Fusion Expects Little Or No Channel Conflict Due to PingTone Acquisition

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On the heels of its PingTone Communications acquisition, Fusion is sharing its rules of engagement since the new subsidiary brings a direct sales force to the combined company.

Fusion, founded in 1997, competes with the like of Deltathree, Vonage and Net2Phone, and has been adding a cloud services component over the past several years, all available through channel partners. The company’s goal? “To become the largest, most influential cloud services provider in the industry,” said Russell Markman, executive vice president of business services.

To help achieve that aim, Fusion has engaged in M&A; indeed, PingTone marks Fusion’s third acquisition in two years. And it adds a direct sales component that Fusion has decided to keep intact. Markman said that’s because Fusion wants to handle leads generated by its board members, shareholders and other people close to the company from the inside.

Plus, he said, as part of Fusion’s vertical markets strategy, some customers prefer to work with Fusion personnel, especially where sensitive information is exchanged.

“The focus of the direct sales force will be in these areas,” Markman said.

Still, Fusion has put in place some firm rules for direct sales reps, “to protect our partners from real or perceived conflicts,” Markman said. Those policies are:

  • No access to partner or partner customer information by anyone in the direct sales chain;
  • Direct sales prohibited from selling into existing partner accounts;
  • A deal registration program; and
  • No “black list” of untouchable customers.

The takeaway is that Fusion expects “little or no overlap or conflict with our…partner distribution channel.”

In fact, Markman said, Fusion has been putting more resources into its partner program. For example, the provider now has a Winner’s Circle for its top partners; there are more SPIFFs and support personnel; the partner marketing budget was increased by more than 100 percent for 2015; and the self-quote system lets qualified partners produce their own proposals on demand.

“Our overwhelming expectation is that Fusion’s future sales will come predominately from our partner channel and we will continue to maintain our commitment to a channel distribution system that is second to none,” Markman said.

Fusion said yesterday it paid $10 million for PingTone due to its reach in sectors including national defense, energy and finance.


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