Fonality Partners Laud Company's Focus On Marketing Services

The biggest vendors in the game need to sit up and take notice of Fonality's channel program strategy, particularly its focus on providing marketing services for solution providers, said partners of the unified communications and VoIP vendor.

"I definitely think if other [vendors] could do the model Fonality has set up, we'd all be successful at selling the bigger IT vendors' products," said Tom Angelo, president of Spire IT, a Clark, N.J.-based Fonality partner. "For example, right now they're running an email campaign on our behalf to try to generate leads for us."

Andrew Yoon, president of Phase 1 Technology, a Woodside, N.Y.-based IT solution provider and Fonality partner, said Fonality's partner program has benefited his company more than any other channel program, noting that larger vendor programs "should use similar tactics."

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Fonality, Plano, Texas, saw 60-plus percent growth in partner recruitment in 2014 and an increase of 75 percent in MSPs joining the program. Approximately 200 new partners have come on board since the launch of its revamped program in April, which included a unique marketing consultancy strategy, said Hope Davo, senior channel marketing manager at Fonality.

Daryl Reva, vice president of marketing at Fonality, said, "We've built this marketing consultancy approach into the channel marketing team that allows [partners] to really focus on growing and jumping into cloud communications. We've helped build entire websites for our partners, we have a 'Zero to 60' program that ensures that they're up and running as successfully as possible in the first 60 days with everything they need -- whether it's sales enablement tools, training … The way Fonality is set up, there's a co-sales, co-marketing, co-closing environment. It's truly a hand-holding experience."

"Right now there's a Web developer who's helping me on the social media side in regards to [our] website," said Phase 1 Technology's Yoon.

The vendor's Marketing 360 online resource gives partners access to client testimonials, monthly marketing webinars and sales presentations, and the company offers $1,000 in MDF for every 30 customer seats they sell in a quarter. Fonality also launched an online community for partners called Fonality Partner Exchange, created to give partners instant access to sales, marketing and engineering teams.

Fonality also has consolidated its product portfolio so it can be deployed in multiple ways.

"We have great multiple deployment models that we're able to bring to the table -- that's anything from a public hosted environment, private hosted environment, we can provide on-premise or hybrid approach to our deployments, or a software-only version," said Reva. "It allows partners to take our IP and kind of build their own systems, bringing off-the-shelf hardware. It allows a single partner to really never lose a deal based on the deployment model."

Spire IT's Angelo said building a product that can be sold in multiple ways helps his business by making it easier to sell.

"They're definitely trying to help us market their products and that includes revamping their product line to really accommodate clients who if they want to have an on-premise phone system they can, if they want to be in the cloud they can -- [there are] a lot of different ways to sell it," said Angelo.

Angelo said Spire IT has been working with the same Fonality channel representative for the past five years.

"I'm a big believer in the personal relationship," Spire IT's Angelo said. "I don't know how well that scales for a big vendor, but it's tough to get anything like that at the big vendor level."

Reva said Fonality stands "side-by-side" with partners who want to flip their business to the industry trend of migrating from a one-time payment model to a subscription-based model with recurring revenue.

"Partners are getting money up front to cover any additional sales cost they might have. More importantly, where they see the true value in the subscription model is in the recurring revenue that's upwards of 20 percent for our certified partners, plus one month [monthly recurring revenue] up front," said Reva. "We've really sweetened the deal."