Avaya boosts rebates for top-tier partners

Richard Steranka, vice president of worldwide channels at Avaya.

Richard Steranka, vice president of worldwide channels at Avaya.

CANCUN – Avaya channel chief Richard Steranka Tuesday morning announced changes to its Grow Right 2 strategic rebates program that will make the program twice as lucrative for top partners, but will cut benefits paid to the partners in the company’s base-level Silver tier.

Previously, Grow Right 2, which providers rebates for sales of “strategic” Avaya products – those that are in key growth opportunities for the networking vendor – offered partners a flat 20 per cent rebate on eligible sales. Under changes outlined by Steranka at the company’s Avaya Executive Partner Forum here this week, Platinum partners will be eligible to receive up to 30 points in rebate, while mid-level Gold partners will remain at 20, and entry-level Silver level partners will see their rebates halved to 10 per cent.

“Handing you a small cheque is meaningless when you’ve got other vendors vying for your mindshare,” Steranka told partners.

While the move at the Platinum level is clearly being made to reward growth among top partners, Steranka said the goal with decreasing the benefit for Silver partners is not to punish, but rather to motivate.

“We hope that it will give you the motivation to pick up additional solution specialization to get back to where you’ve been, or even pick up two to get up to 30 per cent,” he said.

The change in Grow Right 2 payouts will be especially significant in Canada. In the past, those payouts have been capped at $50,000 per quarter in this country, but with the changes to the program, Steranka said the rebate scheme is moving to a flat worldwide quarterly maximum of $200,000. At least for now.

“If they hit that, we’ll move it to $250,000,” he suggested.

Steranka said the changes to the program were part of a broader push to move towards those “strategic” technologies, which will include prioritizing partner MDF applications that highlight those key opportunities, which include cloud and network fabrics.

“The message is simple – align with us, participate with us, and you will see significant increases in profitability with Avaya,” Steranka said. “Everything will drive towards those core areas.”

Steranka also outlined where the company has – and has not – succeeded in easing processes and streamlining systems for partners. He acknowledged that making Avaya easier to do business with is “a massive challenge” that means in cases “unraveling almost a decade of systems and processes” that are in place. He said the company has made great advances in approval times – especially around order creation, discount approvals, and product quotes, in some cases reducing timeliness from being measured in weeks to being measured in days. But there’s still the need for more improvement, particularly in key areas around renewals and contracts around services engagement where partners work with the vendor. He urged partners to hold the vendor’s feet to the fire when it comes to progress.

“Yell at us. Tell us what we’re not doing well, and especially where we’re hurting your commerce,” Steranka said.

The channel chief said that getting closer alignment between partners and the company’s services arm was his absolute top priority, but said it was a field where Avaya was going to tread carefully for fear of trampling existing relationships partners have with customers.

“We all have too much to lose not to get this right,” he told partners in attendance, stressing that keeping partners in mind when rolling out services integration mean both protecting partners’ margins interests, but also “ensuring long-term success with our mutual customers.”