3Com has launched its Focus partner program in Asia-Pacific and introduced new specialisations and online tools to help improve channel relationships.
The networking vendor is now offering partner specialisations in IP telephony and SMB to sit alongside its enterprise LAN, security, wireless and service competence practices. Those partners wanting a specialisation stamp need to complete free online sales and technical training and will be measured on their business plan and profile. In return, they gain access to tiered rewards and rebates to offset training, increase margins and invest in marketing. Specialisation holders will also gain higher rankings in 3Com's partner locator tool.
"The idea behind our specialisations is to allow partners to create a path on how much and when they want to invest with 3Com," vice-president of global channel sales, Nick Tidd, said. "We're offering partners the ability to participate in a multitude of programs, as we recognise they can't be experts in all trades.
"Revenue is the lowest common denominator in our program. If a partner is investing in sales and technical skills, the revenue will be realised by the direct impact of that training. So our rewards are geared towards the transfer of knowledge."
The specialisations are being supported by a new online resource centre, which features details about a partner's status, training and skills and marketing development funds.
Tidd said it was also sharing internal pipeline information about local demand generation with partners.
He said it was important to recognise the trusted advisor role SMB partners held with SMB customers. As a result, 3Com's SMB specialisation training will concentrate on solutions selling. The IP telephony partner specialisation, meanwhile, is based around the vendor's VCX and NBX IP telephony platforms and Convergence applications.
"The voice market is moving from hardware telephony to applications. The challenge with traditional voice resellers is getting them to think about applications and performance," Tidd said. "The competition two years from now will be different to what it is today - it'll be Microsoft, SAP and Oracle."
3Com is also planning to create a bigger sales team in Australia to support its broader channel base, giving account managers more time to work with strategic partners. Tidd expected the changes would come quickly into effect once Bain's acquisition of 3Com was completed in the new year.
"We know we need to put more feet on the street in Australia, that we need to work on branding and on technical support," he said. "Once the deal [with Bain] is done, you'll see us making strategic investments in this region."
Tidd said more specialisations were also on the cards, with application enablement topping the list. 3Com will also work on building up its SMB specialisation and demand generation programs.