Qwest Offers Agents Million-Dollar Bonus

Qwest Communications International Inc. rolled out two new bonus programs, including one with a million-dollar payout, to members of the Qwest Business Partner Program effective July 1.

The two new programs offer short-term and long-term incentives in addition to the existing intermediate, yearlong incentive on annual total billed revenue for partners to align their businesses with Qwest, said QBPP Vice President Blake Wetzel in an interview with PHONE+ Thursday.

The Million-Dollar Bonus program promises $1 million to any agent that grows their business with Qwest by $2 million in the next five years. The program is open to existing agents and new agents that sign with the carrier, but the clock starts July 1. Existing agents have a baseline based on average revenue for the three months that include August, September and October 2009. For simplicity, this baseline maps to the one used for the existing annual TBR bonus program. (That program, by the way, pays a fixed amount for sales above the baseline for the 2010 contract period.)

Wetzel said the intent of the Million-Dollar Bonus is to give agents a level of comfort that Qwest has a long-term commitment to its partner program, but also to incent them to invest in their own businesses.

Its more of a strategic incentive,” Wetzel said. What our hope is is that partners will start evaluating their resources and reinvest in their businesses. This is not something that someone is going to achieve very easily by selling through their normal process. They are going to have to evaluate their business model and we are here to grow with them.”

Because of the five-year timeline, QBPP has added a contingency plan that would kick in should the company change something in the QBPP program the would require a change in the terms of the current agent agreement, said Dale Tucker, QBPPs senior vice president of business development. A case in point might be changes made by a new owner; CenturyTel is securing approvals to purchase Qwest, but the deal is not expect to close until 2011. The contingency also could cover any other strategic changes the company might make to its program that would require a contract change, he said. The contingency plan would pay agents who had reached at least 25 percent of the goal (i.e., $500,000) a prorated amount based on their sales to date.

In addition to the long-term bonus, Qwest initiated a third quarter sales bonus as part of its Summer of Money” campaign. The program pays out a bonus for each month in the quarter  July, August and September  to agents who approach or exceed a baseline monthly sales volume. That baseline was determined by taking the agents average sales for June 2009 through May 2010 minus the top two and bottom two months. Agents earn a percentage of the MRC as follows: 10 percent for achieving 90 percent of the baseline, 25 percent for matching the baseline at 100 percent, 50 percent for exceeding the baseline at 125 percent and 75 percent for exceeding the baseline by 150 percent.

Payment is from dollar one, not just for the percentage of sales above the baseline,” said Tucker.

Wetzel added that due to the short nature of the promo, partners are e-mailed a scorecard which tracks their status in relation to their baseline amount.

Along with the other things that weve recently come out with, including the changes we made to the compensation around local services and creating the third tier [Premier Elite Partner Program], we think we have put in place a good path for partners to feel they can be strategically aligned with Qwest over the next many years,” Wetzel added.

Effective June 1, Qwest rolled back reductions on renewal commissions for in-region local service sales that were put in place with the 2009 agent contract, restoring them to 14 percent. In addition, it added a Premier Elite business partner level that offers a higher commission percentage and greater revenue protections than do the other existing levels, which include Select, Master and Premier, in exchange for a $2.5 million commitment in monthly billed revenue. The Select level was added in March 2007 with a minimum commitment of $50,000 in monthly billed revenue. At that time, Qwest reported that master business partners have a minimum of $100,000 in monthly billed revenue, and premier business partners have a $500,000 in monthly billed revenue minimum.

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