Friend of the Channel Award Winners Exhibit Dedication to Their Programs and Partners

By Erik Linask August 22, 2023

The channel is a critical part of the technology ecosystem – perhaps the most important part, in fact.  Of course, there are direct customers that create large revenue streams, but it’s well known that the SMB market constitutes the overwhelming majority of the business market, creating a massive revenue pool for technology providers.  On top of that, larger businesses, too, are starting to see value in the managed services side of the channel, in particular, to help them more effectively manage bigger and more complex IT environments while allowing IT staff to focus on other strategic activities.




Technology providers understand this and have created partner programs to leverage the increased demand for their services.  Many have made their channel programs the focal point of their businesses, and some take a channel-only approach, seeking to perfect their model without complicating things with competing direct sales teams.  

Indeed, well-developed channel programs drive success on several levels:

  • Scale and reach:  Channel partners enable vendors to drive sales reach and scale by expanding into effectively any geographic area without having to dedicate their own local resources.  In addition, businesses often prefer to work with or already have relationships with local IT firms, so working with those local partners can help vendors gain traction much more rapidly.
  • Cost-effective growth:  While channel programs require resources and a clear focus, they don’t necessitate the same investment as setting up offices in different markets.  Through their channel programs, vendors can scale without a proportionate increase in overhead costs.
  • Specialization:  Many IT partners specialize in specific niche markets (e.g., hospitality, retail, healthcare, financial, education, etc.).  While general needs are common across industries, individual verticals also have their own specific requirements.  Partners with vertical expertise give vendors access to these customer bases, while that partner expertise can drive higher satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Flexibility:  Technology needs are constantly changing and, as markets evolve, some channels may underperform while others excel.  A partner model allows vendors to adapt to changing environments to capitalize on the latest trends without significant expense
  • Shared motivation:  Channel partners have a vested interest in selling their portfolios, since their revenue is directly tied to sales.  As such, there is a shared motivation to ensure optional performance, which creates a collaborative environment where vendors and partners support each other, each benefitting from their collective success.  A good product combined with a good channel program creates a common interest in success.

But, it’s not as simple as saying, “We’re going to sell through the channel.”  A successful channel program takes though and investment and ongoing cultivation.  The best channel programs are built on a set of core values that place partner success on a pedestal and are designed specifically to ensure partners’ growth opportunities and, by extension, vendors’ long-term viability.  It can't be a one-sided relationship. 

The 2023 Friend of the Channel Award winners (listed in alphabetical order) represent brands that understand this and have taken measures to drive their programs to success.  Some have longstanding programs, while others are newer, and some are channel-only companies, while others have direct sales teams as well.  But, what they have in common is a desire to see their programs succeed and, as such, they have all invested resources into building their programs.  We congratulate this year’s winners and look forward to seeing their continued success and growth of their programs.

101VOICE

  • Channel program name:  101VOICE Accelerate
  • When program launched:  2017
  • # of channel partners:  180
  • Typical partner profile:  Three models:  Referral Program, Power-Partner program, White-Label program
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Partners appreciate several key aspects that provide significant value and benefits, including competitive commissions and incentives, robust product portfolio, exceptional training and support, marketing and co-branding support, and flexibility and customization.

AireSpring

  • Channel program name:  AireSpring Channel Sales
  • When program launched:  2001
  • # of channel partners:  8,000
  • Typical partner profile:  A diversified network of channel partners, including distributors, TSBs and their trusted advisors, MSPs,  and VARs
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Partners appreciate AireSpring’s customer service as well QuoteSpring, AireSpring’s real-time online quoting tool.  AireSpring participates in many President’s Club programs with TSBs and, on average, send 12 partners on trips yearly.

Broadvoice

  • Channel program name:  Broadvoice Partner Advantage Program
  • When program launched:  2014
  • # of channel partners:  1,000
  • Typical partner profile:  In business for 5+ years, have a strong customer base and are continuing to grow, are consistently selling telecom and cloud services, businesses are based on or leaning toward growing recurring revenue. 
  • Noteworthy aspect:  In addition to sales incentives, creating revenue opportunities and co-marketing, Broadvoice offers a Certified Installer Program that enables partners to train and be certified to take full control of the customer implementation, and a Concierge Program for top partners.

FluentStream

  • Channel program name:  FluentStream Partner Program
  • When program launched:  2019
  • # of channel partners:  72
  • Typical partner profile:  Small to medium-sized MSPs that offers a wide variety of services to their clientele and delivers a high level of customer support, and want to provide a high-quality phone system without the concern of telecom regulatory taxes.
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Key reasons partners have chosen to work with FluentStream include its feature set, network, pricing, and customer support, but the differentiator is its team, which allows partners to build lasting relationships and creates feeling that FluentStream is an extension of the partners own team.

