Verizon (NYSE: VZ) wants in on midmarket business and the carrier figures, rightfully so, that it needs to do a better job chumming up to the channel to get there. Why? Midmarket customers prefer to work with local, knowledgeable solution providers, and it’s no secret that Verizon, which has fumbled its channel relationships on more than one occasion, could do with a little better partnering.
Taking a step in that direction, Verizon has enacted a thorough overhaul of its channel program, featuring new business models, a tiered benefits structure and enlivened training, funding and support resources. The effort–undoubtedly framed and led by Janet Schijns (pictured), Verizon Enterprise Solutions Medium Business and Channels vice president (who came from Motorola a little more than two years ago)–fuses the carrier’s various channel options under one hood and makes accessible to partners the same portfolio and support tools available to the direct sales team.
Verizon’s channel strategy is two-pronged: Develop solutions tailored to specific industries—health care, financial services, energy and utility, retail, hospitality, automotive, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, public sector—and support VARs, agents and solution providers to abbreviate the sales cycle and boost adoption of those solutions among midmarket customers in the target sectors.
So far, some big names have signed on to the program, including distributor Tech Data (NASDAQ: TECD) and IT solutions provider CDW. Telecom Brokerage, SOVA and General Datatech also are early participants. Tech Data and Verizon just finalized a deal to extend Verizon’s 4G LTE services to its roster of solution providers and authorizes the distributor to serve as the connecting agent for the carrier’s channel partners.
“The Verizon Partner Program puts customers first, by outfitting all of our channel partners with the right portfolio and support to shorten the sales cycle and immediately meet the demands of the market,” said Schijns. “Our new initiative is raising the bar in the industry by simplifying processes and providing comprehensive training and tools to create new business opportunities for our partners.”
In restructuring its channel program, Verizon has set out three partner designations, or what it is calling business models:
- Agent—partners who sell on Verizon’s behalf;
- Resale—partners who package, market and resell Verizon services; and
- Sell With—partners who with Verizon jointly market and sell unified and complementary solutions to vertical industries.
The tiered channel program provides benefits based on commitment level, and includes tools and rules of engagement. Members of Verizon’s channel program also can use Salesforce.com (NASDAQ: CRM) cloud solutions to collaborate with the carrier’s sales teams for managing marketing development funds, deal registration and joint go-to-market opportunities.
“Now, our partners have access to channel managers in the field, marketing development funds and a partner community powered by Salesforce to facilitate a better experience for solutions providers and customers,” said Schijns.