Channel programs are a highly effective business model – at least when they are properly designed and managed. The fact is, it’s virtually impossible to sales and effective support for every user – especially in the SMB space. In addition, as VARs, integrators, and MSPs all form deeper relationships with their clients through expanded service offerings, they offer vendors a trusted channel with access to those business customers. Those channel partners are already providing valuable services and inevitably have an easier time selling additional services than a vendor without an existing relationship would directly. It’s a win-win scenario.
But, the channel is not like Ron Popeil’s rotisserie – you can’t just set it and forget it. The channel is also not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It must be carefully designed and developed, and continually nurtured, along with your partners, to maximize growth and profitability. Programs must be developed with both the partner and end customer in mind, ensuring customers have access to the support, services, and products they need, and that partners have access to the products, education and training, marketing, support, other resources to drive their success. In addition, listening to and collaborating with partners to improve partner programs can go a long way in growing the channel.
By clearly defining the types of partners vendors are looking for and developing a channel program to support them – often with multiple layers to accommodate different partnership models – and building out those programs to encourage partners’ growth – vendors can put themselves on an upward trajectory towards growth, brand awareness, revenue, and market expansion.
Not all channel programs are the same. Some vendors go above and beyond in building out their programs. With that in mind, the INTERNET TELEPHONY team once again presents its Friend of the Channel Award winners, recognizing a selection of vendors (listed alphabetically) with a variety of product portfolios, some whose channel programs have been around for more than two decades, while others are much newer but have found a level of success relatively quickly.
While these winners represent varying product and service offerings, with different channel programs, what they have in common is a focus on their partner community and a model built to help their partners achieve success. After all, as the channel succeeds, so does the vendor.
Congratulations to the winners!
Channel program established: 2017
Channel Partners: 200 partners
IT Management dba 101VOICE is a recognized and rapidly growing company. IT Management Corp offers a full range of services designed to keep IT networking systems operating smoothly and efficiently. Skilled technology consultants can help guide and assist customers in determining which services are best suited to optimize the performance of systems, covering the full spectrum from basic to advanced, with turn-key custom networking solutions. 101VOICE is HIPAA certified and PCI-compliant.
Why 101VOICE: “101VOICE is big enough to claim its place as a premier national service provider. At the same time, we protect our profile as an agile and flexible service provider, able to take advantage of variations in geographic markets, developments in quickly evolving new technologies, and the changing needs of the channel.”
Channel program established: 2001
Channel Partnerss: 8,000
Founded in 2001, AireSpring is a Managed Services Provider (MSP) specializing in Unified Communications, Managed IT and Network Services. AireSpring provides fully managed and connected end-to-end, next-generation solutions for multi-location enterprise customers worldwide. Services include: Global Managed SD-WAN, AirePBX UCaaS, SIP Trunking, MPLS, Disaster Recovery, Managed Security, and Business Internet. AireSpring’s solutions are offered through a diversified network of channel partners that includes distributors, master agents, MSPs, and value-added resellers (VARs).
Why AireSpring: “AireSpring is 100% channel-focused. AireSpring has crafted the AireSpring Advantage partner program to make it the most channel-friendly program in the industry. Our role is to assist our partners in closing deals. White glove customer service means our channel partners and their customers receive premium support and have access to a variety of management tools to support their delivery of a full suite of services delivered over our geo-redundant network. We provide personalized service with a single point of contact and an escalation list that goes all the way up to our CEO.”
Channel program established: 2008
Channel Partners: 400
AVTECH Software (News - Alert) (AVTECH), a private corporation founded in 1988, is a computer hardware and software developer and manufacturer based in Warren, RI with an international sales office in Dubai, UAE as well as an international distribution facility in Shannon, Ireland. AVTECH’s Room Alert products are made in the USA and proactively monitor critical facilities and assets for conditions such as temperature, humidity, power, flood / water leakage, smoke / fire, air flow, room entry, motion, cameras and more. Room Alert is in use in over 185 countries and can be found in over 80% of the Fortune 1000, most state and federal agencies, and all branches of the US military.
Why AVTECH: “We maintain a direct relationship with all our partners and encourage them to use our channel team as valued resources throughout the process. Many of our partners have let our Channel Manager know that our program is the most open and engaging one they are able to be a part of. Our Room Alert Portal gives each partner the ability to see their installed customers, sales history, and also provides them with a sales CRM that they can use to enter prospect data, follow up notes, reminders, etc. Our proposal tool in the portal also gives each partner multiple choices of carriers to provide lowest cost/fastest delivery options to their location. All partners are provided with heavy discounts on all Room Alert hardware & accessories and they are not required to price their sales in a restrictive manner, allowing them to provide the necessary markup to ensure solid commissions, while not pricing themselves out of a sale.”
