Pacific Internet has quadrupled its channel management staff in order to attract more resellers to its broadband internet services.
With a single channel partner program manager on board for the last 15 months, the company has grown from zero to 200 resellers. But with broadband penetration expected to boom in the small business sector in the coming 12 months, three more partner managers have been appointed to liase with the ISP’s channel partners around the country.
Pacific Internet sales manager, Matt Lovegrove, predicted he would need such staff with significant acceleration in broadband adoption expected this year.
“It has really only been in an embryonic stage for the last two years,” he said.
The company is hoping to gain 5-10 per cent of the 70,000 new businesses expected to convert to broadband products in the next 12 months. Resellers made up 30 per cent of sales in Pacific Internet’s 2002. Lovegrove is aiming to lift this number to 40 per cent by the end of 2003.
“We are absolutely committed to recruiting more partners,” he said. “We are still very much on the acquisition trail.”
Lovegrove said that most of Pacific Internet’s partners came on board through recommendation from their peers.
“While we hope that continues, the new channel managers mean we now have the people power to target the partners we would really like to work with,” he said.
Pacific Internet, unlike several of its peers, has chosen a channel model that seeks to embrace a large number of small resellers, as opposed to a small number of large resellers.
“There is a tendency among our competitors to refine themselves to a group of six or twelve super partners,” Lovegrove said. “But we believe that we have built good enough systems that it is easy for a multitude of partners to do business with us.”
Pacific Internet managing director, Dennis Muscat, explained that companies such as NEC’s NEXTEP want to manage fewer partners, as their core business is to be a provider of infrastructure. As Pacific Internet does not own any infrastructure, its model is instead concerned with long term relationships and customer service.
“Our history is in helping smaller resellers,” Lovegrove said. “Our partners tend not to be ISPs. It is more likely that they are system integrators, network integrators or consultants. A small dealer might only bring on 10 or 12 connections but we still treat them as well as we would treat a larger partner.”
Lovegrove said that having a large number of partners puts significant pressure on Pacific Internet’s resources. As well as appointing more channel-focused staff, the company has invested in automation systems that will allow partners and customers a certain degree of self-service.
The systems have been developed to effectively automate the process of a dealer arranging for a customer to subscribe and begin using broadband services.
On a secured site, partners can enter customer details, check that the service is available in the customer’s area, create and print an order form for the customer, keep up to date with the status of the provisioning process, and view reports on their customers and the commission they receive for signing them up.
“These systems take a considerable strain off our staff and our dealers, but dealers can still feel confident that they can call their account manager at any time if they want to talk,” Lovegrove said.
Muscat said the company may modify its plans in the future to drive volume sales among its larger partners.
“We may bring on some larger partners in the future, but it will never be to the detriment of the rest of our partner base,” he said.