Granite

  • Channel program name:  Granite Channels
  • When program launched:  2004
  • # of channel partners:  1,250
  • Typical partner profile:  Ranges from one-person consultants and agents to value-added resellers (VARs) and MSPs to large TSBs and IT distributors
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Partners appreciate having the full weight of Granite behind them, with a very high customer retention rate and NPS, which are great for both Granite and its partners.

Reinvent Telecom

  • Channel program name:  Reinvent Partner Program
  • When program launched:  2010
  • # of channel partners:  120
  • Typical partner profile:  Long-term partnerships with small and large MSPs that want to provide branded UCaaS and CCaaS solutions to complement their existing offerings and build their businesses while maintaining control their brands and customer relationships.
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Reinvent Telecom partners are able to own their own customers, enjoy high margins, control the customer experience, enjoy zero startup costs, sell technology backed by Metaswitch and Microsoft (News - Alert), develop an MRR business with exit strategy potential, and have access to BYOC options.

Sangoma Technologies

  • Channel program name:  Sangoma (News - Alert) Channel Champions
  • When program launched:  2022
  • # of channel partners:  3,000
  • Typical partner profile:  Reseller Partners include ISPs, VARs), MSPs), and Interconnects; Agent Partners are independent businesses that may also be sub-agents under Sangoma’s TSP companies
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Dedicated marketing and sales support, including project-based marketing plans, which allow Sangoma to be flexible to provide what partners need in order to make their businesses successful.

Spectrum

  • Channel program name:  Spectrum Partner Program
  • When program launched:2008
  • # of channel partners:  6,900
  • Typical partner profile:  telecom sales agent/consultants, managed service providers (MSP), technology services distributors (TSD), value added resellers (VAR), system/network integrators, aggregators, IT distributors and resellers.
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Partners value the dedicated channel managers to support their business and the availability of technical resources and training, as well as different commission models to earn more and a program that supports all types of clients.

Telesystem

  • Channel program name:  Telesystem Partner Program
  • When program launched:  2016
  • # of channel partners:  300
  • Typical partner profile: VARs, Telecom Consultants, and MSPs selling into the SME and mid-market space
  • Noteworthy aspect:  As part of its “It’s About Trust” higher purpose, Telesystem holds its team accountable to being transparent throughout the entire lifecycle of the customer, which contributes to building and maintaining strong relationships with our partners and key customer stakeholders. 

Verint (News - Alert)

  • Channel program name:  Verint Partner Program
  • When program launched:  2001
  • # of channel partners:  1,300
  • Typical partner profile:  Four tiers:  Global Strategic Alliance Partners, Channel Partners, Consultancy Partners (Global and Regional System Integrators), Technology Partners
    Noteworthy aspect:  The Verint Marketplace, featuring hundreds of partner and Verint listings across a broad range of solutions, acts as the building blocks that enable our ecosystem partners to design and expand their own go-to-market offers.

WatchGuard Technologies

  • Channel program name:  WatchGuardONE
  • When program launched:  1993
  • # of channel partners:  17,000
  • Typical partner profile:  IT solution providers (resellers, VARs, consultants, system integrators, MSPs, MSSPs, and varying hybrid models)
  • Noteworthy aspect:  Unlike most vendors, the first barrier to entry into the program is based on technical and sales certifications, not on sales volume so any partner who is willing to engage in training can unlock powerful financial and enablement benefits, no revenue required.

Windstream Enterprise (News - Alert)

  • Channel program name:  Windstream Enterprise Partner Program
  • When program launched:  2005
  • # of channel partners:  250 Master Agents/4,000 subagents
  • Typical partner profile:  Partners range across a wide spectrum of telecom and technology areas that are engaged in a similar space from a solution and technology focus, primarily in the subagent category of Windstream’s existing master agent relationships
  • Noteworthy aspect:  In addition to competitive compensation, attractive incentives and residuals, and an all-encompassing elite partner trip, many partners value the Partner Knowledge Hub and the WE Connect Partners portal for centralized management, on-the-go mobile access and real-time visibility into network health, trouble tickets and orders.

Join many of these technology providers – and many more – to see and learn about their solutions and partner programs first hand, at ITEXPO 2024, taking place February 13-15, 2024 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Since 1999, ITEXPO (News - Alert) has combined educational conference programming with a robust exhibit hall, networking events, and other activities, bringing together buyers and providers of business technology products and services that drive business success.  ITEXPO is part of the #TECHSUPERSHOW, along with MSP Expo, IoT Evolution Expo, Future of Work Expo, Enterprise Metaverse Expo, Generative AI Expo, and many other events, activities, and opportunities.




Edited by Erik Linask
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