We recognize Long as a Top Gun 51 honoree for his work leading RingCentral's channel.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

November 29, 2019

4 Min Read
Channel Partners Top Gun 51 logo

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


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…

…Channel Harmony, those that call in the cavalry and take advantage of RingCentral’s industry-leading channel team, those are the ones who get the deals over the finish line faster — and certainly more often.

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

ZL: Partners want to feel prepared to have conversations about your product with their customers, and they want as little friction as possible getting what they need. For us, that means no-cost certifications, informative webinars and events, and a world-class partner portal. Through these initiatives, partners have access to the tools they need to be informed, empowered and excited to sell RingCentral products and services.

CP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in working with the channel?

ZL: My biggest accomplishment to date is building the RingCentral channel sales team and program into what it is today. My team is focused on fundamentals, obsessed with partner success and driven by results.

CP: What are your career goals going forward?

ZL: In terms of adoption, UCaaS is still a very early-stage market. There is still a lot of room for RingCentral’s market penetration to grow and my plan is to continue to grow our market share. We are also aggressively expanding internationally — the amount of opportunity with our partners in those markets is incredibly exciting.

CP: What sort of advice would give someone who is just starting out in channel leadership?

ZL: The key to your partners’ success is providing them with a program that is easy to transact, fair and responsive. Build your program in a way that does not hinder partners, but focuses on enabling them to be champions for your business.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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