Avaya Shifts Partners to Selling Solutions in Key Segments
Avaya is making moves to shift its partners away from selling product and into selling solutions that address customer needs, citing a maturation of its technology portfolio and changing market demands.
At its 2012 U.S./Gov Sales Leadership and Partner Conference, Alan Baratz, Avaya senior vice president and president of Global Communications Systems, said 2012 is all about solutions.
“We’re moving from individual products to bringing to market complete end-to-end solutions,” he said. “And we’re going to do that in four key areas: video collaboration, mobile collaboration, enhanced customer experience and network simplification. It’s important that we focus on these because at the end of the day it’s about selling customer value and focusing on the use cases that create that value or solve problems for our customers. These solutions enable those use cases and our products underlie the solutions.”
It’s a change in strategy for Avaya and its partner base (1,800 of whom are in the United States), which traditionally has settled into one of two main camps: communications or data. But changing market conditions and factors such as the consumerization of IT and increasing user demands are fueling the need to offer solutions that span both areas, Baratz said.
Consequently, it also means partners will need to increase their skill sets to remain relevant as the lines become ever more blurred.
“We are taking our partners into areas where they haven’t been focused before — contact center into unified communications or the data space, for example,” said Jeremy Butt, vice president of Worldwide Channels. “We’re helping partners at many ends of the spectrum — they have the opportunity to expand their portfolio. I would say this is a pretty good time and place for partners.”
And partners for the most part are recognizing the need to grow with the market, said Tom Mitchell, Avaya senior vice president and president, Avaya Go to Market.
“Change and transformation is an interesting experience – everyone knows the need to do it and there are compelling facts to sell [other technologies]. Those that have embraced the concept are growing more rapidly than those that haven’t,” he said.
While Avaya is taking a solutions approach with its partners, the company isn’t requiring partners to go full-boat with its technology — at least not immediately.
“We’ve been looking at how do we move our partners forward, and it’s not going to happen overnight,” said George Paolini, vice president of Global Communications Systems Solutions and Marketing. “You will see us with the full strength behind our products, and we’re going to be rolling out collateral and training to our partner base. The transition will happen over the next 18 months.”
Plus, he said, partners who sell with a solutions approach will receive better pricing and support over those partners who sell in a more piecemeal fashion.
Certainly the idea of selling solutions rather than products opens new opportunities for partners to approach their customers in a more consultative fashion — being proactive rather than reactive. Avaya isn’t the first company to take this tack with its partners, and it won’t be the last. Avaya’s legacy as a two-camp vendor will factor in to the success of this new approach — but with the right training, messaging and a goodly amount of hand-holding, Avaya’s solutions approach may be the right solution to bring together all its partners.