To that point, Intelisys co-founder Rick Dellar said in July that while the master agency supports XO's performance-based program, and new transparency and consistency, it disagrees with not requiring sales goals for the lower tiers. "It sends an inconsistent message about performance and could potentially lead to problems and the lower end of their program, so we encourage them to rethink this decision," he said, explaining that partners in lower tiers use resources regardless of their contribution. "Even if the goals are smaller for lower levels, there should still be goals."
As of press time, XO had not revisited this clause, and did not seem likely to do so because, in McNamara's words, "The better you perform, the more you make."
Finally, underscoring providers' desire to work more synergistically with the channel, CLEC BullsEye Telecom in May changed its terms to allow partners to choose their commission plan on a deal-by-deal basis. In particular, the company wanted to accommodate new agents who need immediate cash flow, and serve IT and telecom VARs accustomed to up-front compensation models. Partners can choose from four payout options, including residual, one-time, upfront and a combination residual/one-time. There also are long-term incentives so agents are rewarded as sales volumes grow. "Partners are not pigeonholed into one compensation methodology," said Tim Basa, BullsEye's vice president of sales.
All in all, recent adjustments to agent agreements, whether spurred by M&A or partners' sway, achieve an overarching aim: elevating the channel past its commodity roots. And when agents negotiate for new carrier contracts, good things happen. "We have ended up lifting the whole channel and the standards for the whole channel, and that is what I think we have seen a lot of over the last few years," Bronston said.
—With reporting from Khali Henderson