CRN Exclusive: Telecom Service Provider Nitel Shares Game Plan For Channel Growth, New Resources For Partners

Nitel is on a channel tear. The telecom service provider has been overhauling its channel strategy, and wants VARs, MSPs and telecom agents to know it is open for business.

Jason Dishon, Nitel's executive vice president of sales and marketing, who joined the company in April from Windstream, has been busy rearchitecting Nitel's channel strategy by adding and promoting existing resources for partners, revamping the messaging around Nitel's flagship WAN offerings, and bringing in new channel hires.

"I've spent the last couple months digging into the back-office and sales teams and developing a plan to go forward. It's important for us to expand our partnerships that are already out there, [and] expand our partner base across the country," Dishon said.

[Related: Telecom Service Provider Nitel Unveils SD-WAN, SD-Security Services For Partners As Provider 'Doubles Down' On Indirect Sales Efforts]

Revamping channel efforts starts with understanding its existing partner base of telecom agents, master agents, VARs and MSPs, he said.

"Building a plan around each individual partner is really important to us … as is re-educating and giving them the tools and resources to grow," Dishon said.

Lauren Shapiro, president of master agent PlanetOne Communications, a Nitel partner, said that Dishon understands that partners are different and engages with them to learn about their characteristics, their culture and what they need from their suppliers.

"Dishon is building an organization that is close to the selling partner and their end customers, so we are very excited about that," Shapiro said.

As part of its channel push, Nitel is automating commissions management for partners through RPM Telco, an online tool that will be formally unveiled Monday, Dishon told CRN exclusively. The tool, RPM Telco, gives partners real-time visibility and access to their Nitel commission data and analytics.

Nitel partners can use the online tool to reconcile payments within minutes, as well as build out custom commissions reports. The software’s analytics can also be integrated with partners’ own accounting software, according to Nitel.

"A lot of our partners are using RPM and it's an easy tool to understand, so it gives partners an easy-to-use portal," Dishon said.

Nitel also is rolling out an SD-WAN training program for its partners next month, highlighting the importance of this emerging technology for Nitel and its channel partners.

"A lot of partners are still learning about SD-WAN, and it's important for us to educate, but that education will combine Nitel's vision and road map around SD-WAN," he said.

In addition to tools and education, Dishon said he plans to bring on 10 to 14 new geographically distributed channel managers to help support existing partners and recruit new partners across the West Coast, Midwest and Northeast. Nitel is also on the hunt for three new regional vice presidents in the West, Central region and East Coast. 

Nitel Thursday also said it hired Taylor Castranova as vice president of channel sales and account development. Like Dishon, Castranova comes to Nitel from Windstream, having most recently served as vice president of channel account management. Castranova has more than a decade of experience in channel sales. In her new role, Dishon tasked Castranova with running channel sales and building out an account development team, something Nitel didn't have before, Dishon added.

PlanetOne's Shapiro called Castranova's hire a "fabulous move." Improving account management and the post-sales experience will encourage partners to work with Nitel on new opportunities down the road, she said.  

While it's bringing on new channel managers, Nitel also wants to significantly boost its number of MSP and VAR partners in particular.

"We'd like to bring in another 20 [percent to] 30 percent of partners over what we have today," Dishon said.

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