Top Gun 51 Profile: Nextiva’s Carl Katz Says to Talk Solutions, Not Price

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Today’s successful channel leader is a jack of all trades and needs to constantly hone their skills to keep up with competitors and partner opportunities.

That’s according to Carl Katz, who joined Nextiva five years ago and quickly moved up the ranks from channel manager to regional director, to vice president of channel sales for North America.

Nextiva's Carl Katz

Nextiva’s Carl Katz

Katz has an ability to motivate and bring people together while staying laser-focused on the strategic direction of his company. He’s upfront about the fact that partners have many choices – M&A activity has been a real factor – and that it’s on him to differentiate Nextiva by providing education and consistent messaging.

He’s known for honesty, investing in talent and working to build long-term relationships.

That’s why Katz is part of Channel Partners’ Top Gun 51, which recognizes a new generation of channel executives, those who build and execute programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.

The #TopGun51 are recognized at Channel Partners Evolution and three special award winners – Channel Innovator (thought leadership, innovation), Lifetime Achievement and Rising Star – have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion on the keynote stage.

Before joining Nextiva, Katz was national channel sales manager at TW Telecom, and held roles with Fision Work, NuVox Communications – which was acquired by Windstream – and Level 3 Communications, which was acquired by CenturyLink.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Katz talks about his experience and accomplishments in the channel, and shares advice for successful channel leadership.

Channel Partners: How did you first become involved in the channel? Was it part of your overall career plan?

Carl Katz: I initially got involved with the channel in the early ’90s when I was promoted from a direct sales rep to an alternate channel manager with PageNet (the beeper company). At that point, I knew that I belonged in the channel, as dealing with business professionals was a lot easier than cold calling.

We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.

CP: Have you been responsible for building channel programs from the ground up?

CK: I have had several positions where I started a channel program from inception, including FDN Communications (which merged with NuVox Communications) where I was the first channel director. At Nextiva I started in the channel almost from the beginning of the program and working with our leaders to build the channel to what it is today.

CP: What have your learned most from your experience with the channel and partners?

CK: I have learned that the partner community is close-knit and partners are in constant communication with each other either through the phone, email and/or social media. It’s important to the integrity of any program to always do the right thing for our partners and customers or word will get out, which will set a program back significantly.

CP: What are the components of a successful channel program? Are there things that used to work, but now don’t?

CK: The components of a successful channel program include proactive and supportive channel managers; great partner tools; a proactive marketing team; excellent incentives; aggressive marketing development funds (MDF); scalability; regular strategy sessions to understand partner initiatives; constant communication; and regular product enhancements to partners can sell long-term value.

Channel managers used to be able to communicate reactively to partners when an opportunity arose. Now more than ever, channel professionals need to be proactive and strategic in their approach. Competition is fierce in the telecom channel. More options are available every day. We need to convey our value proposition effectively to both partners and customers, and be better than the next guy in selling deals. Partners will only do business with …

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