Mark Carrel -

Resellers overcoming resistance to agent model

Avaya has seen its channel partners change their position on the master agent model as the vendor has led more of them through the process

The “master agent” model is well-established in the US, although it has taken some time to become an option in the UK, but that appears to be changing as more resellers begin to understand and accept the approach.

Earlier this week, Nuvias became a master agent for Zoom. Indeed, it has largely been comms players that have been fans of the model, which involves one or two players handling select channel relationships.

Avaya has also been developing the master agent model, and unveiled those that it had signed up to run with its Cloud Office launch – Westcon, ScanSource, Avant and Telarus.

The firm puts 90% of its business in the UK through the channel, and that is not going to change, but there was an acceptance that adding a unified comms as a service (UCaaS) offering would require more agents.

“There was resistance originally from some of our partners and I have always been open about that, but actually they have transformed, and they are onboard. I think they are recognising that times are changing and it’s all about speed,” said Alison Hastings, regional channel director UK&I at Avaya.

“The master agency model enables you to sign up this cloud solution really quickly. In the old days, [you had to] build out infrastructure and train engineers, but things are changing,” she said.

“When we announced this exciting opportunity [with Avaya Cloud Office by RingCentral] there was a view in the market around our existing partners that they weren't so keen on the master agent model. Interestingly, we have now onboarded a lot of our existing channels [to sell the cloud office product] to expand the public cloud offering into their portfolios. We have huge uptake from the existing partner ecosystem – we have already signed up 1,700 agents.

“We are now able to access all flavours of resellers, channels and agents. Our existing channel community is king, but we are now able to access some of the born-in-the-cloud resellers, IT resellers and even BPOs [business process outsourcers] that we weren’t able to access prior,” she said.

Avaya has made the process to become a master agent easy for partners, with online sign-up, fees for every new customer introduced and an upfront payment along with recurring revenue, without the need to invest in infrastructure and resources.

Steve Joyner, managing director UK&I at Avaya, said the benefits went beyond just the speed of access to the technology.

“The traditional partners and those agents are starting to see the value of the economics. They are able to drive bottom line numbers much quicker than they were in the traditional on-prem arrangement,” he added. “They have also come to realise that this doesn’t inhibit their ability to add extra services and value.

“We have certainly seen a lot of partners in the last six months have a seismic shift in their appreciation for how this can work for them, their customers and ourselves and RingCentral,” he said.

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