Vodafone: ‘We are set. The tipping point is right now’

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Apple iPhone and OneNet unified comms offer to be available to up to 400 dealers via Vodafone’s VPS in revamped channel

Vodafone will take charge of the UK small business market from O2 with its new dealer and distributor programme, it suggested last week.

Its long-awaited overhaul of its partner scheme, run through Vodafone Partner Services (VPS) in Manchester, will see up to 400 dealers get access to both Apple iPhone products and its OneNet solution.

Enterprise director Peter Kelly said its restructure sets it for growth in the SOHO and SME markets by taking share off rival firms, and by deployment of smartphones, unified communications and security solutions.

Kelly told Mobile News of its drive on OneNet: “We are set. Vodafone is investing and the channel is ready. We are at the tipping point. The tipping point is now.”

Defending its recent record in the dealer market, and explaining the step-up from its old Yes Telecom (VPS) operation, Kelly remarked: “We are not playing catch-up in the market, we are breaking new ground.

“There has not been a comprehensive programme like this in the industry before. It sets a new standard, and will provide the best experience for partners, bar none. It puts clear water between us and our competition.”

Vodafone has axed more than  100 dealers in recent months to select just 23 (click here) for its elite ‘platinum’ tier, as well as around 75 for ‘gold’ membership and 300 for its ‘silver’ tier. Platinum and gold partners have been tied to tough three-year deals around performance, investment and growth; silver dealers are on one-year contract terms.

Distributors Anglia Telecom and Fone Logistics and service providers including Alternative Networks will be reorganised through VPS next quarter.

Kelly said: “We’ve been investing heavily to win business, and month-on-month and quarter-on-quarter we have been winning in the market (click here). A big part of that growth has come from the dealer channel.

“In parallel, we have recognised this is a big and complex organisation that has needed to improve the way it works with partners. This tiered model is the result, and it represents a step-change in growth.”

The restructure sees Vodafone set down performance targets to its revised dealer base for volume, value, service, skill and capability. Kelly made clear the programme is fluid. Performance reviews will see partners promoted and relegated between tiers each six months.

Vodafone wants partners to invest in training to gain accreditations for sale of the iPhone, OneNet, Microsoft products and capability around secure and remote access.

Entry to the eilte tier depends upon these criteria. It has also put down more rigorous checks for dealers to be able to carry the Vodafone brand.

In turn, partners will get swift and accurate commission remuneration “according to their managed bases”. Revenue share is being worked on a case-by-case basis. Vodafone will aid business investment for a “journey of capability, skill and growth”.

VPS represents a dedicated partner resource of 250 staff, with named account managers for each and a single partner portal for access to materials and information. As well VPS will house a lead generation team, until now a direct-selling resource only, to supply Vodafone’s base with new prospects.

Also, dealers will get access to Vodafone’s sundry marketing functions, including its sponsorship of the McLaren Formula 1 team, its VIP entertainment and arts loyalty project and its new Experience Centre in Newbury for showcasing services to major pospects.

Vodafone chief executive Guy Laurence addressed an audience of platinum partners last week: “You are the DNA of our business. I fundamentally believe in our relationship with indirects.”

Kelly said: “This is a more structure and disciplined programme. It is about speed to market, and recognising the indirect channel is crucial to our growth strategy.”

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