Channel program established: 2014
Channel Partners: 800
Broadvoice simplifies communications for SMBs by combining powerful cloud PBX, UC and collaboration features with cloud call center in one UCaaS platform that delivers enterprise-class features at affordable rates. The platform is connected to Broadvoice’s secure, redundant network and hosting infrastructure, enabling SMBs to connect with customers securely anytime, anywhere and with any device.
Why Broadvoice: “Partners rave about our partner support model wherein partners have one-on-one relationships with a dedicated channel manager, partner sales manager and sales engineer. Combined with our consumption models, partners have access to as much or as little support as they need to help close and write business.
Channel program established: 2019
Comm100 is a global provider of digital omnichannel customer engagement solutions that help brands orchestrate their unique blend of human agent, bot and self-serve interactions. Organizations like Rackspace (News - Alert), HomeTrust Bank and Canadian Blood Services use Comm100 to exceed customer expectations with service that closes the gap between question and answer.
Why Comm100: “We want our partners to be as successful and as profitable as possible, so Comm100’s channel program is flexible and high-touch to meet our partners’ unique needs. Each partner we work with has a clearly defined business plan, with well laid out marketing goals, that will drive the sales activity we need. Our marketing programs are not generic, because one size does not fit all. We leverage our partners’ areas of expertise and align to their goals with a plan geared to exceed their expectations with our complimentary technology.”
Channel program established: 2006
Channel Partners: 900
CoreDial is a provider of high-quality and scalable cloud communications, contact center, and video collaboration to more than 32,000 businesses. The company’s solutions are quickly and easily auto-provisioned through its CoreNexa platform, which seamlessly integrates with other essential business applications. For SMBs and larger enterprises, CoreDial offers comprehensive, cost-effective, and future-proof communications solutions customers demand. Backed by a 99.999% SLA and supported locally by 850+ trained partners, CoreNexa is positioned to help businesses unleash the power of the modern workforce.
Why CoreDial: “CoreDial sells its cloud communications program exclusively through the channel, offering white label UCaaS, contact center, video and collaboration services that enable partners to maximize margins, build profitable recurring revenue, and maximize the value of their businesses. Our Partner Success team that works daily with individual partners to ensure they have the appropriate technical training, sales support, marketing resources, and integration capabilities to succeed. CoreDial's business model enables many partners to experience margins exceeding 70 percent, which far surpasses many other cloud communications providers.”
Channel program established: 2020
Channel Partners: 200
Lantronix is a global provider of secure turnkey solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT) and Remote Environment Management (REM), offering Software as a Service (SaaS), connectivity services, engineering services and intelligent hardware. Lantronix enables its customers to provide reliable and secure solutions while accelerating their time to market. With three decades of proven experience in creating robust IoT technologies and OOBM solutions, Lantronix is an innovator in enabling its customers to build new business models, leverage greater efficiencies and realize the possibilities of the Internet of Things.
Why Lantronix: “We are dedicated to our partners’ success – we succeed when they succeed and we will work closely with our partners on planning, training, marketing, sales, and support. Our partner-centric solutions deliver the fastest path to increasing margins and opportunities.”
Chanel program established: 2017
Channel partners: >1,000
NetFortris delivers cloud communications solutions carried over a private nationwide MPLS network, including SD-WAN, Voice and Unified Communications, Network and Data Security, and 4G backup. NetFortris services are managed 24/7 with or on behalf of business customers by an expert network engineering and operations team. The company provides concierge customer advocacy, 24/7 in-house customer support and consolidated billing for multiple services and locations.
Why NetFortris: “Our team – We provide a consultative, partnership approach to every sales opportunity. Every NetFortris agent has access to a dedicated team of sales engineers, account managers, executive contacts and our marketing team. As a channel-first organization, we do not compete with our own agents, allowing them to sell directly to existing NetFortris customers.”
Channel program established: 2010
Channel Partners: 200
Reinvent Telecom, a division of Saddleback Communications, operates a private-label communications platform that empowers its wholesale partners to transform their businesses into next-generation cloud-based communications service providers. Reinvent enables its wholesale partners to deliver reliable, high-quality Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), Conferencing & Collaboration, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) and SIP trunking services. Reinvent’s solutions are all built on the proven platform from Metaswitch and backed by Saddleback Communications, a stable, profitable Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier and a wholly-owned enterprise of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC).
