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Birch ‘Doubles Down’ on Channel Program Investment

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**Editor’s Note: Click here for our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.**

Birch Communications has drawn down its direct sales channel, and shifted more money and resources into its channel partner program.

Birch's Tony TomaeThe announcement was made Wednesday to its partners via an open letter and a blog by Tony Tomae, Birch’s president and CEO, and Brad Smith, vice president of alternate channels. The change in strategy already has occurred and has been completed in the first quarter.

Tomae tells Channel Partners the company sees an opportunity to invest more into “our partner channel, and to expand the number of dealers and partners that we have, expand our position that we have with the master agents, and also the MSPs.”

“Birch Communications is almost a $600 million company in revenue and we’ve been in this business for quite some time, and our channel partners are very important to us,” he said. “And we made the decision in our company to direct more of our focus and actually double down our commitment to the channel. We’ve been very ingrained in the channel, we’re known very well as a reliable POTS provider and data-services provider to our partners and to our master agents, and also we’ve got a very good reputation for providing a good customer experience. We have other channels in our business. We have outbound telemarketing and we have inside sales and some other groups. But our indirect channel – our alternate channel – is now our largest and highest-profile channel in the company.”{ad}

Birch's Brad SmithBirch will officially roll out a VoIP product and cloud data-center products in the second quarter.

“The other thing that I want to focus on here is that the commitment from our company to the master and indirect agents will be supported by more back-office support,” Tomae said. “So not only will it be supported by adding more reps and sales operation-support people, but we continue to carve out what we call the Birch Platinum Experience. And that is how we handle a customer from the initial sales call all the way through to the turn-up of the service, and when you call into our 800 number and how we support you.”

Smith says the increased emphasis on the channel creates new opportunities for existing and new partners.

“It basically means …

{vpipagebreak}

… we’re going to have more resources at our disposal to reach more partners — more subagents of the masters,” he said. “We’re going to have a better experience with additional staff on the back end, on the provisioning side, and also the front end as far as the pre-sales part.”

The expertise of Birch’s partners has increased “so they’re basically wanting more support,” Smith said.

“We have a support team that’s based down in Emporia, Kansas, and they’re totally dedicated to the channel with everything from initial quotes, paperwork, escalations; it’s a one-stop call, only one call to make to find out anything they want to find out,” he said. “And then we’ve got another, kind of a more sales support layer on top of that … to follow up on all of the leads or quotes that are sent out, to assist the channel managers, and hopefully do that in 48 hours. So we’re definitely pressing the support level and all of our partners have responded greatly to that. And then when we bring in the enterprise-type customer– we’ll call that 10,000 and above – we have a whole other dedicated team that does nothing but cater to that customer … so we try to make it as easy as possible to do business with.”


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