New Masergy CEO looks to double down on channel

Masergy has been expanding its efforts with IT-based partners as well as traditional telco ones over the last year, and new CEO James Parker wants to intensify both, while also getting a higher percentage of partners to be very highly engaged.

James Parker, Masergy’s CEO

Two months ago, Dallas-based managed networking and cloud services provider Masergy announced the hiring of James Parker as their CEO. Parker came from Tata Communications, where as Chief Customer Officer he held a wide responsibility over sales, marketing, service management, delivery, and communications. Parker came to Masergy because he believes that their software-defined networking platform is particularly well suited to deliver the digital transformation solutions that customers increasingly desire. Accordingly, he sees both an expanded channel and a better enabled channel as critical elements of that strategy.

“We see huge market opportunity in all the market segments we play in, including SD-WAN, UCaaS, Contact Center and Security,” Parker said. “We are enjoying taking away market share from our large global competitors in the space as well as the smaller niche providers who might be able to offer just one of the services we do. Our best years are yet to come and the channel is a huge part of our growth strategy.”

Masergy has had a hybrid go-to-market strategy historically, with the channel business in recent years fluctuating between 70 and 80 per cent. Currently it is over 75 per cent, Parker indicated.

“We have consistently maintained a 15- 20 per cent year-over-year increase in channel bookings over the past several years,” Parker said. “Billy Madison was promoted to the VP of Global Channels role a year ago, and has really accelerated channel growth since taking up this role.”

Masergy has a relatively large channel of several hundred partners, which historically has been dominated by telco-focused partners and consultants using the master distributor model. More recently, they have seen an increase in the number of MSPs and VARs who have shown interest in Masergy, and enlisting and empowering those has been a priority in the past year. Parker said that going forward, they want to expand their traditional base, penetrate deeper into new types of partners, and leverage their strategic partnerships more fully, particularly their relationship with Cisco.

“We want to get deeper with our existing channel partners,” Parker said. This includes a programmatic emphasis, including joint business planning and account mapping, upsell and cross-sell programs, certified training programs, increased channel incentives, increased channel support and resource personnel and more analytics-driven channel segmentation. It also involves getting partners to immerse themselves more deeply in Masergy, so that they are able to consistently provide the same high level of customer experience that Masergy does, as measured by the Net Promoter Score [NPS] metric.

“We have always been known for providing an  industry-best customer experience, with a NPS of 70, compared with the industry average of 21,” Parker said. “We are now making a concerted effort to extend that same high-touch experience to our channel partners.”

Parker indicated that Masergy uses analytics to measure partners’ level of awareness of Masergy and correlate it with the partners NPS. Not surprisingly, they find a high correlation between deeply committed partners and happy customers.

“We segment partners into five stages,” he said. ‘Not Aware’ partners have little knowledge of Masergy ‘Engaged’ partners show more interest, while ‘Activated’ partners get training and certification and use partner benefits. ‘Deepened’ partners, the fourth stage, do joint business development, and ‘Protect’ partners, the final stage, experience repeatable success with Masergy.

“The NPS of our Deepened and Protect partners who are repeat sellers and advocates of Masergy is 90,” Parker noted.

Expanding the relationship with Cisco and their channel around UCaaS and Cloud Contact Center is a priority.

“We are one of the few Cisco Elite partners and Cisco is introducing us to their customers who want to move their business communications and contact centers from on-premise to the cloud,” Parker said. “They are also helping us foster relationships with their VARs.”

Finally, Masergy is looking to expand the new alternative channels that have begun to emerge.

“Alternative channels we are working on include larger System Integrators and security resellers targeted for our Managed Security Service,” Parker said.