TMC and INTERNET TELEPHONY are proud to announce the winners of our newly established Channel Awards. As part of this effort, a variety of equipment and services providers were invited to submit applications for the awards. Those applications were then reviewed and analyzed by TMC staff in collaboration with INTERNET TELEPHONY columnist and channel expert Peter Radizeski of RAD-INFO Inc.
Here are TMC’s Channel Awards winners for 2014.
There seems to be little doubt that LiveOps is a unique company both in terms of its offerings and in the professionalism that runs across the organization. From our experience, the folks at LiveOps are all consistently on-message.
LiveOps provides cloud-based contact center and customer service solutions to more than 350 companies worldwide. The company also has been a leader in the WebRTC space, around which it has partnered with other notables, Google and Twilio.
“When we partnered with Twilio last year, our vision was to create a ‘complete agent desktop in a box’ – something that any organization could instantly deploy to replace the clunky combination of traditional agent software, computers, and desktop phones,” LiveOps President and CEO Marty Beard said in announcing the Google partnership in June. “With LiveOps and Twilio CX for Chrome, we are once again transforming customer service by eliminating the last hardware barriers that exist in contact centers – namely a telephony infrastructure requiring traditional carrier circuits, phone systems, expensive desktop computers and real estate costs associated with housing on-premises technology and on-site agents. Now contact centers can finally hang up their physical phones for good and improve agent productivity with a single desktop for all communications.”
Being able to differentiate your product in the marketplace is key for channel partners, and in this area LiveOps certainly delivers.
As for the LiveOps channel partner effort specifically, it’s a worldwide program with a compensation schedule featuring a multi-tiered compensation package with discounts starting at 15 percent, and increasing rapidly as MRR increases. Although the program is less than two years old, LiveOps notes that it is staffed by leadership who understands the channel. That includes Karl Gustafson, senior vice president of agent services, who managed marketing and sales teams for Apple, and Vasili Triant, senior vice president of cloud application sales, who came to LiveOps from ShoreTel.
The program, LiveOps says, is also unique in the flexibility it offers partners.
“LiveOps is flexible with its service provider channel program to allow the partner to brand, market, and sell the product as if it was their own,” according to the LiveOps application. “This allows service provider partners the ability to modify the LiveOps product to suit their specific needs. LiveOps will then help articulate their message, provide web-based quoting, and create a microsite that has the LiveOps platform embedded within. LiveOps even has the ability to update the site and social media accounts on behalf of the partner.”
Runner Up: Calabrio
Another TMC Channel Awards applicant in the contact center space is Calabrio.
In 2007, when Calabrio was established as an independent company, its partner program was launched to enable the company to reach new markets, grow revenue, and gain market share faster.
“Our partners offer options sure to fit the varied requirements of any contact center, small and large alike,” according to the Calabrio application. “Armed with a deep understanding of our products, our channel partners provide our customers with the experience and expertise they’ve come to expect. Our Partner Program continues to be a mutually beneficial and important sales avenue for Calabrio and our valued partners. In 2013 alone, Calabrio signed 30 new partners, and we’ve added 11 new partners already in 2014.”
The typical Calabrio Channel Partner is a certified Cisco and/or Avaya (News - Alert) partner as well. These partners are large companies well known in the contact center space and focused on using technology to transform the way customers do business.
“Calabrio partners make it easy for companies to deliver faster, smarter, and more agile customer interactions,” the company says. “Our partners have built practices around contact centers that include both hardware and software. The typical Calabrio partner has the pulse of the region and the industries they serve. Like Calabrio, our partners are not afraid to push the envelope and always go the extra mile on behalf of customers.”
Finalist: CSG International
Winner: PanTerra Networks
As INTERNET TELEPHONY reported in its May issue, PanTerra Networks is probably the most innovative unified communications and file sharing cloud-based service provider you’ve never heard of – until now.
PanTerra offers WorldSmart, a comprehensive suite of unified cloud services targeting mid-market enterprises. It delivers a highly secure unified service from the cloud with a wide range of features including SmartBox-Unified File Sharing Virtual Hosted PBX, Digital Fax Mobility Apps and Routing HD Multimedia Conferencing Video, Audio, Web Meeting Unified Messaging, Presence Call Queuing, Recording and Detailed Statistics Simplified Single Bill Service Multi-site Technology Unification Advanced Single, and Multiple Administrator Capabilities. All services are integrated into a single browser-based client as well as iOS and Android mobile clients and an administrative interface.
The company's channel program for WorldSmart, the original sales channel for all PanTerra services, remains a majority of its business.
“We felt unified cloud services were the future of communications, and partners, through their relationships and expertise, were the obvious avenue to reach customers,” according to PanTerra’s application. “Often our services are added to a partner’s existing portfolio, easily allowing them to offer more solutions in the form of cloud communications either as replacement, or [to] augment existing product offerings. Now with SmartBox, PanTerra's file, sync, and share service, partners have an offering with collaboration built in. SmartBox is provided as a complimentary feature-rich free trial offering, that has online ordering and tracking back to partners for future hands-off upgrade revenue potential.”
Partners can leverage viral marketing by offering the free SmartBox version, PanTerra explains, and are automatically credited when customers upgrade their service.
Radizeski of RAD-INFO Inc. says this strategy ingenious and unique in the market.
PanTerra says its partner program also has a lucrative residual payment for all services, bounties for hardware and installation, and quarterly accelerators for performance objectives that multiply residuals into the mid 50 percent. It offers every partner a FastStart program with training and incentives, including bonuses on sales in the first 120 days. It enables partners a complete rebranding of color, name, and packaging and pricing of all PanTerra services. And all PanTerra wholesalers sell, support, and bill their customers, while the company remains their technology and service provider, and tier 3 support.
Runner Up: Voxox
Voxox is another company in the UC space whose channel program is worthy of note.
The company delivers mobile and desktop applications that integrate voice, video, messaging, fax, media sharing, and more. Its suite of business phone solutions include hosted IP PBX, SIP trunking, an array of wholesale services such as high volume SMS, and a new virtual PBX service called Cloud Phone (News - Alert).
“Cloud Phone is a solution that merges the best of the cloud with mobile devices, allowing a small business to have workers found by their customers via the device they rely on most,” as mentioned by TMC CEO President Rich Tehrani in this magazine’s previous issue. “Moreover, the solution is a great way to connect branch offices with CRM systems, as there is no remote software or hardware needed to make this a viable solution.”
Part of what separates the Voxox channel program from the pack is that 50 percent of the provisioning fees it collects are paid to partners, and the fact that it doesn’t require an annual revenue commitment minimum for agent and dealer partners.
Voxox provides 20 percent commissions on core products for all partner sales and up to 25 percent commissions on core products for qualified master agents.
The company, which recently hired a national channel sales manager to lead the charge, also gives channel partners access to a dedicated channel manager, support team, and an instant quote and contract creation tool. And the Voxox channel portal has downloadable marketing materials, sharable social media content, webinars, and information on current promotions.
Winner: Toshiba America Information Systems, Telecom Div.
Loyalty is a word commonly associated with the channel program at Toshiba America Information Systems, Telecom Div. Given that this part of Toshiba sells exclusively through partners, that only makes sense.
“It’s hard to find a more loyal channel program,” says Radizeski of RAD-INFO Inc.
The company established its dealer channel back in 1978. Today it serves 350 partners with more than 700 locations.
“Toshiba is one of the only big players to not compete with its channel,” according to the company’s application. “Toshiba’s migration philosophy of No Customer Gets Left Behind allows dealers to migrate existing Toshiba customers to newer platforms as they become available.”
Toshiba’s platforms, VIPedge, IPedge, and Strata CIX, can be mixed and matched to meet customer needs. The company’s VIPedge cloud-based business telephone offering is available to channel partners and their customers as a standalone or add-on solution for customers’ premises-based systems.
“For on-premises systems, Toshiba dealers buy the systems and mark them up accordingly to include installation, service, maintenance, etc.,” the company explains. “For Toshiba’s National Accounts, the originating and installing dealers receive commission on hardware sales and are also paid for labor costs. For Toshiba’s VIPedge cloud-based business telephone solution, Toshiba subsidizes the cost of the hardware and dealers get paid to do the installation. Dealers are also paid commission on their customers’ monthly recurring revenue.”
Toshiba’s National Accounts Program uses regional dealers to install and maintain the systems, and Toshiba handles the coordination of installations and direct customer billing for all its dealers.
Runner Up: Star2Star
Another company that is recognized for its success in bonding with the channel is Star2Star, which bills itself as a scalable cloud communications solution provider. The company unifies customers’ voice, video, fax, instant messaging, and presence management capabilities.
Having created its channel program at the company’s inception in 2006, Star2Star is another organization that does not sell direct.
“Their channel loves them,” says Radizeski of RAD-INFO Inc., “probably because it’s easy to sell.”
Star2Star says it is determined to provide its partners with any and all support they require to ensure that every deal is closed. To make that happen, the company offers inside sales support from its headquarters in Sarasota, Fla., and via representatives located throughout the United States. The company says it also “offers extensive support throughout the life of the contract, from pre-sales support to ongoing maintenance.
“Star2Star is very flexible in the support we offer, allowing every partner to pick and choose what support they want and need,” the company says. “An example of this flexibility is our implementation services. Star2Star maintains a network of qualified installers who can install a StarSystem anywhere in North America for partners who prefer not to do installs themselves but does not require any partner to use them, which is ideal for those partners who earn substantial income from completing installs themselves.”
The company offers various remuneration options for partners, and is willing to customize partnership payment structures. Star2Star also continues to enhance the program, having recently launched a website giving master agents and resellers access to their commission statements for each deal.
Edited by Maurice Nagle