The companies were grilled by a panel of experts on the show floor at Channel Partners Evolution. SPIFFs, the partner onboarding process and the "gateway drug" to attract partners were hot topics during the forum.
Moderator Bryan Reynolds, TBI's director of post sales, said the panelists were "vying for a spot in your portfolio" while trying to convince you to steer clear of any competitors.
Jim McGarry, Mitel's regional channel director of master agents, said his company is a leader in UCaaS and the first to reach 1 million users. The company is all channel and it built an enterprise-level platform that the "customers love and know."
Jeff Yakubik, RingCentral's senior director of channel sales, said his company is "probably the only pure over-the-top UCaaS up here today" and the "purest play channel company."
"For customers, it’s really the customer experience," he said "If customer experience isn’t there, that’s really the kernel where everything lives."
Steve Forcum, Avaya cloud technologist, said what his company is focused on is "when people need help, we give them" the resources and technology. More than 90 percent of Avaya's business goes through the channel, and the company is a "ripe opportunity" for channel, he said.
Ken Lienemann, CoreDial's chief revenue officer, said his company provides UCaaS that "enables the channel to be successful," primarily target SMB.
"And we private label," he said. "We’re north of 320,000 seats in the United States."
While Mitel, RingCentral and Avaya all offer SPIFFs, CoreDial does not. Lienneman said his company's model is different.
"You sign up for commitments and a percentage of gross margin of business," he said. "Neither is wrong, just fundamentally different. I think SPIFFs are going to be around forever, we just happen to not offer them."
A lot of partners are trying to make the move to monthly recurring revenue (MRR), which can lead to a cash flow problem, "so you need some of that in SPIFF and MRR to make it work," Yakubik said.
When asked about features and functionality, McGarry said "everybody has them … we all can do that."
"With Mitel, it’s the customer experience we continue on after the signed contract," he said. "Will have a project manager assigned to them. I say make your choice on who is your provider based on what that customer experience is after the contract is signed."
Forcum said when it comes to UCaaS, "one size does not fit all in this arena." Switching to the cloud isn't like "flipping a switch," he said.
"(Customers are) seeing it as more of a journey than a jump," he said. "We’ve got a variety of different flavors so we can (provide) exactly what the customer wants."
With customers, it comes down to mobility and apps, Yakubik said.
"We have a 12,000-deep development community putting those apps together," he said. "From a customer standpoint, it’s important that you do have options."
When asked about their "gateway drug" for partners, McGarry said Mitel's is its support and investment in its agent channel. Yakubik said the RingCentral Office product is without a doubt his company's crown jewel, and the company provides "day one a process, hard and fast process, for escalations, and not just partner support, but customer support."
Forcum said Avaya's gateway drug is "our leads," with a large, loyal customer base that's 90 percent on-premises.
"It’s the right product set … the right moment in time," he said. "More money in your pocket and the customer base is hungry to buy."
Lienemann said CoreDial's gateway drug is its business model and profits.