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9 minutes reading time (1766 words)

Partners prefer Mitel’s one-size-does-not-fit-all customer choice strategy

Techaisle’s latest commercial segment survey research data shows that for 92% of firms, customer experience solutions and employee experience platforms are a priority. In addition, 69% of mid-market firms are already planning investments in modernizing their customer-facing and employee productivity and communications solutions. Modern communication solutions are essential for 84% of firms, driving improved customer and employee engagement. Hence, 48% of these firms are either investing in or planning to invest in Unified Communications (UC) solutions. However, data also shows no one-size-fits-all approach to business communications solutions.

Partner commitment

We are hearing from partners that Mitel is firmly committed to supporting customers wherever they are in their communications journey with flexible, future-proofed solutions. Mitel’s portfolio of flexible, modern options is available any way that customers prefer to buy them: CAPEX options; subscription options; and a complete range of private, hybrid, and on-premises deployment options. Mitel’s UC Platform MiVoice Business improves the business experience by unifying all communication and collaboration needs into a single platform, providing greater deployment flexibility and superior customer lifecycle management. In addition to MiVoice Business’s private, public cloud, and on-premises deployment options, customers can choose a subscription model. Progressive and committed Mitel reseller partners are taking note of Mitel’s approach to solving a customer’s business communication requirements throughout their communications journey.

Alignment with partner strategy

Jean Baptiste Perraudin, Directeur Général Groupe, Foliateam, a US$63m revenue cloud provider in France, has been a Mitel partner for fifteen years and is one of the biggest integrators of Mitel’s MiVoice 5000, a feature-rich communications solution, including real-time workgroup collaboration, as well as contact-center capabilities. Foliateam was the first partner to adopt its subscription mode and build it in its cloud platforms, hosted and managed in its own data center. Mitel’s “one-solution-does-not-fit-all” approach aligns well with Foliateam’s strategic vision.

Perraudin told Techaisle, “We need to manage customers, and we cannot move them in two days to the cloud. We must manage their on-prem UC infrastructure and lead them to the cloud when and how they want it. And that's why our value proposition of both on-prem and hybrid cloud is of great value. We must meet the needs of the customer demand with different approaches and applications. For example, on-premises telephone and specific devices, but move the call center to the cloud.”

Infrastructure integration is a significant part of Foliateam’s business, and Perraudin asserts that Mitel has some of the industry’s best integration capabilities. Many of Foliateam’s 4,000 customers have integrated Microsoft Teams with Mitel MiCollab. He appreciates Mitel’s collaborative approach to winning a customer contract and remaining engaged for deployment.

Enabling partner business velocity

Techaisle’s latest channel partner survey research data reveals that training, marketing, incentives, and support are critical business velocity enablers. Unfortunately, Channel partners usually do not have the marketing, management, or technical resources needed to keep pace with joint planning and execution on many different fronts. As a result, vendors looking to be the next relationship partner for channel businesses must plot their approaches carefully, considering ways of gaining access, emphasizing compelling benefits that will drive consideration, and making the engagement process as straightforward and painless as possible.

Mitel provides free-of-charge sales and product training and specializations to enhance partners’ capability to address customers’ unique business requirements. In addition, Mitel has empowered its global team of sales engineers and marketing specialists to advise partners seeking additional support.

“Improving the effectiveness of sales and marketing” has leaped from the eighth-most important business issue in the channel for 2020 to the second-highest ranked concern in 2023. As part of Mitel’s Global Partner Program, Mitel extended marketing services that can accelerate the customer journey by providing digital account-based marketing, data insights, dynamic content, in-country support, and a funding model to support a sustainable marketing engine. This allows partners to act more like consultants rather than just selling and reselling UC systems and ensures customers get total value from their investments in the vendor’s technology.

Sales incentives represent one of the highest vendor channel investment areas. While the key to success is more in execution than strategy, it’s essential to understand the preferences of the partner community when allocating funds across different areas. Mitel’s Global Partner Program enables partners to earn points and accreditation. Partners are compensated with discounts and rewards depending on the point level they reach — Silver, Gold, or Platinum. The Mitel MiExclusive Global Partner Program benefit is available to Mitel Platinum, Gold, and Silver partners within the US and Canada that exclusively advertise, promote, position, and sell Mitel UC products and solutions. As per Techaisle’s data, 49% of partners demand a simplified partner portal. Mitel has been listening. Mitel’s partners can stay on top of their progress and overall sales and renewals performance through Partner Performance Dashboards available on the Mitel partner portal.

