Windstream Plans Further Enhancements to Partner Program

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CHANNEL PARTNERS CONFERENCE & EXPO — Windstream (Booth 833 and a Signature Sponsor) on Tuesday announced plans for enhancements to its channel partner program following its merger with EarthLink earlier this year.

Windstream's Jeff Howe (left) and Olen ScottThe announcement was made during this week’s Channel Partners Conference & Expo. Windstream also is showing how customers are using SD-WAN to enhance their connectivity with remote sites.

In February, Windstream named EarthLink’s Olen Scott as the combined company’s new channel chief. He tells Channel Partners the organizational structure of the partner program already has changed.

“We were originally running it under separate regional presidents throughout the country, and we’ve collapsed the entire organization under one leadership structure,” he said, “We’ve already begun to see some benefit just from a synchronization of work effort. We have 200 people specifically dedicated to the channel. That’s a massive investment. Bringing it under one shop will drive a lot of significant benefit to the channel.”

Windstream has added dedicated sales engineering team members located across the company’s service areas, and a consolidated service-order coordinator and channel advocate programs aimed at ensuring more focused and responsive sales-support functions, including quoting, partner support and order entry/processing.{ad}

Increased emphasis also is being placed on Windstream’s partner portal, Scott said.

“The idea is we want to take it and push some of the more transactional stuff to the portal so that our partners can get quotes in 60 seconds if they want, or get a quote at 11 p.m.,” he said.

Jeff Howe, Windstream’s executive vice president of enterprise sales, said Windstream’s channel strategy is aimed at providing more support for partners and targeting the midmarket, “which is where Windstream can win.” Strategic products have been developed that partners can use to go after the midmarket, he said.

“When you take a look at Windstream, it’s really a combination of eight or nine major acquisitions, and with EarthLink it’s 10, so you’ve got all these partners out there and a lot of them weren’t truly aligned in the direction that we want to take the business,” he said. “So what we ended up doing was …


… working on identifying those partners that we deem to be strategic, that (are) absolutely aligned with our strategy. The number of channel managers ratio to partners is very small. That means the strategic partners are going to have more access to our resources. That’s made a big difference as well.”

Windstream is placing more emphasis on evangelizing the three areas where it “crushes,” including distributed enterprise-retail, SD-WAN and UCaaS with integrated contact center capabilities, Scott said.{ad}

“That message has already been tremendously well-received by our partners because what they want to know is where do we win together, where do we go to market,” he said.

“In this period of great transition for the channel, we are enthusiastic about the new Windstream channel organization,” said Rick Ribas, Intelisys’ senior vice president of the East Region. “Significant efforts on the part of Windstream to redesign its channel efforts have not gone unnoticed. As a major partner of both EarthLink and Windstream, we at Intelisys are excited to see positive outcomes for our channel community as a result of this merger, and we are optimistic about the future opportunities.”

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