CHANNEL PARTNERS U.S. cable companies with a growing interest in targeting the business market are reporting growth and success in their channel programs.
Among all of Cablevisions sales channels, the agent program has proved to be the stickiest” with the greatest retention levels, said Joe Magliulo, Cablevisions director of strategic sales, at a keynote roundtable Wednesday afternoon during the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Chicago.
David Neely, director of channel sales and national accounts for Charter Communications, said his companys relatively nascent channel program has grown rapidly.”
Senior management basically saw the opportunity to expand the relationship base the direct sales force was not connecting with,” Neely said. I think the future is very very promising for all of us and all of you.”
But the relationship between cablecos and channel partners isnt without its hiccups.
Theres some processes we need to work better with you on,” Neely said.
Cable companies say they have made inroads improving issues surrounding service availability by, for example, including portals for agents to check on the availability of service. But one audience member an apparent channel partner who has worked with the cable industry said he found service availability to be highly inaccurate. Its clear, however, that more agents are considering partnering with cable providers.
Khali Henderson, editor-in-chief of Channel Partners magazine, reported that one in six agents in a survey said cable would account for at least 30 percent of revenues by 2015. When asked why they were adding cable services, channel partners cited as their top answer lower price, cost savings or value to the customer, Henderson said. Some other popular reasons cited for adding cable services included customer bandwidth/speed requirements and competition/losing business/portfolio diversification.
Channel partners still perceive cable companies as backup providers not the primary communications company serving a business.
I think its pretty reflective of myself, Charter and the newness of the cable companies being in the agent community,” Neely said when he and other cable executives were asked to react to the perception of cable operators as backup providers.
Once we iron out some of our back office and service delivery issues I think its a matter of building trust with the agent community,” he said. Were not quite there yet.”
Neely said Charter is moving toward enabling agents to draft their own contracts under a decision that would allow the channel partner to become much more nimble.”
Were trying not to perceive ourselves as cable companies,” Neely added. Were trying to become a communications company and get rid of that label.”
The cable companies also said they are collaborating with each other to support their channel programs.
We want to share best practices,” said Craig Schlagbaum, vice president of indirect sales channels for Comcast Business Services.
Thats not a huge surprise the cable companies generally operate in separate territories and enjoy the benefit of not having to compete against one another.