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Vonage, Nextiva, Pax8 Channel Chiefs Roll with the Changes

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Channel chiefs constantly face new challenges with continued M&A, changing technology and partner categories, and pressure to build and maintain effective partner programs.

A panel of channel chiefs will address all of the current issues facing them and their counterparts throughout the channel.

They will share advice in their presentation, “Channel Chief Roundtable” April 10, part of the marketing and technology conference track, sponsored by Nextiva, at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas.

Pax8's Jennifer Bodell

Pax8’s Jennifer Bodell

Channel Partners spoke to Jennifer Bodell, Pax8‘s vice president of channel and member of the Channel Partners Editorial Advisory Board, who will monitor the session; and panelists Mario DeRiggi, Vonage Business‘ senior vice president of channel sales and business development, and Carl Katz, Nextiva’s vice president of channel sales for North America.

In a Q&A, the panelists gave a sneak peek of the information they plan to share during the session. The responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: What are some of the most pressing needs facing channel chiefs?

Jennifer Bodell: One of the most pressing needs facing channel chiefs today is understanding the importance of channel partnerships and developing a channel program tailored to meet and exceed the needs of their businesses. The program should be focused on enabling your channel partners to understand new innovations, how to apply it to their business and easily sell. It is just as important to continue listening to channel partners so you can modify the program as the needs of the channel partner grow and evolve.

Vonage's Mario DeRiggi

Vonage’s Mario DeRiggi

Mario DeRiggi: As customers’ adoption of cloud-based business applications increases, we are focused on building the enablement structure required to support our partners’ need to address this growing demand. Similarly, we are focused on educating our partner community to ensure they understand and take full advantage of the benefits of the One Vonage platform and that they are able to deliver that same message to their customer base.

Carl Katz: Some of the most pressing needs facing channel chiefs include educating the partner on their company’s differentiators and value proposition. Partners have many choices when selling VoIP. Differentiating your company through education and consistent messaging is critical to the success of any organization. Another pressing need confronting channel chiefs is hiring great talent. In this “sellers market,” where everyone is recruiting the best talent, hiring can be a challenge. Having a great reputation, competitive compensation plan and excellent culture is important when recruiting and maintaining talent.

CP: How is increasing M&A and consolidation impacting the role of channel chief?

JB: Mergers and acquisition are inevitable in this industry — especially if you’re successful. Channel chiefs need to be aware of the current company’s key initiatives and goals. Getting stuck in the past of what might have worked 10 years ago in your company may not work today. The market is evolving fast. Look at M&A as a clean slate to try new things and take risks. Those who think they can change the world, do. Being stuck in the past or constantly looking at what others are doing could be harmful to yourself and the company’s growth potential.

MD: As a channel organization, we know we need to focus on educating our partners on the value of these acquisitions and the technology they bring, as well as the long-term benefits and how it will – or won’t – impact their customers.

CK: Since partners are looking for long-term income, it is more critical than ever to …

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