Level 3 Enters 'VAR World' With New Program

By Khali Henderson Comments
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As part of its newly announced channel strategy, Level 3 Communications Inc. is introducing its Solution Provider Partner Program for VARs.

Channel Chief Michael Jerich, vice president of the Level 3 Indirect Channel, told Channel Partners in an advance interview that the new program "is really our entry into the VAR world."

"We've always supported VARs to some degree as traditional telco agents, but we realize not all partners are the same," he said.

Kate Rankin, senior director of media relations for  Level 3, explained in a follow-up interview that VARs, or solutions providers as they are often called, have various business strategies that determine their level of account engagement and preferences about how much account control they want.  As a result, she said they want flexible programs for selling carrier services.

The new Level 3 Partner Program, announced Tuesday, provides several options for VARs, including being a referral partner, a direct agent or a subagent to a direct master agency. A new option with the Solutions Provider Program is co-selling with Level 3's direct sales channel.

"The key difference [with the Solution Provider Program] is that we have created an entirely new team with backgrounds in the IT, VAR and solution provider world to help guide the VARs/solution providers to the appropriate partner program within Level 3," Rankin said.

The team also has deep ties in the local sales geographies to support these partners with go-to-market planning support and on-boarding, Rankin said.

In addition to this dedicated team, the Solution Provider Program shares pre- and post-sales support with the traditional agency Channel Partner Program.

Rankin said VARs that already are part of the Level 3 Channel Partner Program will not be reassigned to the Solution Provider Program. She added that Level 3 expects to see "a natural progression of VARs/solution providers that start with our Referral Program, but then gain confidence and move to either the Solution Provider Program or become a subagent of one of our Elite partners, as an example."

Level 3 declined to disclose the number of VARs presently enrolled in its partner programs. Recruitment goals for VARs were still undetermined at press time. However, Rankin said  a goal for 2013 is "growth through our existing partners, but we also want to make options available to VARs and/or solution providers that are migrating into cloud-services, or other new business models."

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