Zane Long has been at the helm of Cbeyond’s indirect channel program since April of this year, and he’s spent the past few months making some changes. For example, in August, he helped institute a Swat Team Cloud Services program for certain agents. The Swat Team was training that took place in the provider’s 14 markets and covered products, process, configuration and pricing. The goal was to certify participating agents to ensure they’re proficient in selling cloud services. Long’s ideas come from his 11 years’ experience in the channel — and 20 in telecom overall — working for companies including Focal, Broadwing, Level 3 and GENBAND, an IP equipment vendor.
Channel Partners: How will your equipment background, specifically, impact how you approach your new role?
Zane Long: When launching new products, such as the cloud services product line, it is essential to deliver a simplified training process to our core agent base, enabling them to quickly understand how to identify potential customers. In the last four years, I created and launched a global partner program that enabled VARs around the world to sell, support and install complex products and services, including DPI, session border controllers and media gateways. We will use channel best practices to ensure consistent growth for Cbeyond.
CP: How have you changed the Cbeyond Agent Channel program since you took over, and why?
ZL: The channel program has been given a new focus. We have recently re-written and simplified the agent agreements and now have four categories of agents – Master, VIP, Core and Standard. The master agent program in particular is new to Cbeyond and is made up of a very exclusive group of nationally recognized master agents in the telecom industry. We are choosing master agents based on extensive reviews of their capabilities, and we have determined that they are best positioned to add tremendous value to Cbeyond.
In addition, we are very focused on training for our new products, which include PRI, MPLS and cloud services. We have also recently implemented bi-monthly training webinars for all products and processes for each.
CP: How many agents does Cbeyond have and how do you expect those numbers to change in the next 12 months?
ZL: Currently, we have a large number of referral partner-type agents (e.g., phone vendors, consultants, etc.). We have just launched our new agent agreements … and seek to add several regional and national agents to our program over the next couple of months.