In an effort to get more feet on the street, Storagetek has hatched a virtual TeleWeb centre in Saint John, N.B. that will help partners sell into the low-end storage market.

The centre opens with 84 full-time employees covering all 28 territories in the U.S. and Canada. The program has been

in pilot mode since July 2002.

“”It gets us a lot more coverage in a traditional area of the marketplace where we weren’t overly conscious of or did not have a good presence,”” says Mike Hassler, Storagetek’s director of TeleWeb, North America.

The top one-third of Storagetek’s business is the larger accounts, Hassler says, where the company has been very strong. But Storagetek lacks a significant presence in the lower end and opened the centre to augment the work being done by the traditional sales force in the U.S. and Canada, he says.

“”We had a strong coverage model inside of our larger, major accounts, but felt we needed to bolster the activities of more of the broader-based marketplace where our channels and partners play.”” Under the plan, the company is pitching a team-based selling model where the TeleWeb inside account executives are partnered with traditional territory executives in the field. “”The ratio is four to one. We wanted to execute a very aggressive coverage strategy so that we could get mind share with the marketplace and uncover incremental opportunities.”” The program will help VARs meet their quotas and goals that Storagetek has set for them much quicker, he says, indicating the company works with about 300 active resellers and VADs throughout North America.

And why Saint John? According to Hassler, the location is ideal thanks to the beefy investments made by the Maritime governments 15 years ago in the infrastructure around telecom and technology. Another key factor is the highly education population.

“”There’s a very large number of post secondary institutions in Atlantic Canada, so we can draw upon a great renewable resource of well-education, highly motivated individuals coming out of the universities, who would have gone to the States or another larger city in the past, but now have an opportunity of a good career.””

And while locations in the States were considered (although the details were not disclosed), the decision to set up shop in Canada has its benefits, he adds. “”We felt that at the end of the day, all things being equal, we had a much better infrastructure and as well, if not better educated, more motivated workforce to pull from.””

The TeleWeb centre follows in the footsteps of other channel initiatives, including the Total Channel Program and the Global Services program.

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