TWCBC Focused on ‘Key Wins’ Through Ingram Micro VARs

Time Warner Cable Business Class and Ingram Micro Inc. are "getting organized" as they prepare to introduce the distributor’s VARs to selling voice and data services as part of their cloud practices.

Ingram Micro announced at its annual Cloud Summit last month that it has started a network services unit, and signed TWCBC and CenturyLink as its first suppliers. For TWCBC, in particular, the partnership heralds a big jump into the IT world. And, this week, key members of TWCBC’s channel team were in Southern California to get in motion the processes that will enable VARs to start targeting SMBs with coax services.

"We’ve just barely begun," said Jim Delis, vice president of national sales. Right now, Ingram and TWCBC "are getting organized at the corporate level," he said.

To do that, Brian Snortheim, director of indirect channel marketing, presented marketing information, while Greg Iuzzolino, senior director of partner sales, took Ingram Micro through the channel manager network, "so they understand how many resources they’ve got in the field," Delis said.

The next step is to educate VARs about matters including sales operations, customer talking points and order protocols, so they can start selling TWCBC network services.

"That will be a joint effort," Snortheim said. "We will probably lead with a lot of the content. We have a pretty substantial training program in place today that we use for more traditional telecom sales agents that will be augmented for this audience."

The ultimate goal is to allow Ingram Micro VARs to offer all of TWCBC’s products. However, for the first quarter or two, TWCBC wants VARs to focus on coax services for SMBs .

"We want to make sure we have some key wins…then move up-market," said Snortheim.

Iuzzolino agreed.

"The strategic thinking there is our core set of products is on the SMB side."

After that, Ethernet, fiber, voice, PRI and other products will come into greater play as more organizations move to the cloud.

There are "thousands of VARs out there selling services, cloud solutions," said Iuzzolino. "They absolutely need the broadband piece to get to the cloud."

But TWCBC expects adoption among Ingram Micro VARs to take some time.

"We’ve got a plan of attack," Delis said. "We just don’t know yet how big the effort will be to get this community comfortable."

Indeed, this marks a new venture for TWCBC, even though it has worked with VARs for several years. But in that time, much of the interaction has come through master agents, with whom resellers have teamed as subagents, or on a wholesale basis.

Ingram Micro initiated talks on this new arrangement. Earlier this year, the distributor called TWCBC, which showed immediate interest.

"There’s a lot of conversation about VARs in the channel space and the growth of the IT solution provider community," Delis said. "You don’t have to be a thought leader anymore to know how important that is."

Setting up the agreement only took about three months a quick time "from an introduction to an announcement," said Delis.

For now, the likelihood that TWCBC will forge similar deals in 2013 look slim. TWCBC has had some larger distributors on its target list for some time. However, many seem "content and happy" to work through a master agent, Delis said, and TWCBC so far doesn’t have much traction with the rest.

"We’re going to focus on Ingram Micro and make sure it works," said Delis. "As we get into 2014, we’re going to want to see some tremendous success and try it again."

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