Channel programs News

Intermedia Hires Polycom CMO To Spearhead Emerging Technology Sales, International Expansion

Michael Novinson

Cloud business application provider Intermedia has landed Polycom's top marketing executive to drive hosted VoIP sales and facilitate expansion into the United Kingdom and Australia.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company, No. 189 on the CRN Solution Provider 500, will task Chief Marketing Officer Jim Kruger with building up Intermedia's name recognition around channel partners and customers to help accelerate growth. Kruger spent 16 years at Polycom, where he has, for the past four years, overseen a $60 million, 160-employee worldwide marketing operation.

"There comes a time where you need to diversify your background," Kruger told CRN. "I wanted to get more experience and move into the cloud."

[Related: Intermedia Driving Partner Profitability With Broad Portfolio Of Cloud Security, Voice Services]

Nearly half of Polycom's revenue comes from outside the United States, and Kruger said Intermedia has an opportunity to grow from that perspective. Success outside the U.S. for Intermedia will be contingent on the company localizing its message to the U.K. and Australia, Kruger said, and providing key channel partners with the tools, collateral and messaging needed to grow Intermedia's share in those countries.

"No one has the breadth of offerings and the one-stop shop that Intermedia has," said Kruger, who will start at Intermedia on May 15. He replaces senior vice president of marketing Eric Weiss, who left Intermedia in October to take the CMO job at digital wealth management firm Personal Capital.

Kruger said he plans to learn where Intermedia is in the hosted VoIP space and assess how the company can expand its presence. Kruger has 16 years of experience at Polycom selling VoIP equipment and services with 300 service providers around the globe. He said he has a good sense of what types of go-to-market programs in the space work.

Kruger said he plans to focus on customer retention in the hosted VoIP, though he acknowledged Polycom's VoIP business was more hardware-centric while Intermedia's is more services-centric. As a result, Kruger said Polycom was typically selling VoIP into service providers like Comcast, RingCentral, and 8x8, while Intermedia sells its VoIP offerings into IT channel partners.

Intermedia also can do more with the messaging, positioning and packaging of its marketing efforts around security and file backup and sharing. Kruger said he need to ascertain which of Intermedia's 30 applications are selling well or are in growth markets and align his resources accordingly.

From a channel marketing perspective, Kruger said he wants to meet with Intermedia's top partners and identify their needs and market opportunities. He also wants to focus on helping smaller channel partners drive lead generation and greater awareness of Intermedia's solutions by providing turnkey marketing programs that solution providers can leverage without having to deploy internal resources.

Kruger said he wants to craft a plan that focuses on the top 20 percent of Intermedia's partners that are committed to making significant investments in the relationship. Intermedia has shifted from a predominantly direct sales model at the time of its 1995 founding to driving 70 percent of sales through a network of more than 6,000 solution providers, SVP of worldwide sales Eric Martorano said in March.

Kruger's said his top priorities include: building up a demand pipeline sufficient to help the sales team meet its goals; boosting the quality and quantity of media outlets Intermedia is getting into; and providing channel partners with the tools and investments they need to grow their business.

Some 99 percent of Polycom's sales go through the channel, and Kruger said he's eager to continue operating under a channel-friendly and channel-centric approach.

Intermedia's growth rate and 100-percent cloud offering across a wide variety of applications were appealing to Kruger. Although Kruger's budget and resources will be smaller at Intermedia – the company has annual sales of $200 million, as compared with $1.3 billion for Polycom in 2015 – he said being at a smaller company will offer opportunities to do more guerilla marketing and be creative.

"I like small companies," Kruger said. "You can be a lot more agile and have a lot more impact."

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