Capping his first full year as channel chief for Qwest Communications International Inc., Blake Wetzel last week delivered a 2010 report card for Qwest’s Business Partner Program that was by his own admission a departure; instead of the customary graphs slicing and dicing partners’ sales performance, he took a decidedly introspective look at QBPP’s operational performance for its partners.
“We are pretty happy with what we did operationally," Wetzel told more than 300 partners attending its annual partner meeting, Q.Marketplace 2011, held in Denver last week. “We set a good foundation going forward. …We have what we need to grow aggressively."
Wetzel’s focus on operational gains should come as no surprise. Prior to being named vice president of sales for QBPP in August 2009, Wetzel was the carrier’s director of national customer care and sales support for Business Markets Group. Most of his focus there was on making things work. And, making things work better at QBPP was going to be his new job.
“My job was to listen to our partner community to find out what we could do to strengthen ourselves and to continue to advance us as an organization. So, we collectively – Qwest and our partner community – can grow and aggressively grow," Wetzel said in his address.
Wetzel engaged the partners in driving improvements in collaboration with Qwest’s internal teams in part by restructuring the QBPP partner advisory council to include three subgroups covering got-to-market, technology (product and road map) and operations.
“We wanted to fix what you said we needed to fix. We have adapted our program on that feedback. … I am excited about what we were able to accomplish in 2010," Wetzel said.
QBPP Ben Humphreys, president and CEO of agency Comtel Communications and vice chairman of the Agent Alliance, a buying consortium of 17 agencies, told Channel Partners that Wetzel “did what he said he was going to do." This statement echoes Wetzel’s promise to agents when he took the job and again in his 2011 address: “I have a fundamental principle: I do what I say I am going to do."
Wetzel said partners were most concerned about improving relationships with Qwest’s direct sales force in support of Qwest’s channel integration strategy. He said the company began by understanding why the relationships were breaking down and worked to rebuild trust between the organizations, in part by improving communications and by aligning decision-making between both direct and indirect. “The level of issues that we have have dropped dramatically because we are working together," he said.