Resellers targeted in Pacific net

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Melbourne ISP Pacific Internet has revamped its channel strategy to reflect a tighter focus on midsize to large system integrators that can net bigger deals.

Dennis Muscat, managing director at Pacific Internet Australia, said the ISP would divide its channel into dealer and partner programs, with the latter consisting of the usual gold, silver and bronze designations.

Previously, Pacific Internet in Australia had 'one big net' covering all 280 channel partners, Muscat said.

'We need to be closer to the big system integrators, partnering with them rather than being commodity providers. So, we asked how we could work together with system integrators that take us into larger opportunities,' Muscat said.

Bigger companies - and government departments - were more likely to seek multi-site and more complex deals, he said.

According to Muscat, the dealer program would mainly target resellers with a small volume of sales. Currently that meant the vast bulk of Pacific Internet's channel partners.

'Anyone who wants to partner Pacific Internet, we've been quite happy to take them and they contribute quite a good deal of our revenue. For instance, our broadband connections - about one in three of them came through the channel,' he said.

Muscat said that restructuring the partner strategy had meant designating six staff to look after partner accounts and appointing a channel head, Armand Hoitink, with a view to ramping the headcount up to 10 in six to nine months.

Current partners would begin as silvers, but be re-assessed over the coming six months. Those interested in increasing their involvement with Pacific Internet above several transactions a month would be funnelled into the partner program, while those with fewer than that would go into the flat-structure dealer program, he said.

'We're starting them all on the same level ... We have a lot of partners who were doing a small number of transactions - say, one or two a month. We didn't want to shut them out and say 'you're not big enough fish' because we're a small fish ourselves,' Muscat said.

Designations would be 'fundamentally' about volume, with the highest dollar-volume partners earning higher commissions. Previously, Pacific Internet had paid a flat rate commission of around 10 percent, he said.

Pacific Internet had also introduced a certain amount of automation into the partner program 'to get some sort of process into it', Muscat said. 'We are looking to automate the commission payments of the channel partners.'

He said that the automated system meant partners would get paid in 14 to 21 days rather than several months as was often the case.

The company's strength was that it did not insist on customers buying Pacific Internet-branded products but promised to seek out the deals the end users requested from a number of vendors, Muscat said.

'Some in this industry do everything in their power to sell their own infrastructure,' he said. 'I think there's room for an ISP to look at various suppliers and if a customer needs a higher grade of service, we'll refer them to a premium service or if they are after a more run-of-the-mill service without SLAs, we'll direct them to that.'

Pacific Internet would continue to fish for new partners as the program progressed, Muscat said.


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