Change is constant in the technology industry. Faced with an expanded buyer community and requirements for specialized skills to support different solutions, the channel is beginning to segment by focus area. Historically, channel partners have tended to concentrate on a limited number of core platforms—typically, those they have invested in via certifications—and look for opportunities to build around these platforms wherever they engage. However, Techaisle believes that the current market is rewarding channel partners that deliver flexible solutions that align directly with current customer business needs, capitalizing on technologies that may be uniquely suited to a specific requirement and relying on APIs and standards as the basis for the integration of multi-vendor solutions. This is where Mitel’s CloudLink technology helps partners to enable and empower architecture that extends Mitel’s on-site and hybrid communications portfolio. The cloud-native technology uses infrastructure as code for scalability, effectiveness for deployment, and reliability. It also brings application support, flexibility, and customization options.

Recognizing the importance of partners and the need to build and nurture high-performance partner networks, Mitel is committed to improving the partner experience and is investing in understanding the challenges faced by its partners and the sales and marketing investments that partners are making to adapt to the changing market. As a result, Mitel is building the programs and practices that resonate most with partners and the coverage options available to partners of different types of solutions. In addition, Mitel works with select technology partners to complement its portfolio in specific verticals, such as healthcare, hospitality, education, and financial services.

Tino Cafaro owns a 60-person innovative telecom solutions provider, the-Company.de, in Germany. A successful Mitel partner for 25 years, he values Mitel’s focus on customer success and partner intimacy. Above all, being a smaller-sized partner in revenue, he appreciates the access to Mitel’s account manager, German, and European leadership teams, including Thomas Veit, Vice President of Central Europe at Mitel, and Martin Bitzinger, Senior Vice President, Product Management at Mitel. According to Cafaro, “Mitel is reliable and articulate with its roadmap and vision, reinforced by direct personal contact with company decision-makers, accelerating the time to decision and speed of response to customers. In addition, Mitel has longevity and is decisive.”

TCOconnect.de is a subsidiary of the-Company.de, delivering intelligent communication solutions. The company has built its own solution TCOconnect on Mitel’s technology. However, another subsidiary, TCOrobotics.de, has integrated Mitel technology with its robots, especially PuduBot, for the healthcare and hospitality verticals.

The above is an excellent example of how the channel delivers innovation-focused solutions to help customers expand their focus to “the art of the possible.” Techaisle research shows that innovation-focused partners can proactively explore new technologies and educate their customers on the potential benefits of adopting the technology and related business task or process changes. They, in short, become navigators plotting customers’ communication modernization strategies. Therefore, it is crucial to keep innovative offerings on the strategy radar as channel firms plan for viability into the next decade. Mitel intends to do just that.

Both Mitel partners in EMEA that Techaisle spoke to emphasized the importance of Mitel’s longevity and consistency. The same sentiment was echoed by Jim Rabbitt, Managing Partner, Partners Technology, a Mitel Gold Partner in the United States. He explained to Techaisle: “Longevity in the market is vital in the customer’s decision-making process. Having 50-plus years of experience helps show prospects & customer longevity in the market and makes it easier to sell to discerning prospects and customers in this market. In addition, having on-premises and cloud options allows us to determine the customer’s needs, then sell what they need.”

Rabbitt’s recommendation for other partners? “Work with the leaders in the market. Mitel offers both cloud and on-premises solutions. Not many companies have both in their toolbox.”

The partners want Mitel to increase their involvement and collaboration in the company’s road map planning and development of products and services. Another suggested improvement is working with partners to determine the most effective market-led promotions.

Final Techaisle Take

What’s unique to Mitel is its Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) approach to UC, which ensures that customers have a full spectrum of options, and empowers partners to sell the right solution to the right customer at the right time. CLM is key to the selection process of UC solutions because it guides organizations in choosing an appropriate stack based on their needs and maturity. In addition, Mitel partners play a critical role in customer lifecycle management success as they deeply understand the market and have a close relationship with customers. Therefore, Mitel works collaboratively with value-added reseller partners, providing them with actionable end-customer data and analytics that enable these partners to engage with their customers on modernization efforts that benefit their specific lifecycle management journey.

Another element of Mitel’s CLM strategy is providing partner programs that reward both partners and end customers. Mitel’s customer lifecycle engagement focuses on software assurance (SWA) renewals; retention efforts; and supporting customers in their technology modernization initiatives, including ensuring organizations leverage the latest releases and features to guide their migration to cloud or subscription offerings.

Techaisle’s data shows that technology complexity creates friction in customers’ businesses and that partners can guide them toward a zero-friction future. Partners are the beacons that customers are looking for – partners who listen, share vision, advise and are responsive. Vendor partnership approaches, however well-intentioned, often end with the channel partner being positioned as a vendor sales agent. The channel’s role—and its most significant opportunity—lies in focusing on buyer needs, which requires that the channel partner plot a path aligned with buyer strategies rather than vendor products. The strategy must be customer-in rather than product-out. These align very well with what I am seeing in the market where Mitel partners, with assistance from Mitel, effectively transform themselves to be the student of the customer’s business.

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