New Global Crossing Channel Exec Wants Face Time

Face time with the channel is the prevailing strategy for Charles Murray, the new vice president of indirect channels for Global Crossing Ltd.

Global Crossing’s Charles Murray

In mid-April, Murray filled the post just a week after it was vacated by Jeff Callahan, who left the post after only a year on the job. Callahan’s departure was just the latest in a string of exits among Global Crossing channel team.

The leadership changes have caused partners to question the carrier’s commitment to the channel. Murray, previously the vice president of sales engineering and an 18-year veteran of Global Crossing, said he has no plans to go anywhere and “the company has seen the indirect business as vital to our success.”

A statement from Dan Wagner, executive vice president of enterprise sales, echoes this sentiment: “Global Crossing’s channel partner program is an important part of the company’s overall sales structure. Our master agents and sales agents are a key part of our work with channel partners to reach global enterprises.”

In a conversation with PHONE+ in mid-June, less than 60 days after he took the reins, Murray was long on such assurances and short on details about how Global Crossing was going to prove its commitment. His focus initially is on meeting with the partners, personally visiting them in their offices and getting them in front of the senior leadership. To do the latter, Murray organized a two-day forum at the end of June. Twenty agents attended and provided feedback to Murray and three Global Crossing executives, including Wagner; Gary Breauninger, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and Dan Enright, executive vice president of operations.

Jay Bradley, president of telecom services for master agency Intelisys, said the big takeaway from the meeting was that the senior leadership team was out in force and that they are getting engaged with the channel.

Despite the fire power in the room, agents said the execs were not making pronouncements or demands. “This was more of a listening session for them instead of laying out their 100-day plan. …I am very encouraged by their willingness to listen to us about feedback,” said Bill Power, CEO of the Agent Alliance, a buying consortium of agents that has a group contract with the carrier. While optimistic, Power said Global Crossing has some work to do. “It all boils down to their commitment and demonstrating they will be there for the long haul.”

Some agents attending the meeting described it as an “a-ha” moment for Global Crossing’s leadership team, which had not attended a formal partner meeting in the past and have been viewed as out of touch with the channel.

Indeed, Murray said the big takeaway for Global Crossing’s leadership team was an understanding that the channel serves more than just small and midsize businesses. “In the dialogue with us, they demonstrated the wider cross-section of companies they do business with – ranging from small to medium to Fortune 500. Therefore, their needs are no different than any other sales channel so to speak. I think that message resonates,” Murray said.

To get an even more granular view of the agents businesses, Murray is looking for more face time. He and other Global Crossing executives, such as Wagner, Enright and Breauninger, will be traveling to visit partners where they work in an effort to better understand their business models and their needs. The tour was planned to kick off in mid-July.

“At first, it’s to better understand their business and then to see whether there are specific programs that can be developed for specific agents, so to speak,” he said. “Are there ways to use our marketing dollars more efficiently instead of promotions that are one-size-fits-all? Those are some of the things that we are trying to better understand.”

Bradley confirmed this as a primary message. “They need to get creative in the types of programs they roll out to drive behavior,” he said.

Other agents, like Power, said the problems were more fundamental. He said the product set is good, but support has been spotty. “Shoring that up is the primary focus,” he said.

Bradley said the carrier has done a good job for Intelisys over the past 12-18 months. “I got the sense that a majority of the agents were satisfied or very satisfied,” he added.

The differences in viewpoints might be due to the dual nature of the event. Held at the Wild Dunes Resort in Charleston, S.C., the event doubled as a president’s club for some of the invited agents, including Intelisys.

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