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Vonage Launches Its First Channel Program To Boost Cloud Communications Sales

Vonage wants solution providers to know it is investing heavily in the channel community. The cloud communications provider is launching its first-ever channel program, the Vonage Partner Network.

Vonage wants partners to know it's open for business. As such, the cloud communications provider is launching its first-ever channel program, the Vonage Partner Network.

Holmdel, N.J.-based Vonage offers consumer and business communication services. While the provider has been working with master agents in an "informal" capacity, Vonage is getting serious about the channel because it wants to give partners a consistent, reliable experience and build stronger relationships with more solution providers.

"Whether you're working with the largest systems integrators, or a small agent, they want to understand how to interact with the vendors they're doing business with -- they really want to understand the rules of the game," Bob Crissman, Channel Chief of Vonage told CRN.

[Related: Across The Telecom Spectrum: 6 Moves That Made Waves In The Channel In September]

Crissman joined Vonage in September and was tasked with building a strong channel program that would encourage more solution providers to build out their own Vonage practice.

Vonage is helping partners sell UCaaS and integrate voice into their customers' existing business processes and applications, such as Salesforce and SAP. "This allows for better business outcomes, but we have to do a better job of enabling partners to that," Crissman said.

When Crissman started at Vonage about six months ago, the channel accounted for about 20 percent of Vonage's business, and Vonage is already seeing that percentage increase, he said.

To start its program on a strong note, Vonage today has 25 national channel managers on-staff. The provider has joined forces with 30 master agents with their own base of VAR, MSP, and agent partners that are selling Vonage services today. Vonage also has direct contracts with about 1,500 agent partners.

Crissman and his team have overhauled Vonage's internal sales process so its own sales staff is motivated to work alongside partners, removing the dreaded channel conflict that plagues many providers, he said. Vonage Teaming Plus is a new program that incentivizes Vonage sales employees by offering the same compensation, whether or not they work with a partner to close a deal. Partners, on the other hand, are backed by Vonage's sales and engineering support from the sales lead, all the way through to the close of the deal and ongoing management in between.

"Our partners, sales folks, and channel manager in the local geographies will be working and selling together. We have a sales force of over 400, larger than any of our competitors, and we want to make that available to our partners so we both can sell more," he said.

Vonage partners in the new program will have access to a new partner portal which will be available at the end of Q1 2018, as well as the provider's entire portfolio of products and services. Vonage is also making live and on-demand training and certifications available to partners interested in a more "solutions-based sales model" that will help them land more business from their customers, Crissman said.

The new program features four different tiers, including Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Emerging. Partners will earn lucrative recurring revenue on Vonage services sold to business customers.

The provider is not only actively seeking new relationships with partners, but Vonage also wants to help pair MSPs and VARs with agent partners who can help each other with different parts of the customer relationship, Crissman said.

"We want to work with more agents who really understand this space, but we also want to work with more VARs and solution providers," he said. "I really want to match agents up with VARs so agents can do the selling and the VAR can handle the implementation of the custom solution."

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