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Top Gun 51 Profile: Nextiva’s MeiLee Langley on the Importance of Channel Marketing

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MeiLee Langley has only been Nextiva’s director of channel marketing since February 2019. But clearly she’s made a big impression in the channel, achieving recognition as a Top Gun 51 award winner.

Nextiva's MeiLee Langley

Nextiva’s MeiLee Langley

Her track record as a top marketing executive at companies such as 8×8 and RingCentral – and non-tech organizations prior to that – created a solid skills and communication foundation that landed her at Nextiva. And, key to her success, is her love of the channel.

But more than that, Langley listens to partners and is willing to be flexible.

Nextiva recruited Langley to build out its channel marketing department and channel marketing program. The company also asked her to help Nextiva’s channel leadership rebuild its channel partner program, specifically around its framework and scalability. The latest Nextiva partner program launched July 1.

A big milestone for Langley was the launch, in January, of CoNEXtion, Nextiva’s end-to-end-marketing program.

Three criteria were considered for this year’s Top Gun 51 winners. They are channel advocacy; commitment to partner business success; and dedication to earning the channel’s trust. To come up with the list, we solicited input from those who know channel executives best — distributors, master agents and industry analysts.

We chatted with Langley about channel marketing and more in this Q&A.

Channel Partners: How important is marketing for partners today?

MeiLee Langley: It’s more important than ever. In telecom, our partners never had to be marketers. Up until recently, their businesses would be hugely successful just based on renewals and referrals. They could be salespeople, and they were very successful at that.

Then telecom shifted to cloud. Partners no longer had the hardware to rely on, and line prices were compressing to $10, $15 a seat. These partners realized they couldn’t rely on the contracts that they had up until now. They had to cast a wider net and start fishing and become partner marketers. And a lot of them don’t know how to do it.

Nextiva’s MeiLee Langley is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.

CF: This is a big opportunity for you to make a big impression, or not.

ML: Partners are salespeople. So they rely on the marketing teams at the vendors to make marketing simple for them and to make it something they can do quickly. CoNextion is a full partner demand suite that lets these salespeople get an email campaign out the door, or a landing page set up or a social campaign set up in five minutes. There’s an initial setup of the platform, but that takes 10 minutes.

Everything is fully done for them. They can customize if they want, but everything is prepopulated for them. We’ve had 350+ partners jump on board since launching it in January.

CF: Agents/partners don’t just become marketers overnight. It isn’t in their DNA. What’s your secret sauce for this early success?

ML: I think the mistake that marketers often make in this space is that we put all this hard work into creating these programs, menus of marketing programs for partners — but we forget to listen to them.

So what I do, or anyone on my team does, when talking to a partner, is listen to them. If the partner has something that works or has a system that’s effective, let’s not force them into our programs. Let’s put fuel on the fire. Offer them money to help them accelerate what they’re doing if that works for them. Let’s listen to them and …

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