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Windstream Channel Successfully Patching ‘Skinned Elbows’ from Past SMB Decisions

Skinned Elbow

Windstream‘s channel chief has been on the job now for five months and has spent much of that time working to restore partners’ faith in the company’s commitment to the channel, particularly its legacy partner base.

Curt Allen took over as Windstream’s channel chief, replacing Olen Scott, who nabbed the position in February of last year after Windstream completed its acquisition of EarthLink. He previously was president of X4 Solutions, the master agent that was acquired by fellow master agent Sandler Partners, and became Sandler’s president of channel before leaving last September.

Windstream's Curt Allen at CP Expo

Windstream’s Curt Allen at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 19.

At last week’s Channel Partners Conference and Expo, Windstream Enterprise unveiled its new “Our Size Fits You” campaign for partners, adding master agent TBI to its National Partner Program, enhancing TBI’s portfolio of cloud, collaboration, connectivity, data center, mobility, networking and voice providers.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Allen talks about the goal behind “Our Size Fits You,” what he’s done to strengthen Windstream’s commitment to the channel and his plans moving forward.

Channel Partners: What’s the goal of the “Our Size Fits You” partner campaign?

Curt Allen: That’s a promotional program that we created that’s basically designed to induce our partners that haven’t worked with us or have worked with us in the past – but have gone inactive for whatever reason – to come back to us. The phrase stems from the messaging since I came on. Coming from the master-agent side, at X4 I represented 100 carriers, and you had AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink at one end, and the local cablecos on the other, and there were all these plays in the middle that the agile CLECs did … With the collapse of the CLEC marketplace in all those acquisitions and mergers, there [are] really not a lot of faces in that middle spot, and I feel like our business fits in that spot … as that agile provider to help your customers move to SD-WAN and UCaaS right there between AT&T and Verizon, and the local cablecos.

And secondarily, we sit right there as a financial hedge from a commissions perspective. We’re a company that has paid legacy residual commissions forever and we’ve always been committed to that model, and so … we again sit right between AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink and those local cablecos as a perfect fit financially for your business. So that’s where the Our Size Fits You stemmed from.

The actual campaign is a 5x spiff on our strategic products – SD-WAN, UCaaS, distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) mitigation – for partners who either have never worked with us, or haven’t worked with us in about a year or are minimally active, and that goes all the way even to subagents … We’re selling newer applications so we want to kind of grease the skids for you to give you financial inducement to come back and give us a try.

CP: Has that been an issue, with partners not working with Windstream or going dormant?

CA: Absolutely. The decisions that we made back in 2015, which were necessary at the time, where we kind of walked away from the SMB marketplace, certainly weren’t well received by the channel. And I was in the channel at the time and it was difficult. But now due to the acquisitions we’ve made since, through buying EarthLink and Broadview Networks, [those] gave us …

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