Australian partners of unified communications giant Zoom have weighed in on the changes to the company's partner program which has seen it move from a flat partner status to a tiered program.
In an interview with CRN, Zoom’s ANZ channel chief Don Kerr said the changes will let partners work with the vendor to invest in practices and be rewarded around that investment.
“So [we are] delivering that ability for them to do more with us and to then be looking around as they move up to that top level in the [top] performance tier be looking at how they're being incentivised, additional MDF, rebates funded head and what are the different models that we would look at that."
“I think from my perspective in the local market is how can we help those sorts of partners really build a practice around selling, and then the partner is the one that's really helping deliver happiness to the end customer.”
Kerr said the vendor would be working with its existing partner base to ensure that where they have the right skill sets, they will be able to access the appropriate training and move up the tiers of the program.
“So when this [program] goes live in that September timeframe, we will already have some performance partners, there'll be sales partners in there. But for new partners that come into our ecosystem and are going to come in at the enrolled layer, there's the ability for them to get accreditation and step up the levels.”
The program now features three new competencies volume, phone and customer success. These are focussed on an organisation’s ability to deliver a solution. The volume certification represents a solution provider’s ability to sell Zoom licences, the phone certification refers to skills around the Zoom Phone and customer success is related to delivering outcomes for the customer.
The other new aspect is accreditations for individuals within the partner organisation and Kerr said that the vendor wanted to want to know that, from the initial engagement with a customer, or renewal with additional services to be delivered, the sellers in an organisation, understand the value proposition and can position it.
“In the Australian context for sales professionals, being able to have that framework around they're not just broad UC or UCaaS [partners], but they have the capacity and understand the Zoom UCaaS solution and the platform and how it plays."
Zoom’s channel program covers traditional resale and an agency model. The latter is spearheaded in ANZ by Tradewinds Technology Brokerage. The company’s local boss Tony Heywood told CRN that while many of the changes were geared toward traditional resale partners, the shift brings many positives for local agents as well.
“Going from a single flat level up to a tiered structure and building capability and specialisation is a necessary step as the product range becomes more sophisticated and complex because they'll attract different types of partners that want to specialise in different areas,” he told CRN.
“From an agent partner perspective, I've got partners that will be affected by it, because maybe they'll want to do some specialisations. And I've got other partners that are single person organizations and they just want to refer business to Zoom, so they won't necessarily be affected by it. But I think I think elevates Zoom’s offerings in the channel market. It's a natural evolution and partners will benefit from having a more sophisticated program.
He said the other benefit to the agency model was that it gives all types of partners a choice.
“One of the challenges that my model has is the partners that are established as resellers that want to build services. If it is just just a commission model, then they don't really have that opportunity. What this brings is the ability for the partner to be able to provide post-implementation services as part of their overall interaction with the customer. So it means it's the best of both worlds.”
Tele-Sense is a Zoom partner that prefers the agent model and the company’s director Michael Newman told CRN that the most attractive part of the new program for him was the marketing.
“This gives the partners the ability to use the portfolio of tools created by Zoom so that we can market like a large enterprise firm,” he said.
“The tiers will reward the collaboration, the more we learn and the higher we grow. People know the brand and to say we're an expert on the product enhances our brand.
He added that the specialisations would definitely help because focus creates precision.
“Do you go to a proctologist for a sore throat?”
“I think our relationship [with Zoom] is always evolving. We have a great relationship. Helping us market better creates growth paths for us both. We're going to build each other through these new tools.”
Peace of Mind Technology (POMT) head of sales and solutions Greg Phimister said that as a long time Zoom Partner, he was happy to see the vendor delivering even more focus to the partner channel.
“The new partner program further develops the collateral and simplifies the process for us to deploy the full Zoom Suite. We are particularly pleased see Zoom's investment in partner resources. Zoom's focus on demand generation for the channel should present some significant opportunities for partners like us.”
“I think the new tiers will reward partners who have made long term investments into the Zoom ecosystem. Specifically for POMT, it allows us to really push the boundaries on how we partner with Zoom to deliver value for our customers through the use of combined client activity including demonstrations in our experience centre and a partner-led customer success approach.
“The specialisations should help the POMT develop a rounded approach to implementing and supporting Zoom for our customers. Having enhanced knowledge across sales, implementation and support streams within the business will provide an overall benefit to our solution offering
“Ultimately, I believe the changes should be good for POMT. As I mentioned, further focus on improving the partner experience and rewarding partners like us who have strongly invested in Zoom over the last three years should deliver us more leads, more refined solutions, and happy customers."
For eVideo founder Tom Morgan, the most important change is “stratification of the partners”, as it differentiates them based on capability, size and technology focus.
“Partners need to be able to differentiate in the market, but also, Zoom needs to be able to invest with partners in the areas that they want to focus on. As an agent, This will allow us to build services capability around the Zoom offerings. Without specialisations, that wasn't really possible.”
One of Zoom’s major partners, Australian telco Vocus, said in a statement that the vendor had constantly demonstrated its commitment and care to its partners.
“This partner program will provide us with the best tools, support, and services possible, allowing us to better serve our customers,” Vocus head of workplace collaboration Ryan Simpson said.
“We are thrilled to be a part of the Zoom partner ecosystem and can’t wait to reap the benefits of the Zoom Up Partner Program.”
For one of the company’s local distributors, Dicker Data, the partnership plays “a key role" in helping service the increased demand for communication platforms and meeting room deployments, according to the distie’s head of software Pennie Stevens.
“As Zoom’s distributor in Australia, customers look to us for support and expertise, which we will continue to deliver with confidence thanks to the Zoom Up Partner Program. We look forward to the continued success of our partnership and all the benefits this program has to offer," she said in a statement.