ACC Business, the AT&T alternative brand for the channel, is celebrating its 20th anniversary on the heels of increased investment from AT&T.
The two groups were competitors when AT&T bought ACC in 1998.
“ACC Business was the underdog — the small scrappy organization in juxtaposition with the established Fortune 10 company,” ACC President and CEO J.D. Baker wrote in a blog. “But through this competition, we saw tremendous opportunity for collaboration. There was no denying AT&T’s industry leadership and the company’s ability to propel our business forward.”
ACC over the years has carved out its own niche within AT&T’s partner community. The organization, which officially came under the AT&T Partner Solutions umbrella last fall, offers its own platform for quoting, contracting and billing. Baker says strategy gives solution providers a sense of ownership.
“When they sell to a customer, they assume responsibility for that relationship over the full life cycle. They aren’t rewarded for the initial sale but rather for maintaining, nurturing and growing the relationship over time,” he said.
AT&T Partner Solutions Senior Vice President and Channel Chief Zee Hussain told us last year that many partner prefer the brand for its ease of doing business.
“Partners really rave about simplicity of experience with ACC,” Hussain said. “They talk about the fact that ACC is completely focused on the solution providers. There’s a lot of momentum in that business, and they want us to keep investing in ACC.”
And AT&T has followed through on the investment, increasing the ACC channel sales force by 50 percent. Baker tells Channel Partners that his group has been able to increase its market coverage and roll out a new partner portal in the last year. He says the expansion is not meant to take focus away from how it “plays very strong” in the master agent space and earns high marks for customer experience.
“The question is, how do you take that model and scale it?” he said.
Nine master agents were billing $1 million monthly for ACC at last check. One of those companies is ACS Cloud Partners, a Los Angeles-based firm serving 700 active agents. President Eric Asquino tells Channel Partners that ACS was a direct agent for AT&T’s Alliance Channel before an acquisition brought it into the ACC fold. ACS no longer uses sales reps, despite using them for the first several years of its existence.
Asquino says his company prefers to work through ACC, citing its ease of doing business and J.D. Baker’s leadership.
AT&T channel leadership has repeatedly emphasized in the last year the corporation’s growing validation of indirect sales. Baker says realignment of AT&T’s three channels under AT&T Partner Solutions “is a fundamental change in philosophy.
“Historically, AT&T has been a ‘direct sales first’ company. We might not flip this on its head, but indirect channels are gaining momentum with big growth and commitment from AT&T,” he said. “And our solution providers are taking notice. This is the single most exciting development as I envision the next 20 years of ACC Business and carry these key learning lessons forward.”