IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Zoom Is Calling

Skyrocketing adoption of its growing product family has the video communications leader eagerly recruiting partners. By Rich Freeman

SPEND ANY TIME on Zoom lately?

Come to think of it, who hasn’t spent time on Zoom lately? Fueled by exploding adoption of videoconferencing software amid the spread of COVID-19, Zoom’s sales soared 326% last year and they’re still climbing.

That’s not all that’s up, either. The company’s partner base has grown roughly 10x since the coronavirus arrived. “COVID completely accelerated our channel business,” says Laura Padilla (pictured), Zoom’s head of global business development and channel.

The company is investing heavily in its partner program to sustain that momentum. In just the last 18 months, it’s hired an extensive team of partner account managers, a partner success team tasked with keeping partners growing, and an inside channel team that participates in demos and sales calls. Lead-generation campaigns roll out quarterly, and partners now have access to market development funds, an online learning academy, and a revamped portal.

All of that, according to Padilla, is designed to expand a channel that gained thousands of members during the pandemic. “We’re definitely in recruit mode,” she says.

Emphasizing channel is a departure for Zoom, which has largely sold direct or self-serve in its short history. “We’ve shifted our model company-wise to be much more engaged with partners,” says Padilla. That’s thanks in part to end-user demand. “Our customers are asking for more partner involvement,” she notes.

In addition, Zoom’s portfolio has expanded beyond the video meeting system it’s best known for into voice services via Zoom Phone and audiovisual solutions via Zoom Rooms. The company launched a virtual event platform in July, and its recent acquisition of contact center software maker Five9 suggests yet another offering is on the way soon.

Channel pros have multiple options for profiting from those developments, the simplest of which is to become a referral partner. Those who work directly with Zoom receive a one-time reward for every approved lead they submit, plus a second payout if the customer upgrades within 12 months of subscribing. Those who sign on with authorized master agents like AVANT and Telarus receive ongoing commissions for the life of the customer relationship.

Reseller partners get a minimum 15% volume-based discount on Zoom licenses, plus an extra 10% on registered deals. In return, they must complete a selection of sales and technical training courses. Certified integrators, who help deploy Zoom Phone and Zoom Rooms, must complete more rigorous training, pass design tests, and maintain a consistent track record of meeting customer expectations. Though the company won’t share margin with them, it will promote them to sales prospects and feed them leads.

There are no tiers for partners to qualify for at present, but a program update is coming soon. “We’re really going to make sure that partners feel rewarded for the investment that they put into Zoom,” Padilla hints.

About the Author

Rich Freeman's picture

Rich Freeman is ChannelPro's Executive Editor

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