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December 1, 2005
By Tara Seals
Mobile behemoth Verizon Wireless has launched a two-tier channel program to tap the nations 3.2 million small and medium businesses with voice and advanced 3G applications.
The new Business Solutions Program will act as a conduit to SMBs for the VZOffice suite of voice and data services, along with turnkey, prepackaged vertical applications to be delivered on the operators Evolution- Data Optimized (EV-DO) network.
We previously had a small program with data agents, but that was really just us sticking a toe in the water, says Anthony Heyman, vice president of Business Distribution for Verizon Wireless. This is a serious and firm commitment to the channel as a major strategic imperative.
The drivers for building a wideranging channel strategy are simple, says Heyman: Tapping the SMB space is critical to the future for 3G apps, and the only way to get there is with solutions providers. If you look at the sheer magnitude of this space, there are millions of companies, he explains. If you consider the number of account executives it would take to approach it, it becomes clear that you need a quality partnering strategy.
Meanwhile, he adds, not approaching it would be unwise, considering that SMBs spend a greater percentage of their overall budgets on mobility than most enterprises. These businesses are the early adopters, Heyman says. EV-DO apps will allow them to have their desktop out on the road, and to use specific vertical applications to facilitate their businesses. This market is a linchpin in expanding the adoption of 3G, especially in [location-based services], e-mail and custom applications.
VZOffice consists of voice plans with push-to-talk, wireless Internet access via air cards (60kbps to 80kbps nationally and 400kbps to 700kbps in EV-DO markets), data applications like e-mail and Blackberry service, global connectivity plans and custom applications like Fleet Administrator, a vehicle-tracking solution.
The operator will offer a mix of upfront and monthly recurring commission to partners, who will sell equipment and products at the same discounts available to the internal Verizon Wireless sales team. The carrier will then drop-ship products to the customer, relieving partners of the typical wireless channel burden of reselling equipment and subsidizing handsets.
Well be training solutions providers on VZOffice, and they can then specialize and bring in their own skill sets, to tap a certain segment. We have horizontal and vertical sales sheets available to help them with segmentation, along with data support techs on the solutions side, Heyman says.
A top tier of value-added distributors, or VADs, will sign up a second level of solutions providers under them. Initial VAD participants are Global Wireless Data, Mobile DataComm and Trio Teknologies. More VADs will be signed up in 2006, but the carrier says its focus is on rolling out the program correctly, rather than quickly.
Verizon Wireless will offer partner support on the national and field levels, including local sales support, pre-sales help with trials and demos, troubleshooting and a dedicated national operations center for partners, to answer questions and handle activations and service provisioning.
Also, the Verizon Wireless national sales team will have an internal salesperson aligned with each VAD. Their success will be linked, says Heyman. Channel conflict is a non-starter. While the program is mainly to go after SMBs, partners are not barred from larger accounts. A co-sale model for larger businesses will allow solutions providers to use existing contracts in place at the business to add on services, with internal and channel salespeople compensated accordingly.
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