There are two things that Mario DeRiggi wants Vonage channel marketing partners to know: First, Vonage isn't the same company it was 10 years ago. Once known for its consumer-facing internet phone services, Vonage has evolved into a unified communications provider with a sophisticated enterprise cloud technology stack. Second, as Vonage continues to grow and innovate, channel partners have become an increasingly valuable part of the company's go-to-market strategy.
That's why Vonage brought DeRiggi on board last fall as the new senior vice president of national channel sales and operations. Six months into the job, he has already created a more structured channel program, more consistent messaging, and more robust training and support for Vonage channel marketing partners.
What's next on his to-do list? How is DeRiggi leveraging his deep industry expertise to help channel partners earn greater revenue through Vonage? And what can channel partners expect in 2019 and beyond? Here's what DeRiggi had to say.
Experience Meets Innovation
Hiring DeRiggi is proof of Vonage's strong commitment to the channel partner program. He has 25 years of experience building sales channels and programs for major B2B telecom companies. Most recently, he worked for a leading tech company, where he led sales for UCaaS, cloud, and managed services.
Simply put: DeRiggi understands the technology, and he knows how to help channel partners sell it.
As DeRiggi put it, "What I bring to this role is really a top-down commitment to driving the partner relationships within Vonage, a consistent and simplistic approach to how we work with our partners, and long-term experience on structure and enablement programs that make it easier for our partners to do business with us." With DeRiggi at the helm, the channel partners program has made major strides.
Evolution of the Channel Partners Program
DeRiggi's first order of business has been to develop consistent messaging for channel partners, and then get that information in front of new and existing partners.
"Now we have a channel plan and a go-to-market strategy around channel integration and teaming with direct," DeRiggi explained. "We have much more structured roles and responsibilities for the channel managers around enablement. And we have a robust onboarding process with informational videos and demos that help partners understand who Vonage is, what our products are, our go-to-market strategy, and how we provide ongoing training and support for applications for their customers."
Channel partners can access all this content in the new Partner Portal, which includes a growing catalog of training and enablement resources.
"The focus this year is going to be around enablement," said DeRiggi. "How do we make it easier for our partners to understand where Vonage is a good fit for their customers, and which products in our ever-growing technology stack would best meet their customers' needs? In the past, we've had really inconsistent messaging. If you ask four different partners, 'Why Vonage?', you get four different answers."
The newly launched onboarding process is a great opportunity to brief new channel partners, but what about existing partners and potential partners? To get them up to speed, DeRiggi and his team are leading a national partner roadshow.
"We're going out and bringing 40 to 60 partners together in each city to explain 'Why Vonage?' and discuss who we are today as a company. During these roadshows, I get a lot of feedback from people saying, 'Wow, I didn't know you did that.' We want them to know what our technology can do."
So what can the technology do?
"We control what happens to our technology stack, and we control the experience that our partners and customers have with that technology stack."
Far Beyond UC
Vonage has grown up a lot in recent years, and so has its unified communications platform, thanks to strategic acquisitions. In 2016, Vonage purchased Nexmo and introduced a full suite of communications APIs for deep integration and automation. Then last fall, the company acquired NewVoiceMedia and its robust contact center platform.
"Over the last few years, Vonage has made a concerted effort to own the technology stack so we can own the development road map for what we deliver to our end users," said DeRiggi. "Most buying decisions going forward will be made based on the customer experience. By owning that technology stack, we can bring a product suite and functionality to our partners and end users not only faster than our competitors, but in a way that provides a better user experience."
Helping channel partners understand how all this technology works together, and why it's a competitive advantage for Vonage and partners, is a major talking point for DeRiggi during the roadshow.
"The vast majority of our competitors do not own their technology stacks," he said. "They may own the UC platform, but they white label the video meetings, the contact center, and the API platform. They're just repackaging somebody else's platform, so they don't control the feature functionality or road map for those applications. We control what happens to our technology stack, and we control the experience that our partners and customers have with that technology stack."
In fact, DeRiggi said the technology is what attracted him to Vonage Business in the first place. "When I was looking for my next opportunity, I wanted to work for a company that has a truly differentiated product but is also innovative and disruptive. When I look at the technology stack at Vonage, and how we can go out and meet our partners' customers' business needs, there's nobody else in the industry, I feel, that has our industry-leading technology and can really change the experience that customers have when migrating to a cloud technology. And that's really exciting to me."