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Wed 27 Feb 2008 02:21 PM

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Nortel goes to work on improving channel support

Lead generation program, technical boot camps and expanded sales engineering support to boost Nortel's regional presence

Networking vendor Nortel is planning a series of moves to improve the level of support offered to its partners in the Middle East region. The company is presently embarking on a push to drive sales through the channel, with a particular emphasis on ramping up its coverage in the SMB sector in a bid to maintain the strong rate of growth it claims to have achieved in the Middle East throughout the past year.

Following an analysis by the vendor's regional channel team of where the company needs to invest, Nortel is set to roll out its first ever lead generation programme for regional partners.

The networking firm recently hired the services of UAE-based marketing consultants DataDirect, which have developed a system to identify prospective Nortel clients that can be referred to partners as sales leads.

The vendor has already begun tracking the leads and extending them to channel partners with a view to the programme officially going live at the beginning of March. "We have had a reactive lead generation campaign in the past, but not a proactive one," explained Amanulla Khan, Middle East distribution manager at Nortel. "This is very proactive; we are going out and getting those leads generated for partners," he said.

Khan also says the lead generation system will not be confined to the UAE. "We have started with the UAE, but we are in discussions to have local language call centres in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Egypt. Once these areas are covered we will move into Oman, Bahrain and Qatar," he commented.

Nortel will work with DataDirect to vet the leads and pass them onto authorised channel partners within the region. According to Khan, the vendor will evaluate a number of different factors before deciding where to administer each lead. This includes the complexity of the solution and the reseller's expertise and proximity to the customer. It will also take into account the level of investment that the partner does with Nortel.

In addition to rolling out the lead generation system, Nortel has pledged to run a minimum 45 days of instructor-led technical ‘boot camps' this year, ensuring local partners are fully briefed and trained on the latest product and sales developments.

Nortel, which uses its own Knowledge Services arm and UAE-based Synergy Professional Services to provide reseller training, also intends to deliver eight refresher programmes for professionals that have already completed a Nortel boot camp and want to top up their skills.

Meanwhile, Khan says Nortel - which works with distributors such as Aptec and Online Distribution in the Middle East - is close to strengthening its SMB channel team by appointing a sales engineering chief to specifically look after accredited resellers in the Egyptian and Saudi markets.

The addition of another sales engineer will allow current incumbent Sumedh Ganpate to focus more on the Gulf region rather than covering the entire Middle East. An extra sales executive is also being drafted in to target new resellers in areas where Nortel is under-represented.

Khan insists the new recruit will be on board by the beginning of March, and will be pitched straight into the job of locating new partners in the region. "His job will be to focus on areas where we don't have sufficient reach in the market," explained Khan. "This includes focusing on Lebanon and Jordan, as well as trying to get more resellers in markets such as Abu Dhabi and other less-focused territories. He'll then get them trained and certified and manage the reseller base and programmes," he added.

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