Some partners may not have noticed, but over the past couple of years, the channel focus at Fonality had waned. The company, which built its name on open-source IP PBXs, in 2010 turned its attention to selling cloud phone systems and services, and through direct salespeople more than through agents and resellers. That shift occurred under then-CEO Dean Mansfield; he hailed from NetSuite and Brocade, two companies that, interestingly, support active channel programs. Earlier this year, however, Fonality replaced Mansfield with David Scult, a former Microsoft Corp. executive. And since that hiring, Fonality has revived its channel strategy.
The main reason is that selling through partners is profitable. Fonality targets SMBs and wants to increase its revenue among those customers; to do that, it is rededicating itself to the channel, with a vengeance. For example, the company took part in last month’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. Now, this month, Fonality is launching a new online portal, planning its first Partner Advisory Council and working on new products.
On April 17, Fonality planned to take its agents and resellers on a virtual tour of the revamped Partner Plus tool. The old site housed few resources some presentations and collateral, and nothing interactive. That has changed.
Now, Partner Plus boasts several sections, including sales and technical training and certification; a lead-generation program; a forum; sales and quoting tools; marketing assistance; and an industry newsfeed. There also are guidelines for co-branding with Fonality, and free downloads for products such as SIPLock Security, to add value for partners and end-users. And Fonality does not plan to limit enhancements to Partner Plus. As proof, sometime in the second half of the year, the company will deploy a single quote-and-order process to eliminate the multiple steps required to order separate products. Overall, the new site’s aim was to “bring Fonality back to a platform we shouldn’t ever have really left,” said Daryl Reva, Fonality’s marketing director.
In that spirit, Fonality just completed a survey of its partners in preparation for its first advisory council. The survey results give Fonality “the nitty-gritty of what our partners think about us, and what we can do to build upon the relationships,” Reva said. From there, Fonality intends to integrate much of the feedback it has received into its partner program; one way it will carry out that goal is by holding monthly calls that feature in-depth content. “We’re building … trust,” said Reva. To that point, Fonality will host its first-ever Partner Advisory Council before the end of this quarter. “We want feedback on the program and the products,” Reva said. “We want [partners] engaged in the roadmap itself.”
For the partners who have stuck with Fonality’s program for the past four years, all of the improvements surely come as good news. And new leadership is to thank, Reva said. “The resurgence has been a direct correlation to a new CEO coming on board who very much believes in [the indirect channel],” said Reva.
John Young, Fonality’s vice president of channel development, agreed. “Our goal … is to make it even easier for partners to do business with us,” he said in a prepared statement. “Fonality is continuing to gain market share and we see the channel as a tremendous growth opportunity.”