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

Skinned Elbow

… the product sets to be efficient in that marketplace. So we’re back; we want your SMB up through your enterprise today. But certainly there [are] still some skinned knees and bruised elbows from the decisions back then, so we fully recognize that we have to do some things. I made a huge commitment to care for our legacy base while we migrate to these more advanced solutions. We’re publishing a report card every month that shows our improvement hopefully, and when we slip back, we publish that too. Our influencer forum gave us a list of things from a service-delivery standpoint that they thought we should improve at … and we measure those every month and publish those for our partner base to continue to improve on that side. So we’re inducing you to come to us because of the things we’re moving to, and to let us guide you to SD-WAN and UCaaS solutions, but we’re recognizing that we’ve got to do a better job of caring for those legacy customers.

CP: Also, TBI has been added to your national partner program. What’s the significance of that?

CA: Our national partner program is designed primarily for those large two-tier master agents that maybe exist in a marketplace, like TBI in Chicago, but they have partners all over the country. We have a group of partner-development directors headed by Michael Brennan – so there’s another layer of sales management that’s strategic with that national partner – and then they also have access to local channel managers in the marketplace, so wherever their subagents reside, we’ll align with them. There’s a national partner help desk that’s an extra level of support for that master agent to go to someone who can quarterback to our organization and get things done. So to have TBI, and a few weeks back we added PlanetOne and became a premier partner for them — to have two of the largest long-term master agents turn and say, “Hey, we think Windstream’s on the right track and we’re committed to doing business with them,” we think that will make a significant impact.

CP: You took over as Windstream’s channel chief last November. It sounds like you’ve been very busy since then.

CA: It kind of mirrors that path that the business has taken. My rear end’s been attached to an airplane seat the entire time, and it’s getting out and talking to all of these partners about what we really want to be. If we go out and tell the partner community, “Hey, come back to us,” and their expectation is this is PaeTec 2.0, they’re going to be disappointed. But if we can go out and explain to them that while we’re going to continue to honor our obligation and focus, and put resources toward that legacy base – that this is where our business is headed – and if you look at where our business is headed, it’s no coincidence; it mirrors where the marketplace is headed, so let’s partner together. So I’ve spent most of my time changing hearts and minds about what we are and what we want to be, and aligning with partners that way, and then doing that same thing internally. I’ve done significant work realigning skill sets within our organization. The business unit from top to bottom doesn’t look anything like it looked a year ago.

CP: Has it been tough to convince these partners that Windstream is changing, and has new and different things to offer?

CA: It has. It’s a hybrid scenario. So the partners who don’t have a large legacy base with us, those folks have been …

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