CenturyLink has expanded its global channel partner program to make it easier for North American partners to pursue opportunities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA).
Key elements of the program include dedicated account teams and sales, marketing, development, operational and maintenance support throughout the entire customer life cycle. In addition, the CenturyLink partner portal offers a repository of materials and training, and equips partners with the tools and resources to sell and deliver tailored customer solutions and help grow their business.
Craig Patterson, CenturyLink‘s vice president of indirect sales, tells Channel Partners the indirect channel has developed into a very mature business and “now we’re starting to be pulled into different parts of the globe.”
“When you look at some of our North American partners, they’ve expanded their operations globally,” he said. “Two of our key partners in North America have recently opened operations in the United Kingdom, we’ve got another that recently opened operations down in Asia Pacific – specifically Australia – and we’re also starting to see signs of life as it relates to indirect channels down in Latin America. All these things have really started to pull CenturyLink toward an indirect global expansion.”
In addition, CenturyLink saw many of its indirect partners in North America penetrating very large global accounts, and that presented a few challenges the company had to solve for them, Patterson said.
“For example, Europe’s a very fragmented place; you’ve got 44 different countries, each country has its own culture, language and way of doing things, so it presented a challenge for our North American partners trying to sell into those European countries,” he said. “So we’re looking to solve a lot of those barriers, and the way we’re doing that is launching this two-part strategy.”
The first part is launching a dedicated support structure for all of CenturyLink’s North American partners, Patterson said. So if partners are looking to sell a global opportunity in places like France, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy and Germany, there’s now in-country expertise to assist partners in pursuit of those opportunities, he said.
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“The second part of the strategy is we’re looking to replicate the success we’ve enjoyed here in North America internationally, and we’re going to kick things off first in EMEA, where we’re looking to build out our own indirect strategy,” he said.
In April, CenturyLink launched a new North America partner agreement that includes unified terms and conditions. That provided the foundation for the company’s indirect expansion, Patterson said.
“You can now sign an EMEA addendum, which will give you the ability to pursue indirect opportunity in EMEA,” he said. “It will give you the ability to garner all the support, from a sales engineering and operational perspective, and that will really help the North American partners drive more opportunity.”
In addition, CenturyLink is launching an EMEA-based indirect agreement and “our channel managers will be on the ground in Europe actively looking to recruit new indirect partners for CenturyLink that do not exist today,” Patterson said.
“These will be new, European-based partners that are just starting to emerge, and once they come on board we’ll align them with the arsenal of indirect resources we’ve established in Europe to get those companies off the ground,” he said.
CenturyLink now is investigating Latin America and Asia Pacific, “and those would be kind of our next steps,” Patterson said.
The global partner program is designed to work with a variety of business models, including VARs, direct, master and subagents, SIs, solution providers and consultants.
“Organizations are increasingly seeking providers that can help them transform their businesses through improved operational efficiency, IT agility and security,” said Bart van Aanholt, CenturyLink’s vice president, Continental Europe and MEA sales. “Our expansion in EMEA combines innovative technologies with industry-leading, dedicated channel resources and a focus on providing an exceptional customer experience, to give partners a strong platform for success.”