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New Vonage Channel Chief: Partner Feedback Will Drive Channel Strategy

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Edward Gately**Editor’s Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in July.**

Vonage Business (Booth F39 and a Signature Sponsor) has appointed Kyle Johnson to senior vice president of sales, heading up its “one-stop shop” for more than 20 master agents and 350 subagents.

Vonage's Kyle JohnsonJohnson joined Vonage in 2013 as vice president of sales when the company acquired Vocalocity. With Vocalocity, he directed and managed national and regional sales teams, promoting hosted voice, cloud and security services to enterprises.

In addition to heading up channel sales, Johnson now leads Telesales for the entire Vonage organization.

“Kyle has demonstrated extraordinary success in sales leadership throughout his career, and we are thrilled to be able to tap into his experience with the indirect channel to lead Vonage’s channel sales organization,” said Gregg Fiddes, Vonage’s chief sales officer.

Vonage also has hired Gregg Rowe as regional vice president of channel sales for the West. Previously Lightstream’s managing director of solutions integration, he is responsible for supporting Vonage’s partners in the western region of the United States as Vonage continues to expand its channel partner program.{ad}

Vonage's Gregg RoweVonage has undergone a transformation, expanding beyond a home phone replacement company to become a major provider of cloud communications for business.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Johnson talks about Vonage’s transformation and what partners can expect with him now heading up channel sales.

Channel Partners: Vonage has undergone a transformation to become a top cloud communications provider. What has this meant for Vonage’s partners?

Kyle Johnson: As more mid and large businesses begin to move their communications to the cloud, our position as a market leader is reinforced by: our ability to provide the full portfolio of UCaaS offerings (and) control the quality of the delivery of those services anywhere in the country; our experience and systems to onboard new customers seamlessly; and our breadth of portals and service experts to support high-end businesses.

We have one of the largest indirect channel sales programs in the industry, with more than 30 channel managers across the country. Vonage is a preferred provider for many of the largest master agents in the country, harnessing a network of over 20,000 subagents.

We are also able to provide a one-stop shop for our partners. Those selling cloud services in the past needed to work with multiple providers depending on whether they wanted to offer a quick-to-provision simple voice service with BYOB, or a …

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… larger multi-location solution over a private, MPLS network, or cloud services beyond voice, such as virtual desktop and virtual server offerings. Vonage offers one of the largest and most comprehensive feature sets in the UCaaS industry, so we are able to provide our partners and their customers with all of those services.

CP: Do you see new markets and opportunities opening up for Vonage’s partners?

KJ: I think we’ll see rapid adoption of cloud communications as more businesses understand the full breadth and depth of how moving their communications to the cloud can positively impact their business. There are no hardware costs like those associated with the PBX system in the closet, and a cloud solution is fully scalable, with very low operating costs, and more features and functionality.

In addition, companies want to integrate their communications with their regular workflow through other business applications and CRM tools. We’ll see workflow integration become increasingly important for businesses moving their communications to the cloud because it allows for greater employee mobility and productivity.

We are seeing more and more channel partners embrace UCaaS, and our goal is to help them continue to grow in this market by providing them with exceptional products, technology infrastructure, service delivery, training, marketing and provisioning support, and ongoing support for their business and their customers.

CP: What feedback have you received from partners?

KJ: Our partners have communicated how surprised they were with how simple the sales and implementation process for our Essentials product has been. They have also been pleased with our engagement level from our sales support teams, as well as the diligence around customer installation and turn up. More broadly, we consistently receive positive reactions to how we listened to partner feedback around the need for a national partner manager role and created the position to better support them. We’ve also heard tremendous positive feedback around our SPIFFs and residual compensation, as well.

CP: Are you planning any changes to the Vonage channel program?

KJ: I believe simplicity and ease of doing business is key to the channel partner’s success. It is also critical for …

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… providers to offer channel partners the back office systems and service delivery expertise to ensure customers have an exceptional onboarding and support experience.

Vonage’s channel partner program supports the indirect channel by providing a robust portfolio of UC solutions and best-in-class service, delivery and training services to help them grow their businesses. Our investment in sales, marketing and technology infrastructure to support channel partners will help to ensure that partners will be successful as a result of working with us.

We help our partners to create happy end customers. That creates a more profitable relationship.

CP: What are the biggest issues now facing Vonage and what will be your role in addressing them?

KJ: As the adoption of cloud communications services continues to move upmarket, larger customers are depending on channel partners to be trusted advisors. We will continue to demonstrate our desire to help channel partners to be more profitable by sponsoring training events, providing personalized sales and training support and access to our innovative engineering staff, creating fast quoting tools and reliable installs, and providing ongoing exceptional care and support for their customers.

CP: What will Vonage’s channel strategy look like in three to five years?

KJ: We have made a focused effort to seek feedback from our partners and then make internal changes to our organization to better support them based on that feedback. As we continue to keep our finger on the pulse of our partners, we will make tweaks as necessary and continue to be proactive in responding to, and anticipating the needs of our partners to best serve them day in and day out.

Additionally, every sector of the industry has and will continue to strive to “sell to the business.” This is no different for Vonage, and our channel partners will be the key. “Selling to the business” means being relevant and having a strong story at the application and process layers. At Vonage, we have invested heavily in our application and process layer solutions and we are already finding tremendous success with partners that focus on these layers. We believe more partners will evolve to this model and we will continue to keep our focus on these types of partners.


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