Nectar Channel Leader Talks Training, International Strategy

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  June 01, 2016

Nectar (News - Alert) provides monitoring and diagnostics software solution for unified communication services so IT and operation organizations can ensure a positive end user experience. Nectar’s flagship offering, the Unified Communications Management Platform, allows for that by improving visibility across integrated voice, video and data application solutions. The company’s solution is used for monitoring and diagnostics related to millions of enterprise endpoints for more than 1,200 enterprises in over 86 countries, including some of the largest global banking, health care, manufacturing, search engine, and service provider organizations in the world.

INTERNET TELEPHONY recently interviewed Matt Christopher, vice president of customer experience at Nectar, which brings its offerings to market exclusively via the channel. Christopher is a 16-year veteran in the channel. His experience in the channel began in 2000 when Expanets purchased the GEM division of Lucent. When Avaya purchased Expanets in 2003, he took a role supporting large service providers for Avaya. He then spent three years at Nortel (News - Alert) in a sales and sales overlay model. Then he worked at Microsoft, where his role included developing and building the channel partner ecosystem for Microsoft Lync voice.

Who are Nectar’s customers?

Traditionally, Nectar has had two categories of customers. Our primary market is managed service providers wanting to supplement their services portfolios with extended advanced UC network monitoring, management, and diagnostics software solutions powered by Nectar. Some large enterprise customers choose to maintain their own UC environment and purchase Nectar through a VAR, leveraging the capabilities internally. In the past 12 to 18 months, we have seen a growing market for partners offering hosted UC solutions who want to use Nectar to optimize the reliability of their offer with our advanced UC network monitoring, management, and diagnostics software solutions as well as VARs looking to upgrade their portfolios to offer hosted solutions.

How many channel partners does Nectar have and what kind of entities are they?

We have 85 partners worldwide in all of the major geographies. Most of Nectar’s channel partners are the leading managed service providers for their respective manufacturers. Most of Avaya’s (News - Alert) largest partners leverage Nectar in their managed services offers and resell to large self-maintaining customers. Nearly half of Microsoft’s largest global voice partners, including Avanade, are Nectar channel partners. Our recent focus on Cisco (News - Alert) has helped us add another set of partners to the Nectar fold, including Presidio. Nectar’s multi-platform capabilities allow MSPs that support multiple manufacturers like ConvergeOne, SPS, Carousel, Continuant, and Dimension Data to offer a comprehensive solution to their clients.

What do you look for in a channel partner?

The UC market is complex. Partners need to understand voice, data, and applications. We look for partners with market credibility in all of these areas. Nectar focuses on partners who are leaders within the context of our target UC platforms (Avaya, Microsoft, and Cisco). Finally, partners need to have a compelling managed service or hosted offer that can benefit from being powered by Nectar, and the ideal partners can easily articulate their value proposition and how it is enhanced by Nectar.

What do you provide your channel partners in the way of training?

Nectar is currently enhancing our channel partner training program. Our goal is to develop a series of web-based classes, pre-recorded videos, online content, and documentation that empowers our partners to install, support, and use Nectar. Our content will be packaged in smaller chaptered chunks of content that help answer specific questions or scenarios. Training will span the entire sales life cycle from effectively messaging a service offering powered by Nectar, to implementing Nectar at a customer site and finally, how to actually use Nectar to identify and resolve issues in the customer’s UC deployment.

What are some of the key mistakes companies make in terms of channel partner training?

One of the key mistakes in many channel partner training programs is assuming the partner knows as much as the manufacturer. Channel partner training often has a lot of insider language and assumptions that people have a deeper working knowledge of the solution than they actually do. Moreover, channel partner training is more on the what and not on the how or why. When channel partner training consists only of demonstrations of the product, channel partners walk away with no practical knowledge of how to use the product. Finally, many channel partner training programs do not offer supplemental resources. Effective channel partner training programs include playbook resources partners can quickly and easily locate to help them address a variety of scenarios they may encounter.

How are your Skype (News - Alert) for Business-related offerings selling?

Our Skype for Business-related offerings are growing momentum. As adoption of Skype for Business grows, more and more companies are realizing the need for MSPs to help them effectively manage their deployment. Nectar’s inclusion as an inaugural member of the IT Pro Tools program has validated our solution for enterprise customers and MSPs alike. Our multiplatform support provides a unique value proposition to customers who are migrating to Skype for Business. With Nectar, MSPs can support their users on both legacy platforms and those that have migrated to Skype for Business. With Nectar, customers have MSPs that will be with them throughout the entire transition, bringing consistency in relationship and pricing.

Tell us about Nectar's business operations and strategy outside of the U.S.

Nectar recently expanded its global footprint beyond North America and Europe into the Latin America and Asia Pacific markets. In each of these markets, Nectar has established a localized partner program.  Our global reach is further augmented by the onboarding of global partners like Avanade and Dimension Data. 

How is Nectar employing the channel abroad?

As in North America, Nectar is leveraging the channel to scale. We are identifying key markets and targeting the leading partners for our key platforms in each of these markets. We are also leveraging the footprint of some of our global partners to reach targeted markets. In Latin America and Japan, we are leveraging a distributor to help further build scale.

How is that channel strategy different than your channel strategy here in North America?

North America is a large, fairly homogeneous market that is easy to cover with a few resources. Other geographies, like Asia, Europe, and Latin America are more fragmented, and often each country has its own portfolio of partners. We use a mixture of a strategic targeted approach and distributors to reach these markets.

Edited by Maurice Nagle