Cloud communications provider 8x8 has been placing its bets on the channel over the past year and has been rewarded with significant growth thanks to distributors, master agents, and solution provider partners.
During 8x8's most recent fiscal quarter, ended December 31, 2017, six of 8x8’s top 10 deals came from channel partners, and overall channel bookings increased 50 percent year-over-year – marking "astronomical" growth for the program, Channel Chief Christopher Peters told CRN.
Now, the San Jose, Calif.-based provider wants to up the ante and is actively courting new channel partners to drive more growth, especially in the enterprise space.
The company's expanding channel program has been growing rapidly for the past four years and has helped 8x8 reach more mid-market and enterprise customers than it could do alone or through its own marketing efforts, Peters said.
"Distributors and their resellers are already talking to end customers, and are now these trusted advisors to mid-market and enterprise customers can present a UCaaS solution -- it’s a good complement, whether they are selling bandwidth, desktop as a service, or SD-WAN services," he said.
More recently, 8x8 realized it needed to put more energy into its channel program to get more partners recruited and earning revenue as quickly as possible, Peters said.
"We needed to give [solution providers] the tools, whether its support or deployment capabilities, to get them productive," he said. "They are investing in us, and they need to see a return on that investment."
8x8 in 2018 announced partnerships with several nationwide IT distributors, such as Ingram Micro, Jenne, and ScanSource. The company also grew its business through its relationships with U.S.-based master agents, including Avant, Intelisys, TBI, and Telarus.
8x8 branched out overseas, too, launching a partnership with PCI Pal, a UK-based compliant payment services provider last year. Via its distributor relationships, 8x8 also expanded its book of business in the UK and Ireland with the help of Ingram Micro Cloud, CDW, and ScanSource.
In addition to new partnerships, 8x8's multi-tiered enablement program offers sales and technical training, as well as certifications on customer support and deployment. Additionally, 8x8's compensation structure for partners helps alleviate some of the pains associated with recurring revenue that cloud and communications sales generate for partners who are used to premise-based technology sales.
"We have a program to help move these partners to the cloud by understanding how to sell it and the compensation associated with it," Peters said. "It might be a small check compared to what they've been used to, but it will happen every month for 36 months, and it will be even better for them."
The company is seeing a return on its investment in its channel program by way of more partners actively producing new monthly bookings, Peters said.
"Our channel program began over ten years ago, but it lacked focus and resources," he explained. "Four years ago, the growth really started when we implemented our clear-cut, strategic approach and we've had significant growth in each quarter in channel sales ever since."