Avaya to partners: Make Evolutions your event

Roberto Ricossa, vice president of marketing, Avaya Americas

Roberto Ricossa, vice president of marketing, Avaya Americas

Avaya’s Evolutions tour makes its first Canadian stop of the year with an event at the south building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre tomorrow. And while the networking vendor’s name looms large over the event, executives I spoke to at the company’s Executive Partner Forum in Cancun, Mex. last week were unanimous.

Their message to partners: This is as much your event as it is ours.

Roberto Ricossa, vice president of marketing for Avaya Americas, brought the concept of Evolutions first to Latin America and Canada three years ago, and led the event’s charge into the U.S. this year.

His biggest lesson for partners: like so many other things in life, you get out of it what you put in.

“When a partner sees an event like Evolutions as their event, that’s when they become successful with it,” Ricossa said.

The event in Toronto features presentations from Avaya Canada president Ross Pellizzari, Avaya Canada marketing leader Robert Daleman, Avaya Americas president John DiLullo, and an interview between Avaya applications and emerging technologies boss Brett Shockley and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

But the event also prominently features the company’s partners – top sponsor’s for the day’s festivities include Bell, Telus, Brantel Networks, Combat Networks, and Unity Telecom, among other Avaya-affiliated solution providers.

The events started out as a way to “answer the noise” about the Avaya/Nortel combination, Ricossa said. But they’ve become much more than that. Ricossa said that with attendance into the thousands in some venues, Evolutions in many ways “has gone viral.”

Some of the successes of the event: Ricossa estimates that Evolutions has resulted in Avaya influencing $200 million worth of pipeline, and after this year’s kickoff event in Chicago, he said one partner was able to point to 45 leads as a result of participating in the event. That’s resulting in more partners taking a serious look at the show.

“I’ve had partner who were hesitant to participate, to bring ‘my’ customers in front of all the other partners there,” he said. “But if they think they’re going to be the only ones who could invite their customers, they’re wrong.”

The company is also clearly paying attention to its partners’ participation in the event – at the Forum in Cancun, Newmarket, Ont.-based Unity Telecom took home a marketing innovation award its campaign at last year’s Evolutions that included team members in the colours of all the Canadian NHL teams (including, cheekily enough, the Phoenix Coyotes) and involved hockey legend Darryl Sittler.

If nothing else, the event provides an opportunity for partners to get in front of a large number of interested customers, and let their stories shine, said Avaya Americas president DiLullo, who identifies with the Glengarry Glenross line that nobody walks onto a car lot unless they want to buy a car.

“These people are spending a day having bad coffee and a rubber chicken lunch to learn about how they can boost their efficiency and productivity through technology,” DiLullo said. “If I were [an Avaya partner], I would leverage this as the marquis event of the year in Canada. They should each be getting hundreds of swipes.”

Along with Tuesday’s event in Toronto, Avaya plans Evolutions stops in Ottawa on December 4, was well as stops in Montreal (February 12) and Calgary (March 6) early next year.