In spite of deep management job cuts at Windstream Corp., the top executive overseeing indirect sales stressed the telecommunications company is committed to investing in the channel.
Sometimes, I would think for some partners there may be a misperception of organizations as they change, are they still committed to the channel? I am here to tell you we are absolutely committed to the channel,” said Jeff Howe, who recently assumed the role as Windstream’s channel chief after the company laid off his predecessor Dan Sterling as part of 400 management cuts expected to yield annual savings of $30 million to $40 million.
“We are going to continue to invest in the channel,” Howe told us at the Fall 2012 Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Orlando, Fla. “We are going to continue to provide the resources needed both at the partner level and at the field level whether its an opportunity or whether its adding overlay resources to help them close larger, more complex solution sets, thats our focus. So we are absolutely, firmly committed to the channel.”
Howe said Windstream had been top-heavy on the management and that the job cuts don’t have much of an impact on the channel.
As you really looked at it objectively, we did have too many layers of management and our span of control should have been greater,” he said. So in terms of what it means to the channel, our effect on the channel throughout all this has been very, very limited, very limited.”
As president of business sales for Windstream’s central region, Howe has dual roles. He is responsible for direct and indirect sales in a region with roughly $1 billion in annual revenue.
His primary goals for the channel are twofold: creating a consistent experience at a telecommunications provider that he said has completed nine acquisitions in less than six years, including the $2.3 billion purchase of PAETEC Holding Corp.; and helping partners offer more sophisticated solutions.
“Whether our partner is in Florida or our partner is in Seattle, there is a consistent model, a consistent experience that they feel,” Howe said, explaining one of his objectives. “And as you take a look at Windstream, which is a combination of different acquisitions, that doesnt quite occur yet today. But Im here to say that will be one of our biggest goals to ensure that all of our partners are handled in a consistent manner to help them find opportunities.”
Windstream, based in Little Rock, Ark., also wants to help partners exploit bigger and more complex opportunities, such as selling cloud-based services.
“They may not want to be an expert in the cloud, but if they allow us to get in the door, we would be more than happy to provide them the support and overlay resources and expertise to help them find those elegant solutions for their customers,” said Howe, who has worked in the telecommunications business for close to 20 years, mostly with CLECs.
The largest objective at Windstream, Howe said, is integration of its acquisitions. “We are on schedule at this point in time,” he said.
Howe said the biggest opportunity for Windstream’s channel partners is serving medium- to large-sized customers with multiple locations.
“If I can continue to align our internal resources with the needs of the agents out in the field and help them bring those opportunities to fruition, that is by far the biggest opportunity for all of us in this business,” he said. “What I do know is we have the money, the capital, we have the resources [and] the people to make that happen.”
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