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Top Gun 51 Profile: WOW Business’ Ray Potts on Successful Channel Leadership

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Ray Potts, channel chief at WOW Business, has a 23-year history of channel leadership inside a wide range of companies.

He’s done it all when it comes to the channel. Potts has worked for Vocalocity, Airespring, Reignmaker Communications and Intelliverse. He has worked in the channel for Verso, Voicecom and Cypress Communications. And his first channel gig? It was with Cable & Wireless back in 1997.

Ray Potts of WOW

WOW’s Ray Potts

It’s how he built a 23-year career of channel leadership. He joined WOW, the cable, internet and phone company, in 2015, and he has worked to bolster the company’s channel presence.

That’s the kind of leadership that earned Potts’ selection as a Channel Partners Top Gun 51 award winner for 2020. The award recognizes channel executives who are driving partner success for their companies. There were three criteria considered in selecting this year’s group: advocacy for the channel; commitment to partners’ business success; and dedication to earning the channel’s trust.

WOW’s Ray Potts is part of Channel Partners/Channel Futures’ 2020 Top Gun 51. This program recognizes today’s channel executives who build and execute channel programs that drive partner, customer and supplier success. See the full list.

Potts recently shared his channel career success story with Channel Partners and discussed his approach to helping his company excel.

Channel Partners: You’ve had quite a career in the channel since your first job at Cable & Wireless in 1997. How did those experiences prepare you for your current job at WOW?

Ray Potts: My entire career has been in the channel. I’ve been at WOW for five years, and we started the channel program from scratch. When I started here, the channel program was in its infancy. They had a direct sales force and no indirect sales. Today, we have a lean team of dedicated channel managers who work hard to provide good services to our partners. Our partners include lots of IT consultants, and we also have agreements with master agents around the world. We also work with many of their partners, too.

CP: What job did WOW originally hire you to do?

RP: I was brought in to be a channel manager. Later, in 2019, I ended up replacing the channel chief who was here. I had worked previously at other companies as a channel chief, so it was not unfamiliar. I had done that at Reignmaker, Intelliverse and Verso.

CP: Have you implemented any major changes to the channel program since you took over as channel chief at WOW Business?

RP: The changes have been more about adjustments, some minor changes, but nothing dramatic. I added two inside channel managers who help support their partners.

CP: Can you talk about your impressions and thoughts about channel leadership in the industry?

RP: I have a team of seven people working with me. For my team, I have the same core principles I’ve had throughout my career. Have integrity in all our dealings, create value, respect the people around you and be responsible and results-oriented. Those core values haven’t changed.

CP: Where did those words of wisdom come from?

RP: I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really great CEOs to work with over the years. I’ve been like a sponge, trying to take a little bit of wisdom from each of them.

CP: Diversity and the fight against racism has become a more important topic in business and our nation in 2020. Where do see the role of the channel and business in this societal fight?

RP: I’m really proud of our company because we have taken an active role against racism. As part of that, we now offer paid time off to employees who want to be part of peaceful protests. The company made a commitment to be an agent for positive change.

CP: COVID-19 has changed everyone’s world since March. How has it affected the channel operations for WOW Business?

RP: Due to COVID-19, we’ve worked with lots of customers on things they need to do to adjust. That includes downgrades, service suspensions and whatever helps them get through this situation.

We are in work-from-home mode too. The channel relationships with our customers continue through Zoom conference calls or phone calls. I’m proud of the channel. We haven’t missed a beat. We had a rough stretch in March, but since then we’ve done very well the last three months.

CP: What’s the status of your company’s channel partner program today?

RP: We’re still growing it. I’m happy with the team we have right now, but it’s a work in progress and we’re still growing it.


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