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XO Channel Chief: 'Your Business Is Safe'

By Khali Henderson
November 22, 2011 - News

Five months after becoming the channel chief at XO Communications Inc., Shane McNamara, vice president of indirect sales, said the carrier is restructuring its 2012 program to address concerns of its indirect sales partners under a new initiative called "Your Business is Safe with XO."

McNamara, who came to XO after serving as general manager of carrier services for value-added reseller and XO agent CDW, acknowledged that  all but the very largest XO partners are nervous about bringing business to the carrier for fear of termination and subsequent loss of commissions. In 2009, XO terminated the contracts of a number of "underperforming" agents.

"That's going to end. We aren't terminating partners anymore," McNamara told Channel Partners.

Instead, the carrier is taking its Platinum Partner Program out of pilot and expanding it to include Gold and Silver tiers. Partners that reach and maintain $50,000 in billed revenue with XO can become Silver Partners and will receive a contract amendment stating that their agreements will not be terminated.

"To stem the fear and uncertainty, I am drawing a line in the sand," McNamara said. "For partners not at $50K, are we saying we are going to terminate them? No, but we are going to continue to manage to [their current contracts]."

McNamara said agents that can't meet the $50,000 milestone may also have the option of moving under a master agency on an individual case basis.

The Platinum Partner Program (P3) was rolled out in March 2011 by McNamara's predecessor Brian Law to provide upgraded support to 11 of the CLEC’s top indirect sales partners. The pilot program offered dedicated care and repair for end-user customers of the Platinum Partners and dedicated ordering and installation support.

Although P3 is working well, McNamara called it a "Band-Aid." "The problem was we put all of our time and energy and focus on 11 partners; there's a ton of other partners that XO has that didn't get the time and attention that they deserve," he said.

Under the new three-tier system, criteria are being developed for Platinum and Gold status that will include a combination of net sales and churn based on three-year averages. Those criteria were not available at press time. Current Platinum members will maintain their status in 2012.

The major difference between Platinum and Gold is priority status for Platinum Partner customers. Both have dedicated resources (a partner channel manager, local channel managers and a post-sale channel account manager), president's club consideration and MDF. Silver Partners have access to XO's pricing team, online tools and marketing tools.

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