You need to put yourself in your partners’ shoes if you want to run a successful channel program, according to Craig Schlagbaum.
The Level 3 and Qwest alumnus led the formation of Comcast’s partner program in 2011 and continues to lead the program. Schlagbaum has worked hard in 2019 to promote his company’s ActiveCore software-defined networking (SDN) platform and encouraged partners to adopt next-generation technologies.
A panel of masters, distributors and analysts picked the Top Gun 51 list, which includes top channel chiefs from the IT/telecom industries.
|Check out our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.|
— Channel Partners (@Channel_Online) September 11, 2019
Schlagbaum fielded questions from us about his company, career and channel program. The answers have been edited for clarity.
Channel Partners: What are your top highlights and achievements from leading Comcast’s channel?
Craig Schlagbaum: The real highlight for me has been building our multimillion-dollar, award-winning channel program from the ground up, with hundreds of partners selling for us on a monthly basis. Further, it is helping mentor, grow and develop my team as leaders. We have an outstanding team with many top channel professionals in operations and sales and marketing who support all our partners nationwide. I remember in the beginning we only had a small team of less than 10 people and just three master agents and a dream. Fast forward to today and those numbers are much larger. It has been a pleasure watching our partners grow their businesses as well as our team’s development.
Moreover, we are fast moving towards a channel world of “everything as a service,” and that revolution is probably the most exciting partner development in the last 10 years for me. Our program, team and Comcast Business are at the epicenter of that major shift towards software and recurring revenue services.
CP: How does Comcast’s approach to the channel differ from the competition?
CS: Our approach to business in this space is “the partner is our customer.” Our program is unique because we always start with the partner experience (Px) in mind, and then design our tools and support systems to improve our overall ease of doing business. We hold ourselves highly accountable using a Net Promoter Scores (NPS), and we use our partner-experience metrics to validate the job we are doing with our partners.
In addition, in a time of uncertainty for some competitors with M&A and more, our program is very stable and consistent with no changes in our channel leadership team for many years. That is not the case with many other programs in the space, so our partners feel confident knowing what to expect from us. We have a significant amount of resources in Denver that support our partners operationally and with their marketing efforts. In addition, we have an entire inside channel sales team that supports the 1000’s of partners we have nationwide along with our field channel sales team.
CP: How did you get into the channel?
CS: I had my own small company out of college making and distributing posters, and I decided that I wanted more stability and a new career track in a very hot and high-growth industry.
My father Paul was a…