Jason Dishon, Nitel’s EVP of Sales & Marketing, recently sat down with Craig Galbraith of Channel Partners to discuss Nitel’s Elite Partner program and advancements with SD-WAN. Tune in at the 5:00 min mark to hear Jason’s interview.
Craig: We’re going to talk to you a little bit about the Elite Partner Program you guys just introduced here a couple of months ago. Tell us about the goals for that program.
Jason: We came in as an organization and really wanted to focus on segmenting our Elite Partners and understand who they were, what type of business model they had, and then start looking at distribution across the country with their subagents aligned with our channel partners in the field. We’ve taken a hard look at that over the last few months and just recently rolled out the Elite program under the direction of Chris Shubert who runs our business development. The goal of that program is to grow it. In the last four months, we’ve seen an increase of 67 percent since rollout, or since the changes that we started to make with the Elite partners that we have in the program. I think is a big improvement over last year, and it is really the alignment in distribution and that segmentation with the partners in the field, focus from our channel managers in the field, and our channel managers being in front of those subagents, that is extremely important for us. Our channel managers being able to discuss the SD-WAN solution that we have with Versa, being able to discuss the security line we have, and being able to show them a solutions sale and what that looks like with the Nitel map, really
helps push our revenue.
Craig: And, then you’ve got a lot of the masters on board including PlanetOne, isn’t that right?
Jason: That’s correct. PlanetOne is a large producer for us. We’ve actually seen some improvement with them since the rollout and some of the changes we’ve made. PlanetOne is of course a dominant player in the master agent community and we continue to support them in many ways. And, to that point, one of the big things is we’ve changed with the PlanetOne partnership in how we align with them as well, so changes are continuing.
Craig: You talked about SD-WAN, obviously that’s sort of Nitel’s baby, talk about what’s happening with that the last year or so with the company.
Jason: We did a really big push at the Vegas channel show with discussion points about SD-WAN, and we decided to go with Versa which was a big change from most carriers. That solution mixed in with our WAN opportunity has been huge. Now we’re able to layer broadband with our SD-WAN capability, security line up to UTM – it’s bringing a different type of customer and a different type of solution to the table as we have these conversations. SD-WAN for us is a huge play in the enterprise space and how we want to grow.
Craig: You guys looking at bringing on some more of the masters and big agencies to be part of the Elite Program next year?
Jason: Yes, absolutely we are looking at that now. In fact, we have a meeting next week to discuss some of the 2018 planning.
Craig: You’ll call me right after that?
Jason: As soon as we get that done, you are my first call. We are definitely looking at what we can change next year, how we can incorporate more Elite’s into the program, what kind of support we give those Elite’s, and how we support those Elite’s in the marketing efforts. One of the big challenges we have right now is that it’s just a branding effort. We’re going and really rebranding the Nitel name to all of our partners. That helps us with the Elite partners – getting our name out with the Elite partners, getting us on their newsletters, getting us on their webinars and their announcements that they do. Partnering and marketing events is really big for Nitel and continues to help push our brand. It’s really important.
Craig: Talk a little more about how the program will sort of trickle down to benefit partners beyond the masters.
Jason: We will do some partner and some customer segmentations. What I mean by that is that we will take more of white board solution type settings, and we’ll go in with those subagents to really understand their customer base. We want to help them grow and we want to support them in their marketing efforts. If we understand that subagent at the subagent level, and their customer base, then we can start marketing efforts towards their customers. With that we have also established an account management team. Nitel did not have a true dedicated account management team before this. We’ve hired Nate James who is going to be our VP of Account Management. He is going to be managing a nationwide account management team that will also work with our lead partners and our direct partners, as well to continue to grow their customers. But really important, again, is to sit down and solution sale to our partners. If we can get them to understand security and SD-WAN, plus our network that we have, then it opens the door for more revenue for us on the account management side and the logo side.
Craig: So, Nitel is clearly growing its channel through all this?
Jason: We are very heavy channel, we do not have a direct sales force. Our focus is on the channel. Our channel has grown over 44 percent compared to last year. Now, all of that isn’t due to us coming in and making these changes, but it is coming in and making some small tweaks and some shifts in the way that we manage our partners, and the way that we’re aligned internally as far as support goes.