Why Reinvent Telecom: “Ownership, not agency – Reinvent empowers partners to own their customers, selling and billing under their own brand. This is critical in key ways, such as enabling partners to set their own margins, create service packages, bundle in preferred hardware and add on professional/installation/consulting services. This represents an opportunity for them to take hold of their companies’ futures, investing in their own brands and intellectual property (services, processes, etc.) and owning their customer bases, which vastly increases the value of their businesses.”
Channel program established: 1990
Channel Partners: 6,000
Sangoma’s cloud-native solutions include a full suite of as-a-service offerings including: voice, video, persistent chat, meetings, connected worker integrations, trunking, fax, virtual desktops, contact center, access control, and much more. In addition, Sangoma offers a full line of communications products, including premises-based UC systems, a full line of desk phones and headsets, and a complete connectivity suite (gateways/SBCs/telephony cards). Sangoma is also the primary developer and sponsor of Asterisk (News - Alert) and FreePBX, the world’s two most widely used open-source communication software projects.
Why Sangoma: “One of the key benefits of being a Sangoma partner is that partners have access to the best-in-class Unified Communications (UC) options that will provide them with the winning edge on proposals, allowing them to leverage their expertise while giving their customers the tools they need to be successful. Whether they are selling a cloud solution or an on-premises solution, Sangoma will be there for partners, with the same software base. If a customer wants to switch from on-premises to cloud, the interface and behavior will remain the same. In addition to the UC solution itself, Sangoma also offers all of our own UC surround that a customer will need, including SBCs, SIP trunking, phones, gateways, and PSTN cards. This means that solution interoperability is never an issue, and partners can count on Sangoma as their one vendor offering an entire solution set.”
Channel program established: 2014
Channel Partners: >200
UnitedCloud is Canada’s purpose-built 100% channel partner business solution. Trusted by 100s of leading ISPs, MSPs, and Telecom Service Providers for over 8 years, UnitedCloud delivers a coast-to-coast, 4 data center, and geographically redundant network hosting its UCaaS, CCaaS and Cloud Services platform. UnitedCloud serves tens of thousands of business users with a highly profitable mix of Private White-Label and Co-Branded Agent partner-first programs.
Why UnitedCloud: “We are Canada's oldest and leading 100% partner-only UCaaS provider. Our program is complemented by a full partner success team, dedicated partner manager, sales support, technical support, full training (learn at your pace), and fully branded partner marketing materials, email and social media marketing tools, and access to no-charge services for the partner.”
Channel program established: 2018
Channel Partners: >30
UniVoIP is a provider of UCaaS, OmniChannel Contact Center and Direct Routing for Microsoft (News - Alert) Teams solutions with focus on customer satisfaction. UniVoIP serves medium to large enterprises everywhere by leveraging best-of-breed integrated business communications platforms that deliver advanced multimedia contact center functionality, cloud-based collaboration tools, mobility applications, and a suite of advanced IP phones, including mobile integration. Powered by a team with over 40 years of experience together, UniVoIP delivers comprehensive UCaaS solutions to a variety of industries including education, legal, finance, nonprofit, real estate, and healthcare.
Why UniVoIP: “UniVoIP is a channel-centric provider, with a goal to empower channel partners with tools and solutions that will continue to delight their anchor customers and new customers alike. Our 99.75% customer retention rate is attributed to an unwavering dedication in providing white-glove 24/7/365, U.S.-based support and implementation. UniVoIP specializes in providing complex integrations and customizations, which will ensure guaranteed outcomes and allows the UniVoIP Team to tackle difficult tasks exactly matching each customer’s unique needs. UniVoIP prides itself on declaring, ‘If you can white board it, we can do it.’”
Channel program established: 2009
Channel partners: >2000
Windstream (News - Alert) Holdings is a privately held communications and software company. Windstream offers managed communications services, including SD-WAN and UCaaS, and high-capacity bandwidth and transport services to businesses across the U.S. The company also provides premium broadband, entertainment and security services through an enhanced fiber network and 5G fixed wireless service to consumers and SMBs, primarily in rural areas in 18 states.
Why Windstream Enterprise: “In February 2021, Windstream Enterprise (WE) launched the WE will Commitment, pledging to deliver a network and voice solution that provides an unrivaled experience. Outcomes of these Commitments include seamless channel integration and a smoother journey selling Windstream Enterprise products. This promise puts WE at the forefront of industry-leading innovation, delivering opportunities to adopt a resilient, pure-cloud infrastructure on their terms. Along with accredited SD-WAN and UCaaS, WE continues to enhance its award-winning WE Connect Partner portal for full visibility and customized access to network solutions, giving users ultimate control.”
Edited by Erik Linask