AT&T turns to the channel

AT&T Corp. is launching a multi-channel strategy in the Australian market in an attempt to expand its sales reach in the there.

The company previously operated a direct-only model in Australia but is now aiming to have 30 per cent of its revenue coming through the channel within 12 months.

Nicholas Cunningham-Moorat, who recently joined the company from call centre software company Rockwell FirstPoint Contact Ltd., has been appointed as a channel manager to build and maintain long-term partner relationships. He will work alongside sales and marketing director, Brett Barningham, with the duo hoping to have several channel partners on board by the end of the year.

“Our model involves five channel programs that rely on partners interacting with our direct sales force to varying degrees,” Barningham said. “A fundamental principle of the strategy is to minimize direct and indirect conflict. Our sales force will assist channel partners when required and both sided will be noted with a sale.”

The five-pronged channel assault will feature Alliance, Referral, Distribution, Sales Agency and Re-marketer Programs.

Barningham said the Alliance Program would see AT&T building relationships with analysts and other vendors.

Under the Referral Program, its channel partners will be paid a finder’s fee for delivering qualified leads but will not be part of the sales process. Partners allowing AT&T access to their existing channel would be paid either a finder’s fee or sales incentives under the Distribution program.

Barningham said mid-sized integrators or value-added service providers would be targeted with its Sales Agency Program. These companies would receive ongoing monthly commission and continue to own customer relationships but AT&T would provide service delivery and support directly to the customer.

The Re-marketer Program will see larger integrators bundling AT&T services into their own offerings and setting their own margins without the customer being aware that AT&T is involved.

“Many of our partners will have special industry knowledge or niche market expertise while others will simply add AT&T products and services to their existing value proposition,” said Barningham.

The company recorded growth of more than 20 per cent in the Australian market during 2002. Barningham said he hoped the new channel partnerships would help it achieve similar figures for 2003.

It has invested in two new multi-protocol label-switching (MPLS) nodes for Sydney and one each in Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide to support its expansion plans.