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Agents Respond to Changes in Verizon Partner Program

Former MCI solutions partners who are now part of the Verizon Solutions Partner Program (VSPP), following the Bell companys acquisition of the No. 2 longdistance carrier, expressed disappointment with announced changes to the program effective Jan. 1, 2007. One Midwest-based master agent, who spoke on background, says the policies represented a dark day for the channel.

Verizon had a huge opportunity to really dominate by taking advantage of the MCI program. Theyve absolutely squandered it, says the Midwest agent and former MCI Solutions Partner, following the April 25 conference call, one of two meetings Verizon Communications Inc. held regarding the structure of the merged program, which now falls under Verizons Business Solutions Group. In particular, this agent, points to the exclusivity clause, which in practice disqualifies master agents, which by definition, aggregate multiple providers for their subagents and their end-user customers.

In addition, a West Coast master agent who also attended an earlier March meeting says the residual commission structure will be changed to be 25 percent upfront and 75 percent recurring. And, renewals will be subject to a lower commission rate.

This, says the Midwest agent, is counter to the agency model of building up residual revenue streams. He predicts there will be a huge sucking sound when agents start moving their customers away from Verizon.

The West Coast agent agrees. I dont know how they are going to get people to agree to it, the agent says.

Jim Smith, a spokesman for Verizon, told PHONE+ the company would not comment on specific details of the proposed plan, which is not expected to be finalized until September. Between now and then, he says the company will be speaking to agents one on one about the proposal. We are in the next phase, which is, Lets talk individually. Whats good about it? Whats bad about it? What would work better for you? But we will end up with a single plan at the back end.

He concedes the compromises made so far between the two pre-merger agent programs have impacted former MCI Solutions Partners. Their plan had different compensation programs, processes and percentages than whats on the table now. And, some of them are apparently trying to influence the outcome of the final plan in the press, he says. Thats not someplace we are going to go.

Links
Verizon Solutions Partner Program www22.verizon.com/businessportal/electronicsales/unprotected/vspp/home.aspx

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