Mitel is relaunching its channel strategy following a series of acquisitions that have left it with a range of converged technologies.
In the past 18 months, the vendor has shifted from a PABX manufacturer to providing systems including voice and data networking, mobility and voice messaging.
Andy White, UK director of indirect sales at Mitel, said: 'With Mitel Advantage, we are formalising our reseller strategy. Through acquisitions such as Gandalf and Plessey, we have recruited more partners. From having four or five dealers, we now have 218 Vars.'
A central theme of the strategy is providing distributors and resellers with data and voice products. White added: 'Our research shows that people are purchasing more from independent channels such as Computacenter.
The customer wants a whole system, the reseller can build the whole product and provide a single point of contact and important value add. Eighty per cent of our sales are single products, but the market is decreasing as the likes of Northamber and Ideal Hardware sell voice and data products.'
Mitel Advantage is based on a strategy already implemented in the US and uses a hybrid model selling direct through single-tier resellers and two-tier via distributors. The vendor now has six distribution partners - Datacon Activity, Ideal, Northamber, Rocom, UTL and LogicTech.
'We are putting our knowledge and support into our distributors and each has its own account manager,' said White. 'As our distributors become more confident, the resellers will take on more responsibility and as technologies are developed the process starts again.'
Jonathan Rigg, UK sales director at UTL, admitted it was difficult for distributors to keep up with technology developments in the voice and data market: 'The strength of any channel strategy is in accreditation.
Over-distribution can lead to channel conflict but Mitel's programme should create a smaller, more focused channel.'
He added: 'There is traditionally a culture clash between voice and data resellers. One has high margins and low service, the other has low margins but high service.'
Mitel will launch the strategy over the next few months. To become a Mitel accredited reseller (Mar), a Var will be accredited on a per product basis and re-accredited annually. Mars receive access to business planning, sales incentives and demo kit, plus Mitel's extranet, engineering and product training.
Advanced Mars that are accredited to offer a range of Mitel products are eligible to become a Mitel accredited solutions provider (Masp). As a Masp, a Var receives other benefits including channel marketing, access to the Mitel call centre, demo room access and product strategy sessions.
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