Following the release of its business-class VoIP services, Time Warner Cable Business Class officially will launch its nationwide agent channel program March 10 at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo in Las Vegas. World Telecom Group, a master agency based in California, is among the first to sign up.
The new program will target national master agents like WTG with subagents focusing on SMB customers that are prospects for the companys business-class broadband access, VoIP and video offers. It also will look for agents that specialize in selling enterprise broadband, including metro Ethernet and dedicated IP services, which are a company specialty.
Time Warner Cable Business Class is a division of Time Warner Cable, founded in 1998. The company operates in 31 states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
“Our announcement here is really to announce a national channel strategy, which will allow channel partners to ubiquitously deploy Time Warner Cable Business Class services across our markets. It will have one set of price points and one set of products and so forth,” says Brian Snortheim, director of marketing, alternate channels, for the company.
The cable company has been working with alternate sales channels for a number of years, but those included primarily broadband aggregators like MegaPath Inc. and New Edge Networks, which rebranded and resold the companies cable access services, and agents only in select regions, such as the Carolinas and Texas, say organizers.
Vince Bradley, president and CEO of WTG, says he is excited about representing Time Warner Cable Business Class. “We wanted to do a deal with them for years, but they always had a regional program,” he says, noting that was limiting for his nationwide customers. Previously, WTG had used broadband aggregators to source Time Warner Cables network for its VPN customers. Since signing a direct contract at the end of January, WTG already has closed a few small deals that were in the pipeline as of mid-February. “Our sales funnel is huge,” he added.
Snortheim and Greg Iuzzolino, director of sales, alternate channels, have been tapped to lead the effort. They will be backed by a dedicated staff, including channel managers and support personnel, at corporate and regional offices in the Carolinas, New York and Texas.
Creating a national program is a significant step for a cable company, which traditionally operates in a distributed way. Ken Fitzpatrick, senior vice president, business services, for Time Warner Cable Business Class, told PHONE+ the move was spurred by interest in growing its penetration among businesses, especially sales of its VoIP services. Previous success of indirect sales efforts in the Carolinas proved the model. “I think this is a logical progression for Time Warner Cable,” Fitzpatrick said. “It allows us to continue to drive the awareness in the markets, build revenue and leverage additional resources that are there that our competitors might be leveraging today. We want to be able to do in a better way and outperform in that space.”
He added that creating and indirect sales channel is one of several levers the company can pull to grow its business. The others are adding products to sell into customers in its existing coverage areas and expanding Time Warner Cables addressable market by extending its network to more buildings and getting into the wholesale carrier space. “It makes sense to leverage existing relationships that are in place with our potential partners and be able to build more awareness of the Business Class brand in the markets we serve,” he said.
Time Warner Cable is investing in systems to support the new channel. “We are looking to launch a myriad of best-in-class tools,” says Snortheim, noting this includes a secure Web portal, online training, co-marketing and market development funds.
Agents will be classified into two tiers premier and gold based on commitment levels. Details about compensation and incentives were not available at press time.