Security Company Reveals Its Strategy for Keeping Partners Happy

Case Study: Communication and compromise are key to a good partner relationship.

Back in 2000, NuVox Communications in Greenville, S.C., a company that provides business phone service to more than 45,000 customers across the South and Midwest, was looking to add firewall services to its roster of products.

According to Clark Easterling, vice president of product marketing at NuVox, after one failed partnership attempt, NuVox began a successful partnership with Perimeter Internetworking of Milford, Conn., to provide firewall and security services.

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Easterling called it "one of the easiest partnerships Ive ever been associated with. Weve been satisfied since Day One."

Perimeter has approximately 50 channel partnerships that make up 80 percent of its business, according to Mariano Dy-Liacco, senior vice president for channel partner development at Perimeter.

The partnership has normal operational glitches, but problems have been easily resolved because Perimeter is good at communicating, Easterling said. He cited one problem regarding Perimeters closing times, and the key to resolving it was open dialogue.

Perimeter provides help desk support for the firewall services that NuVox sells. At one point, Easterling said, they were getting complaints from Midwest customers because Perimeter was closing down at 5 p.m. EST, leaving the Midwest customers without coverage at the end of their business day.

This was quickly resolved in a meeting where Perimeter agreed to stay open an hour or two longer.

Ultimately, Perimeter helps build its customer base through channel partners such as NuVox, and NuVox gets a set of services that helps enhance its product offerings.

"We gain an additional product set that is needed in the marketplace. If you dont have firewall and enhanced IT services, you have a lot of exposure," Easterling said.

NuVox representatives meet with Perimeter, at a minimum, on a quarterly basis, Easterling said. They discuss sales projections, review different promotions they plan to run and work out how Perimeter will help with those promotions.

For example, in a recent sales launch that had a James Bond theme, Perimeter helped defray the cost of training and promotion for the new offering.

Among the keys to NuVox and Perimeters successful relationship, Easterling said that Perimeter staff have been easy to work with and that the company always meets its commitments.

He said he has had other channel partners that have agreed to pay part of a promotional cost, but collecting on that share involved so much time and effort that, in the long run, it wasnt worth it.

"Perimeter is always in contact with us, and they are providing us with new opportunities with new products," Easterling said.

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