“Dealers in our DNA,” says Vodafone chief

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Guy Laurence makes overtures to 23 selected ‘platinum’ dealer partners at Newbury summit to unveil revised indirect programme to attack small business market

Vodafone chief executive Guy Laurence took time to address Vodafone’s top dealer partners for an hour on Monday (September 20) to explain its strategy for the small business market.

Speaking to platinum partners, Laurence said: “The truth is you are the DNA of our business. I fundamentally believe in our relationship with indirects.”

Vodafone has reviewed and handpicked around 400 dealer partners to work with in the UK small office/home office (SOHO) and small-and-medium enterprise market.

Dealers will work through its re-branded Vodafone Partner Services (VPS) unit in Manchester, formerly service provider Yes Telecom, which it purchased in 2006 for £22 million and has run until now as a wholly-owned distribution unit in parallel with its traditional direct dealer operation.

Laurence has been at pains recently to claim the importance of the indirect channel to Vodafone. Lats month, he told Mobile News: “All industrial machines take time to re-orientate. The man hours I have spent reviewing and planning what we are doing for the indirect, it is considerable. There is a perception Vodafone does not care enough about the enterprise indirect channel; but we do. I do. I love that market.”

He said: “It was clear we had inadvertently got several levels of service for enterprise indirect partners, depending on who serviced you. So we have designed a service that has taken the best elements of each of those and we are concentrating it around Yes Telecom.”

Vodafone’s reorganisation of Yes Telecom is arguably the longest-running saga in the dealer community, because it was an early model for the type of sales that operators are requesting from third-parties in the market today and because Vodafone is perceived to have lost ground to O2 in recent years despite it purchase of Yes Telecom.

But Laurence has set about revising the entire UK business since his arrival early last year, and its enterprise unit has been a core focus for his team. Vodafone is looking to break new ground with its ‘One’ family of unified communications solutions, and VPS will be the primary conduit for sales of the OneNet solution for SMEs.

The new terms it has put in place for dealer partners are rigorous and demanding, but Vodafone is offering in return a comprehensive package of marketing support and training, and claims to be ready to invest in its best partners to see them grow their businesses and its associated connections and revenues in the market.

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