UPDATED: Telstra's revamped partner program flags new channel play

UPDATED: Telstra's revamped partner program flags new channel play

Needs partners who are willing to challenge the way customers think and work.

Telstra director of business and enterprise specialist partners, Keith Masterton

Telstra director of business and enterprise specialist partners, Keith Masterton

Telstra Business is carving out a new channel play in Australia, according to its acting executive director, of customer solutions, Keith Masterton.

Simple in delivery, but hard-hitting in its impact, Masterton said the company needs partners who are willing to challenge the way customers think and work.

“We’re looking for innovative partners who will add value on top of our solution set,” says Masterton, speaking to ARN following the introduction of a new tiered partnering structure for Australian partners.

“Partners also need to put multiple solutions together for our customers.

“Finally, we are looking for partners with key specialisations such as security, cloud delivered CRM solutions, cloud applications, commerce and workforce mobility.”

For Masterton, fresh from finalising a review of Telstra’s partner program in November 2015, the introduction of a new tiered structure including silver, gold and platinum levels of accreditation highlights a change in approach for the telco.

“We’re in the midst of a three-year transformation of the channel,” Masterton said. “It is about a need to create the indirect channel that will enable us to achieve our 2020 strategy.

“A robust partner accreditation program enables us to identify partner capabilities and past performance history to best match new solution and services opportunities.

“The program comprises four solution domains – these are Mobility, Data & MNS, Collaboration and Cloud and four tier levels. These are Approved, Silver, Gold and Platinum.”

Masterton said the framework has two steps - first partners need to certify staff in solutions with Telstra and vendor certifications, across the four solution domains and then meet sales and customer advocacy hurdles to achieve their tier.

“The benefits to partners of reaching higher accreditation tiers will be more sales opportunities, engagement and remuneration,” Masterton added.

“Partner staff are currently going through the assessment stage for certification and tiers will be awarded and effective from July 1."

Partner Progress

Over the past year, Masterton said Telstra has made ground area across five core areas of the business, citing changes in remuneration, partner services, accreditation, resource allocation and channel equivalence.

“We’ve changed our remuneration to align commissions with our strategic solutions and value. Plus we’ve released a new capability to enable partner services more fully through our partner portal and will continue to develop this stream.

“With regards to accreditation, we’ve built and launched our initial accreditation program which will be expanded in FY17.

"For resource allocation, we’ve restructured to allocate resource where it’s needed to support partners better and deliver on our change programs. And for channel equivalence, we now design all our products and services to be partner enabled from the start,” he said.

In reflecting on the progress made during the past 12 months, Masterton said the changes reflect a changing dynamic in the channel because five years ago, partners were focused on traditional telco products - around voice, mobile data and distribution.

"The business model was more about volume than value. Today’s partners are capable across multiple solution sets and in integrating them. They solve for business problems and innovate with customers. Increasingly they focus above the solution layer on managed and professional services,” he added.

This article was updated at 9:59am - Monday April 11.

Additional reporting by James Henderson.

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