cloud solutions earn extra points, translating into higher discounts and commissions, and even more marketing assistance.

We recently compiled a list of 20 top UCaaS providers offering products and services via channel partners.

“We’re excited about the evolution of the partner program and there’s certainly more to come,” King said. “Our commitment to our partners is evident and continuing.”

All point changes take effect this month. Mitel will conduct its quarterly partner performance assessments in July and award points accordingly.

“The feedback from our partners has been very well received,” King said.

‘I’m Very Excited’

Jeff Lowdermilk is one of those partners. Lowdermilk is president of TSAChoice, which delivers managed services, surveillance, door access, audio-visual and cabling. TSAChoice also ranks as a Mitel gold partner.


TSAChoice’s Jeff Lowdermilk

“I’m very excited about receiving points for our certifications, as we pride ourselves in maintaining a highly trained team,” Lowdermilk told Channel Futures.

On top of the new Customer Lifecycle Engagement Certification, Lowdermilk would like to see Mitel extend an option to receive credit for customer satisfaction and supporting clients through the lifecycle. Nonetheless, he’s pleased with the partner program changes. They “allow us to continue to be the feet on the street,” he said.

“Mitel’s cloud offering helps us round out our ‘one company to call for all your tech solutions’ philosophy,” Lowdermilk said.

Look for Mitel to introduce more enhancements this year that will help Lowdermilk and his peers. The company is streamlining its quoting tools, extending its Partner Interaction Center and program support teams, and coming up with new marketing programs.

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About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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