Adtran seeks deeper understanding of partners’ business

Meggin Sawyer, vice president of sales for end user markets at Adtran

Meggin Sawyer, vice president of sales for end user markets at Adtran

HUNTSVILLE, AL – Adtran is looking to get closer to its channel partners and better understand the changes facing both them and the customers they serve, the company’s top channel-facing executive says.

Speaking to at the company’s Connect press and analyst conference at its headquarters here, Meggin Sawyer, vice president of sales for end user markets at Adtran, said the company is switching its channel focus from one of mass recruitment to one of building greater understanding.

Sawyer, who previously headed up the enterprise and service provider business for the networking vendor, just moved into the new role, which includes ownership of its business solutions and cloud offerings, two months ago, and said that after taking a look around her new portfolio, she saw a disconnect.

“We have so many channels, but one of the things was missing was Adtran’s understanding of what the market looks like to our partners,” Sawyer said. “Partners changing, and customers are changing with the rise of line-of-business decision makers and the rise of cloud-based equipment. If felt like there was a disparity in understanding what they’re going through in changing their models.”

The company boasts 4,000 partners in the space, which essentially includes everything but Adtran’s large service provider business, and the segment is 100 per cent channel-driven. And Sawyer said it will say that way, but how it uses its channel resources is changing, from a focus on recruiting as many solution providers as possible, to one that’s more end-user facing.

“They’re spending a lot more time in front of end users, trying to understand their challenges and help partners position our solutions better,” Sawyer said. “They’re going out and calling on end users, with or without partners, and bringing the business back through the channel.”

The company debuted the new structure, which was introduced July 1, should start showing results over the last quarter of the year, Sawyer expects. In the long term, Sawyer said she expects the better understanding of partner needs and the needs of their customers will lead to a better alignment between her division’s offerings and the channel’s needs, particularly when it comes to recurring revenue and as-a-service offerings.

“Over time, they should expect a wide expansion in cloud services opportunities that they can sell,” Sawyer said. “Managed WiFi and managed switching is just the tip of the iceberg for fus.”

The new focus contrasts the previous structure of the channel organization, in which developing channels was the primary focus, and that primarily meant recruitment. While the doors are by no means shut to new partners, Sawyer said she’s “happy with our coverage” currently, and is shifting focus from adding new partners to doing more business with current partners.

“I want our partners to see value in positioning Adtran solutions to their users,” she said.