In PCR’s September/October 20 issue we talk to NFON UK’s UK channel director, Jon Dailey on why communication is key and how being a ‘disruptor’ when aligning partner programs makes for good business agility
What is your background and how have you adapted since joining NFON as UK channel director in 2017?
I joined NFON in 2017. I sit under the UK MD, Myles Leach and am responsible for developing and growing our channel program. I have been working in comms for over 30 years, and within the channel for 25 years, where I have worked in all verticals, from reseller right through to vendor. I have been working in senior management for 10+ years now.
NFON’s UK division has experienced tremendous growth in the last three years. We now have over 50 UK staff, split between our Manchester and London offices, and I work between the offices – albeit I am predominately based in the north.
Our growth has been fueled by strong partnerships and an industry-leading partner program, which is focused on encouraging and rewarding success. Partners can expect a partnership that is tailor-made for their company. Dedicated inbound and outbound marketing support, access to MDF, Face-to-face and online training (with professional certification), co-defined remuneration schemes, special pricing and best in class marketing support all come as standard.
My focus is on ensuring that we maintain delivery of our industry-leading channel program and that we don’t just talk the talk, but that we can actively evidence how we are helping our partners grow their businesses. One way I personally achieve this is by joining my team in strategic partner meetings to actively listen to what they are experiencing and need – you have no idea how valuable just listening can be. I then use feedback to make enhancements.
The product team also reports into me, which means I am very busy working with hardware partners to ensure we have the best portfolio and deals available for our partners.
What Improvements have been made to the partner program to enhance rewards for partners?
Firstly, it’s important to note that we have a channel only model. We are not confused on whether we are a direct or channel vendor, because we know that our valued partners should never go head to head against us as the vendor in any opportunity. That is why we operate an indirect only model here in the UK, giving our partners peace of mind that NFON is here to support you and not compete against you.
Secondly, we understand the foundation of a program must be on enabling partners to grow their business. That’s why we offer industry-leading revenues. NFON’s reoccurring revenues are significantly above industry standard and, as long as the customer is live on the platform, our partners will earn monthly revenues. It’s a simple formula – our partner earns a premium margin from the first sale and the more they sell, the higher your margins. They then earn on-going revenue for each user.
We also have a rewards program called ‘NJoy,’ which gives points for demos and sales. These points can then be redeemed for prizes, which include everything from an iPad to a holiday. It’s very generous and we run lots of specials where points are doubled etc. on a special product etc.
Everything at NFON is geared to let partners ‘have it their way.’ Partner needs are the focus of our flexible partner programs. NFON’s cloud telephone system, Cloudya, is not only easy to use and reliable, it is also independent, which means partners aren’t locked into an ecosystem that takes away their control. We know that many vendors try and take control from partners – to control the relationship with the end user. We believe our partners deserve to have both the choice and autonomy over how they want to work.
What is your strategy for delivering customised support for your partner’s?
Whatever our partners challenge or opportunity may be, our dedicated teams are on-hand to provide the support and expertise that partners need. We provide business planning for the partners, we provide quality qualified leads, demo support from our Pre-sales teams who are hands on for start to finish, we can look to offer sales funding, sales incentives and business rewards along with bid support to help partners drive sales.
We also have a second to none marketing department, who offer a wide range of co-brandable collateral. They work closely with our partners to build a marketing plan to target key verticals and support activity through MDF. As part of the program, partners will receive qualified end user leads and much more.
We also have an ‘NFON Academy,’ which is our centre of learning that provides online modular sales and technical training courses. This enables our partners to have correct skillsets and certifications to help them drive sales and support their valuable customers. This can all be delivered online, but for partners that have large teams and prefer onsite, face-to-face training, then we are always happy to accommodate.
How you are driving new partnerships?
With the pandemic, our immediate priority has been working closely with our existing partners to help them on their road to recovery and make sure they make the most of the opportunities that arise. We believe that vendor partners need to ensure that they are partners as much as possible and it has been important to live by these values.
However, despite these strange and difficult times, we have continued our growth trajetory. We are now actively recruiting new partners. We are not focused on a particular sector as we have seen huge success across an array of specialties.
A commonality we see across partners is that the ones that are most successful are the ones that understand that NFON is a disrupter. As a more agile business, who owns and runs its own technology, NFON is in an excellent place to be an innovative disrupter in the field of business communications.
NFON offers a wide variety of businesses the opportunity to get involved with cloud telephony with all features and advantages, rather than focusing exclusively on traditional UC providers.
The classic communications resellers sometimes struggle when it comes to getting their heads around the agility of the new cloud environment. However, a lot of smaller brands and IT partner resellers can easily integrate this new offering into their product portfolio. The fact is, resellers go for the strategy that’s easy, and NFON is trying to give them that. We’re doing commission sales, Wholesale, and more, which means that we can give partners whatever they need. NFON is even exploring the possibilities of the master agent model, by taking over billing and other tasks that their partners don’t want to deal with on their behalf.
We can give our resellers that simplicity when it comes to building their go-to-market strategy. NFON differs from the crowd with its offerings because the company has never stuck to the specific.
NFON already gets a lot of positive feedback from its partners for the disruptive experiences that they offer, and the business wants to keep building on this growth going forward. We want to increase our sales channel, but we don’t want to oversaturate it and give our partners too much competition in the same areas.
How will the increase in demand for flexible working be a key driver of growth for both partners and NFON?
End users are making purchasing decisions on what they feel is important to their business right now. Technologies that enable and streamline remote working are crucial, so the market demand is high. As we look ahead and adjust to a new working model, we believe businesses will continue to invest in technologies that will enable them to implement smarter working practices and have a more agile workforce.
The fact is businesses had to adopt new technologies to be able to work remotely in a much shorter time frame than could have been imagined. They should definitely be looking at their communication strategy to ensure they have a plan should this happen again and also to optimise the customer experience.
We see huge opportunities across a number of markets, across SME to enterprise, to vertical sectors. In terms of products, we believe the contact centre market is one to watch. Customer experience has never been more important, and many businesses don’t have the technology to support multiple customer contact channels.
Ultimately our products help businesses communicate and collaborate, wherever they are; so, they have been fundamental in helping businesses during this difficult time. Our recently launched Teams integration, Nvoice for Microsoft Teams, is going down a storm as it’s providing a true enterprise voice solution – with a host of intelligent telephony features – within the familiar Microsoft environment, accessible from any location and any device. Its enabled better collaboration and improved productivity.
Read the latest edition of PCR’s monthly magazine below: