BT Channel Chief Ricky Ricketts has unveiled to Comms Business Magazine readers his transformational changes to channel engagement that are designed to help reseller win more business.
“If you look at where we were at the start of our FY07/08 you will see that we had a model that made neither BT nor our partners very happy,” says Ricketts. “BT channels were set up 11 years ago so that we could achieve greater customer reach, utilise reseller skills and deliver customer choice in terms of where they could buy. Today those three values are still valid. At the same time we had reduced the number of reseller partners from 300 to 30 based purely on revenues generated rather than their fit within our channels. Likewise the BT channel portfolio of the time was too network centric and did not include any of our excellent SME based products.
We therefore needed to transform our channel strategy and base it upon partners that wanted to sell BT branded products and services that were presented to the use on a BT bill. We wanted a performance based culture and recognised the need to introduce IT products and services in to our portfolio.”
Ricketts drew up a five point plan based around BT’s partners, the proposition, portfolio, channel programs and performance.
“The old Gold/Silver/Bronze scheme we had was very inflexible and the previous SSRA strategic services referral agreement proposition model has now been replaced with IPSA – the BT Indirect Partner Sales Agreement.
“We identified nine key areas that made up our channel proposition and discussed these with our existing partners to ensure that BT targeted its resources effectively.”
Rickets describes this process as being similar to a graphics equaliser; some components of his proposition are increased where they needed but where other elements that the partner does not require are identified the slider is pushed down.
With regards to the makeup of the BT partner portfolio Ricketts has made changes here as well.
“Essentially our portfolio used to consist on BT Business Plan. Now we have launched BT One Plan which is an SME focussed bundle of voice, broadband and mobility applications that include BlackBerry and mobile data devices.
Ricketts sees the three key elements of his new channel strategy as being;
1. Having the right partners working with the right part of BT. For example, those partners that he describes as being purely ‘buy/sell’ centric such as Azzurri, are now working closely with BT Wholesale) Ricketts is currently recruiting partners after determining that he needs 30 partners to delivery his strategy. He has 24 in place and five of the 30 will be distributors – all of which, Rocom, DMSL, SAS, GeTech and 3P are also in place.
2. Getting his channel proposition right
3. Utilising a referral only channel portfolio with the right products and partner commissions.
In a converged market place Ricketts says he needs to find partners that can deliver more than voice services.
“Applications and content together with IT hardware and services are very important in providing an overall integrated converged solution for users. ATC Group for example is well placed to play a key role within this new BT channel strategy. We are also working with Microsoft and their resellers to provide joint Microsoft and BT solutions for users.
Ricketts concludes by saying that FY08/09 will be about turning in a great performance. “I want to be having conversations about making customers happy. This new channel strategy has been designed to allow our partners to punch above their weight and win much more new business.”
Comment: A cynic would point out that BT has another channel chief win another channel strategy but I would point to the fact that the market really does change fast so new strategies need to be devised and implemented on a regular basis. By not being a lifelong BT employee (8 years and counting) Ricketts also brings in the experience of having a wider perspective of reseller need.