“We have taken a step back and looked at every facet of the partner experience – from the portal to pricing to compensation … and are rolling out a more holistic approach,” said Craig Butrym, group vice president of government services, indirect channel and inside sales for Global Crossing. Butrym joined the company in February and runs the channel along with Mike Jerich, vice president of channels, who came aboard May 1.
Butrym said the company, prompted by feedback from its agents, is working to align its support with its partners’ business models. With that in mind, the new partner program includes newly structured partner levels – platinum, gold and silver – as well as new selling tools and a newly designed partner extranet.
Jerich also is evaluating allocation of sales support personnel. The carrier has more than 30 people dedicated to the channel; Jerich said there may be additions, but he is looking first at “maximizing the talent” already on board.
Jerich said the new partner tiers are a result of a recognition that Global Crossing has different types of partners – master agents, VARs/SIs, smaller direct agents, etc. – that have different needs. “Depending on the revenue commitments, there will be different resources that will be allocated” in terms of sales support, marketing and MDF, Jerich said. For example, partner and channel support will be dedicated at the platinum level.
Ian Kieninger, general manager for carrier sales at CDW, a Global Crossing agent, said the new support model is straightforward. “This may be oversimplifying, but the more you sell, the more support you are going to get – and that is how any program should be built,” he said.
In addition, Butrym said enhancements to the portal and self-service tools will improve service to the partners while taking some burden off the staff.
Among the new selling tools are “Battlecards,” which give partners pertinent information they need (e.g., qualifying questions, features and benefits, and competitive positioning) to sell the carrier’s solutions.
The revamped partner extranet includes new navigation and access to maps, calendars, collateral, offers and promos, and a proposal generator. It also includes a consolidated “Tool Kit” featuring the quarterly updated “fact book,” service availability maps, consolidated product matrix, and a newsletter that will debut later this month.
Along with these changes, the company is in the process of normalizing the disparate partner contracts that were put in place by various channel heads, so they are consistent across tiers, Jerich said.
Global Crossing executives declined to comment on changes to the compensation plan except to say they will be “postalized” by tier. Partners, however, told PHONE+ the plan has been reduced from previous levels, but they reported the cuts were more moderate than first proposed.
Jay Bradley, president of Intelisys Telecom Services, one of Global Crossing’s top performers, said based on advance information it was provided about the comp plan, the master agency can continue to be successful. “We want them to be healthy,” he said, noting the concern that the carrier continue to operate profitably.
Bill Power, CEO of the Agent Alliance, which has an agency contract for its 17 member companies, was one of several partners – along with Bradley and Kieninger – who met with Butrym and other Global Crossing executives in March to provide input on Global Crossing’s partner program. “The purpose was to work through and advise them on what they need to do on compensation levels and support. It was a productive, daylong session. I came away with the feeling they heard us,” he said. “The changes in the compensation reflect that and help restore confidence in the program. But the proof will be the level of nurturing and support they offer going forward,” he said.
While the Alliance is looking for improved support for its member companies, Bradley said Intelisys has had a consistent level of support and said Global Crossing is one of the master agent’s top carriers.