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September 15, 2020 |

RingCentral’s On Fire for SMBs

The vendor’s new IGNITE! partner program is designed to grab a hunk of the enormous, barely penetrated market for UCaaS services.

TO AN OUTSIDER, “”we do the work, you collect a check”” sounds like a pretty good deal.

And for most RingCentral partners most of the time, membership in the company’s Channel Harmony program is a good deal. They bring RingCentral leads. RingCentral closes the deal, takes care of provisioning and implementation, and manages renewals.

“”We literally do everything for the partner,”” says Zane Long (pictured), senior vice president of global partner sales for RingCentral, adding that the unified communications vendor pays the partner a commission too.

The convenience of that leave-it-to-us arrangement is one reason Channel Harmony has attracted over 10,000 members in the four years since its launch. Yet for smaller, simpler deals, some resellers prefer the do-it-yourself approach. “”They want the opportunity to execute quickly,”” Long says.

That’s exactly what RingCentral’s IGNITE! partner program is designed to give them. Introduced in June, the new offering lets qualified partners handle the entire sales process on deals involving up to 400 seats.

“”When a customer says, ‘I want to buy right now,’ that partner can then simply go to that customer and execute the contract,”” Long says.

And they can do so without worrying about the potential for conflict with RingCentral’s sales team, because the company pays its salespeople for partner-led deals even when they have no role in them. “”The direct sales organization will continue to participate in the compensation of that opportunity even though they’re not part of the workflow,”” Long observes.

Partners must join Channel Harmony before entering IGNITE!, moreover, which means they can decide which program to use for each new prospect. If they wish to close a deal right away on their own, they can use the IGNITE! process. “”The next week, if they have another opportunity, they can take a customer through the Channel Harmony process,”” Long notes. “”This gives our partners flexibility with how they would like to work with RingCentral with really very little restriction.””

Untapped Opportunity

The new program has an added payoff for RingCentral itself. Unified communications as a service (UcaaS), the company believes, is a $75 billion opportunity that’s just 12% penetrated at present. Freeing partners to go after SMBs unassisted will help it grab a hunk of that unclaimed spending faster. “”That’s where the greatest volume of customers resides,”” Long observes.

All Channel Harmony members are eligible to join IGNITE!, but must first acquire four certifications. Long says many partners already have three of those, which were available to them previously. A fourth credential that covers “”administrative”” details is specific to the new program, he explains. “”You have to be able to understand the RingCentral customer sales contract, the quoting process, [and] how to get a quote out of the partner portal.””

In exchange for that additional effort, IGNITE! partners earn an extra 0.5x monthly recurring revenue on every deal they complete. “”That would be in addition to the spiffs, of course, that we already pay,”” Long notes.

Other membership benefits include on-call assistance from sales reps, vertical industry experts, sales engineers, and channel managers, as well as access to a fully stocked partner portal.

Just as with Channel Harmony, IGNITE! members who collect a sales professional certification and prominently display their relationship with RingCentral on their website, among other requirements, can earn preferred status in the program. Preferred partners receive exclusive sales incentives, in-depth quarterly performance reporting, sponsorship from a RingCentral executive, and other benefits.

Like its partner program, RingCentral’s product set has been expanding lately too. In April, it gained a video meeting application. A new desktop app for Windows and MacOS with unified messaging, video, and phone functionality followed the next month. “”It’s a very powerful combination,”” Long says.

There’s no shortage of SMBs without UCaaS software to sell it to either. “”We have a long road in front of us,”” Long says. “”With what we’re doing in this program, we’re going to capture even more of the market.””

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