In an exclusive interview with CRN, Martorano says he plans to take the Nextiva’s channel strategy and sales charge to the “next level” as the UCaaS market explodes from the work at home revolution sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We go head-to-head everyday with RingCentral, 8×8, Vonage, and they have pretty solid solutions, but the Nextiva solution just fits better squarely with the SMB customer,” said Martorano, Nextiva’s new CRO effective today. “It was built with the SMB customer in mind. It has the ability to scale upwards into the enterprise, but one of the differentiating factors with Nextiva is when we build our products, we think about how we can make a difference with the SMB customer. … I do feel like Nextiva has something that Intermedia doesn’t with our NextOS. When you take a look at what we’re bringing to market, this is something special that the channel is going to really embrace.”
Martorano was previously the general manager of U.S. partner sales for Microsoft for more than eight years before becoming CRO for Intermedia in 2016. For the past two years, Martorano was CEO of lifecycle management specialist Accordo Group, which he sold last month to MarketStar.
Martorano is jumping into one of the fastest growing segments in the channel with the COVID-19 pandemic accelerating the need for SMBs to leverage UCaaS more than ever as more employees work from home.
Besides taking on his former employer, Martorano is also throwing down against his former boss at Microsoft – Phil Sorgen – who after 20 years at Microsoft joined RingCentral as its chief revenue officer in May.
“I’m excited to now compete head-to-head against the RingCentrals and the Intermedias of the world,” Martorano said. “My former boss at Microsoft is now the CRO at RingCentral — so it will be a fun competition out there.”
The longtime channel veteran has also held top sales and marketing roles for the likes of Ingram Micro, Vision Solutions and Sage Software over the past 25 years.
Martorano is planning to lead a partner sales charge with Nextiva’s flagship NextOS Platform. The customer experience management platform is an all-in-one communication solution that combines voice, audio, email, chat, text and SMS. The platform’s built-in analysis and automation engine allows customers see how each client feels about a product or business in real time by automatically analyzing phone, email, chat and SMS communications.
“NextOS really takes all communications and puts it into one place,” said Martorano. “It’s a single platform that you can take everything from phones, email, chat, SMS, et cetera, that captures and analyzes all your data, then provides you insights to be more effective in engaging your customers and partners.”
Nextiva NextOS offers channel partners a new UCaaS revenue stream to help customers combat COVID-19 workplace disruptions and drive productivity via better connected communications, according to Martorano.
“For channel partners who don’t have much UCaaS experience or services wrapped around communications, it’s a new opportunity. Nextiva is positioned really well to help those channel partners to leverage the opportunity that’s out there with COVID-19 right now,” he said. “Because with COVID-19 going on, connected communications is critical. Nextiva is positioned extremely well to support the channel in taking advantage of the market demand right now.”
On the channel front, Martorano said he plans to elevate Nextiva’s already “rich compensation channel model” and solution provider sales segment, which represents approximately 50 percent of the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company’s total business. Nextiva received a five-star rating in CRN’s 2020 Partner Program Guide.
“Nextiva has invested quite a bit in developing the channel. It represents close to 50 percent of Nextiva’s business today, but obviously we want to make that significantly more. Bringing in someone one like myself with over 20 years of channel experience, being a systems integrator, being in two-tier distribution, running U.S. channel sales for Microsoft for a number of years – Nextiva is making a bet on the channel by picking me as CRO,” he said. “It’s also a statement on where Nextiva wants to invest by putting someone in this CRO role who understands how to support and help the channel be successful with Nextiva.”
Nextiva’s decision to hire Martorano as chief revenue officer is a channel game changer, said Quy “Q” Nguyen, founder and CEO of Allyance Communications, one of the top global communications solution providers in the country.
“It’s a huge coup for Nextiva to get someone with Eric’s channel experience,” said Nguyen. “This brings instant partner awareness and mind share to Nextiva that would take years to build. Eric is a big deal in the channel. He is very strategic in his approach. He listens to partners, hears what is good and bad about the program and the product, and then he builds a program to allow the channel to succeed.”
Nguyen, who has known Martorano for a decade and has seen his firsthand his impact on partners, said Martorano is a relationship-driven sales leader. “He builds the relationship first, makes sure partners are comfortable, and everything flows from that,” he said.
With the global pandemic driving businesses of all sizes to work from home, UCaaS is the next big channel battle ground, said Nguyen.
“This is the hottest market out there right now,” he said. “It is being adopted at a much faster clip than other major emerging technologies in the past. UCaaS is one of the key ingredients that enables businesses to continue operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The bottom line is that companies will not be able to thrive in the future without a solid UCaaS offering, said Nguyen. “This has become a necessity for every business no matter how big or small. If companies aren’t using some sort of UCaaS solution they are just not going to be able to communicate with their customers, are going to face delays and are just not going to be efficient.”
Martorano touted Nextiva’s recent hiring investments over the past two years in acquiring top notch talent such as Marc Stoll as president and chief operating officer. Prior to Nextiva, Stoll held a slew of top positions including CFO of Anaplan and a five-year stint at Apple as vice president of worldwide sales finance, as well as being a board member for the likes of Arista Networks and Windstream.
Another recent hire was Phil Steitz, who became Nextiva’s chief technology officer last year. Steitz has held CTO roles for the likes of Pegasus Solutions and Edgenuity, as well as the global CTO for American Express from 1998 to 2008.
“Nextiva is investing in leadership to take this company to the next level. We have the right product and visionary,” said Martorano. “Now it’s about executing and bringing this to market. It’s an exciting time for the industry and it’s an exciting time for me and the channel.”
Nguyen said he expects Martorano to drive a channel renaissance at Nextiva. “Eric comes from the channel and knows the channel has deeper and closer relationships with customers than the constantly churning direct sales force,” he said. “Eric understands what works in the channel. Not every company gets that.”