ALMOST A YEAR into his job of developing a channel program for Ooma Inc., a VoIP company based in Palo Alto, Calif., Pushpa Wijewardena, head of channel development, says hundreds of partners have signed up. There’s a simple reason why too, he adds: The company’s cloud-based phone system has been helping resellers and managed service providers establish net new client relationships.
“We’re finding that when channel partners talk to customers, they are actually getting the time of day because they’re offering a value proposition to drive costs down and increase profitability,” Wijewardena says. “Some VARs are finding that Ooma opened doors for them to get into the account.” Once they’re in, Wijewardena adds, they are viewed as a true business partner, “because they’re getting the cost down for their [customers’] business.”
Indeed, according to Wijewardena, customers who use Ooma often become champions for the solution. “They’ll tell everyone in the building about your product” and the partner that installed it, he says.
Price, call quality, and service help account for that enthusiasm, Wijewardena continues, as well as the fact that end customers are not locked into a contract.
“The biggest complaint [with VoIP] is call quality, so we work hard to make sure call quality stays consistently high,” he says. “We tell VARs to try it out, and if they don’t like it we’ll take it back. When customers come to our platform they realize the quality and the value proposition, and they stay with us.” He adds, “With Ooma [partners] know they’ll have good service.”
Ooma, a public company founded in 2004, has roots in the consumer market. Four years ago, it launched Ooma Office for small businesses, which includes mobile, cloud, analog, and IP services. The company recently expanded its smart communications platform, initially available for up to 20 users, to hundreds of users.
Two Ways to Partner
Currently there are two ways to partner with Ooma. A Tier 2 partner simply refers a lead to Ooma’s sales team. If that customer makes a purchase the referring partner receives a commission, but no ongoing residual payment, Wijewardena says.
A registered Tier 1 partner buys from Ooma or one of Ooma’s preferred distributors and installs the product at the customer site. After three monthly billing cycles the partner receives a commission of four times monthly recurring revenue (based on number of extensions sold at $19.95 each), plus 5 percent residual payments for the next 10 years. In addition, partners receive 25 percent off retail hardware pricing, continues Wijewardena, who says Ooma is looking to add levels within Tier 1, based on number of extensions, going forward.
Ooma also provides Tier 1 partners a portal where they can submit and track commission and residual payments, plus access a digital library of marketing campaign and branding material; sales and technical training; and a dedicated partner support line. In addition, approved VARs who complete training prerequisites receive priority tech support and have direct access to a dedicated account manager who can walk them through ordering and special pricing.
“We can also do customer site visits to help the VAR sell the engagement. Or if they’re doing a seminar we try to help them out. We are here to support our VARs to be successful,” Wijewardena says. Ooma offers required training via live webinars and can deliver courses on premises for large VARs as well, Wijewardena notes.
Wijewardena says the ideal reseller partner is “someone who wants a lot of commission, and who wants to add value to the end customer for the long term.”
Looking ahead, Ooma’s goal is to collect at least 50 percent of revenue from partners. “We’re putting a lot of emphasis on the channel,” Wijewardena says.