Intermedia Takes Aim At Rival Cloud UC Vendors Through Its ‘Critical’ Reseller Channel
‘I always tell partners: If you want to own your customer and have that direct relationship with that customer, and you want the top line revenue and to bundle services, set your own pricing, and be able to control your margins, we’re the only channel model on the market that does that,’ Intermedia COO Jonathan McCormick tells CRN exclusively.
Business communications specialist Intermedia is luring in reseller partners thanks to its unique approach to selling communications through the channel, according to Intermedia COO Jonathan McCormick.
Resellers make up the most critical channel for Intermedia and helps differentiate it from competitors in the crowded cloud unified communications space. That’s because the company’s reseller model handles the often-complex telecom taxes and billing for partners while still keeping control of the customer relationship squarely in the hands of the trusted adviser, McCormick said.
“When we recruit partners, we use our CORE model as our recruitment vehicle because it really is different than anything else out there. We’re really the only communications provider at scale that has this type of model,” McCormick told CRN in an exclusive interview.
The closest competitor with a similar go-to-market model for resellers would have been CoreDial, which is a much smaller provider that was acquired by solution provider giant BCM One in 2021.
Intermedia last year rebranded its Private Label Reseller channel program to the Customer Ownership Reseller, or CORE, program, aimed at supporting the success of these partners.
Intermedia has been going to market with the channel for 16 years with this model, but the previous name didn’t speak to the value of the program—the customer ownership from the partner perspective. For that reason, the key tenets of the CORE program haven’t changed, McCormick said.
“Those core pieces that make up the CORE program are still the most valuable, differentiated out there,” he said. “I always tell partners, ‘If you want to own your customer and have that direct relationship with that customer, and you want the top-line revenue and to bundle services, set your own pricing, and be able to control your margins, we’re the only channel model on the market that does that.’”
The investment in the reseller model is paying off. Intermedia has gained new partners as a result of Avaya choosing to work with RingCentral as opposed to building its own offering, and RingCentral acquiring some of Mitel’s technologies in November, McCormick said. Japanese telecom equipment maker NEC also white-labels Intermedia’s cloud communications and contact center offerings, which has dramatically expanded the company’s customer base, he added.
Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Intermedia does 90 percent of its business through the channel, with about 75 percent of its channel business coming from reseller partners. Many of these partners have also sold Intermedia’s other side of its portfolio: its Microsoft products, including its email archiving and security offerings, and Microsoft 365 by Intermedia.
Intermedia still does about 25 percent of its business through agent partners though its Advisor partner model, which is the dominant channel model in the cloud-based UC space today.
The issue with the agent model is that partners act as sales agents for another company, McCormick said. “You’re really just giving your customers over and building [another UC company’s] business. You’re getting a commission in the back end, which doesn’t build your business in the long run. It’s just a different business model,” he said.
Intermedia offers its reseller partners a platform with resources to help them with marketing, on-boarding and supporting new customers. For partners that may have never sold cloud UC in a reseller model before, Intermedia does the heavy lifting by handling billing and telecom taxes, one of the biggest barriers to selling communications in a resale model for many partners, McCormick said.
“We know how to calculate all the communication taxes and fees, and we prepare all that for [partners],” he said. “That’s one of the biggest things we do for them so that they can sell unified communications and take no responsibility for telecom taxes and billing. That’s an example how deeply we’ve thought about enabling these partners to be successful.”