CRN Exclusive: Five9's New Channel Leader Talks Debut Partner Program

Contact center software specialist Five9 is launching its debut partner program, armed with incentives, training and marketing development funds to help onboard partners looking to make the journey to the cloud.

To lead its channel expansion, San Ramon, Calif.-based Five9 has hired industry veteran Wendell Black as its vice president of channel sales. Black has more than 25 years of contact center experience and has held top sales positions at Oracle, Bright Pattern and Vocalcom.

In an exclusive interview with CRN, Black explained his channel strategy, which focuses on offering incentives and training new partners from a "more legacy contact center space" about how to win cloud-based sales.

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"It's a different strategy for finding and nurturing through a sales process to get to a successful close [for partners]," Black said. "We're going to team with our partners and based on their sales success, they will have an increasing amount of marketing development funds to help us go drive business and opportunity for them."

Five9 already has an established referral partner program as well as a master agents program, launched last year. "The next logical evolution for us is to move from that master agent type of a relationship to a resale-oriented model," he said.

Black said the new channel program includes resellers, systems integrators and master agents. The program offers partners the ability to be a reseller or full OEM partner.

"We couldn't be more excited about the launch of the partner program," said Richard Murray, president of Draper, Utah-based CarrierSales, one of the first partners to join the program. "Five9 has exceeded our expectations by their commitment and investments within the channel."

Murray said the hiring of Black proves that the vendor is "keeping their partners top of mind."

In seeking potential new partners, Five9 has identified 1,500 contact center-focused solution providers in the U.S. alone, Black said, and has already signed up a few dozen. He said Five9 solutions are attractive to solution providers because of recurring revenue and the company's ability to win larger deals than its competitors.

"Last quarter, our average transaction value was just under $400,000 of annual contract value, and the average call center user account is in the 140 seats range," Black said. "Those are decisively larger transitions than the vast majority of our cloud competitors."

Five9 has historically focused on the SMB market, but has been winning more deals in the enterprise over the past several years, according to Black. Its flagship multitenant Virtual Contact Center solution leverages its own cloud platform.

According to a research report from Pune, India-based MarketsandMarkets, the cloud-based contact center market will grow from $4.6 billion in 2015 to $14.7 billion by 2020, growing at a CAGR of more than 25 percent.

Research firm Gartner, Stamford, Conn., says the Contact Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) market in North America is growing rapidly and provides a viable alternative to traditional premise-based solutions across a variety of deployment sizes and complexity. Gartner named Five9 as a Leader in its recent Magic Quadrant for CCaaS -- listing it as the top company for execution.

"We are positioned with the highest ability to execute, and what partners are extremely focused on is getting a safe, and predicable outcome in terms of servicing their clients," Black said.