2018: A Channel Forecast from Vonage

Technology continues to dramatically change the way businesses operate.

January 5, 2018

3 Min Read
Crystal Ball


Bob Crissman

By Bob Crissman, Senior VP, Channel Chief, Vonage

2018 will be a pivotal year for the channel as technology continues to dramatically change the way businesses operate. Emerging technologies, such as chatbots, artificial intelligence (AI) and API integration, once relegated to the consumer space, will become pervasive within the enterprise business segment. I also expect continued growth in enterprise adoption of business cloud communications in a quest to enhance the way employees collaborate internally and engage with customers externally.

What this means is a pronounced shift in the channel as we move toward solutions-based selling, a departure from the traditional transactional sales model. To support this, providers will need to offer sales-enabled support, ongoing training and consultation services above and beyond deal close.

What should you look for in a supplier if you are moving your firm to a solutions-based selling approach?

Of course, you need the ability to accurately identify customer needs, coupled with the deep product knowledge to identify solutions built to precisely meet those needs. Providers must have the ability to not only support partners from the early stages through the close of the sales cycle, but also to create unique and powerful solutions tailored to the customer’s needs.

As channel partners take on more of a consultative role with their customers, they, in turn, will look to the provider to expand on the traditional partner/partner manager relationship to include on-the-ground sales support and technical expertise, along with an easy onboarding and efficient service-delivery process. This approach amplifies partners’ sales power, helping them to expand their reach and revenue potential without having to add resources to their team. The winning combination of partner as consultant and provider as ongoing support system will see the greatest success in winning more deals, faster.

All In

Moving forward, providers will also need to expand upon their support of the Channel to continue to foster its growth by sharing in the responsibility of demand generation. “All in” should be the provider’s mantra when investing in Partners’ growth. Both parties will need to work together to not only create demand, but also direct and enable lead flow into and from the Channel. A commitment to true partnerships with Channel Partners will drive their loyalty and success – a boon for the provider in creating a sticky relationship that will continue to grow as the Partner sees more and more success.

Lastly, providers also need to provide tools and resources that make it easy for partners to do business with them. It’s important to offer comprehensive support to partners, including:

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  • real-time analytics on deals;

  • transparency in deal registrations and commission payments;

  • easy access to sales support and training;

  • quick service delivery; and

  • better lead-generation tools, including marketing funds and materials.

This “all in” attitude will go a long way to foster and grow meaningful, strong relationships that ultimately spell success for both providers and partners.

Looking Ahead

None of this can be accomplished without a robust portfolio of innovative solutions and a well-defined channel program that provides a clear growth path for partners — a program that rewards and enables growth across all levels and types of partners. As trends in communications technology take hold, they will make a significant impact on the ever-changing face of enterprise communications, empowering businesses to strategically compete in their industries better than ever before. The providers’ goal and responsibility is to create a world where the channel partners’ needs and expectations in this changing landscape – and those of their enterprise customers – are not only met but exceeded during every stage of the sales cycle and beyond.

As senior vice president and channel chief for Vonage, Bob Crissman oversees the channel team, working with the company’s network of master agents, subagents, ISVs, VARs and other resellers to help them meet the full range of cloud communications needs for their enterprise customers.

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