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Top Gun 51 Profile: RingCentral’s Zane Long Says UCaaS Still Early-Stage Market

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Zane Long has implemented strategies that have led to accelerated revenue growth for both RingCentral and its partners.

RingCentral's Zane Long

RingCentral’s Zane Long

As RingCentral’s senior vice president of global channel sales, Long implemented “Channel Harmony,” whereby partners and direct reps can work on closing deals together without conflict. Second, his reps will call a customer directly, without the partner, for deals registered under 100 seats. This was taken in the channel as a very negative thing at the time, not to include the partner in customer discussions — but it works. It’s like having another sales rep working for you.

For its third quarter ending Sept. 30, RingCentral’s revenue increased 34% year over year to $233 million. Channel average rate of return (ARR) increased 63% year over year to $263 million.

Long 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.

Long joined RingCentral in February 2016, and before that was Vonage’s vice president of global strategic partner group. He also held channel leadership roles with Cbeyond, which was acquired by Birch, and Genband.

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.

Last month, Avaya announced it is entering a strategic partnership with RingCentral in which it will introduce a new unified communications as a service (UCaaS) solution. Under the agreement, RingCentral will contribute $500 million to the deal and will be Avaya’s exclusive provider of UCaaS solutions.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Long talks about his history in the channel and strategies that work for partners.

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

Zane Long: I have been involved in the channel for nearly two decades. For me, it has always been about following the product; that is, finding a product that I could stand behind. It becomes much easier to develop an indirect channel and to enable the partner community around it if you have that strong product as a foundation.

CP: Have you been responsible for building channel programs from the ground up? If so, how did your experience come into play in these processes?

ZL: Yes, several times. Each time you do it, you carry over the lessons and experience from the last role, but building a channel program from scratch always comes with its own unique set of challenges. For example, company culture, products, resources available, to name a few. Being able to call on previous experience helps to eventually create the best-in-class program — which we have here at RingCentral.

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

ZL: I believe channel partners are most successful when they regard the resources at a vendor’s company as an extension of their own business. Sometimes, we encounter partners that are set on going it alone, rather than utilizing the sales and marketing resources we have to offer. That’s fine, but we’ve found that those partners who embrace…

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