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

Skinned Elbow

… incredibly receptive because, quite frankly, they know where the marketplace is headed. So they look at the key differentiators in our cloud SD-WAN solution, they look at our full stack of UCaaS — and that’s attractive to them. And by the end of next month, we’re going to have a single-pane-of-glass dashboard where you’ll be able to manage your UCaaS solution, your SD-WAN solution and you’re underlying network. So that’s super attractive to everybody. Where the hesitancy has been is with partners who do have large legacy bases that still are a little stung from some of the decisions we made, so with those folks we’ve just got to explain, “Hey, we’re now committed more than ever to our obligation to care for those customers.” And we’re showing them by measuring what we do in all those performance metrics around the business. They’re now seeing, and what we’ve heard over and over this week is that [they’re] seeing the results. In a lot of cases they’re saying, “We don’t think you’re where you need to be, but relative to your competitors, you’re doing pretty [well].” And when we share the details … 90 percent of the partners who are here are seeing the positive change in results. They may have an area where they say, “Hey, we need to fix this,” but the proof is in the puddling.

We had a tremendous first quarter; our channel hit our numbers for the first time in a long time, so the results are there. The number gets bigger and bigger as we plan to grow this thing.

CP: Sounds like you’ve already accomplished a lot, but there’s still a long way to go.

CA: I’ve said we need to take this channel and make it 3x, and we’re nudging up against 2x, and that next leap, 50 percent growth, that’s going to be a challenge. A lot of that will be how we handle and care for all of those businesses that sold in [the first quarter]. But I’m very happy about where we are progress-wise, and very happy about the response. Layne Levine (president of Windstream Enterprise and Wholesale) is here [at the Channel Partners Conference & Expo], our CFO Bob Gunderman is here, and our CMO Joe Harding’s here. So the commitment’s there and it’s well received.

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