AT&T Partner Programs Eye Data-Driven Leads, Deal RegistrationAT&T Partner Programs Eye Data-Driven Leads, Deal Registration
Randall Porter this summer took responsibility for sales and partner management in three AT&T channel programs.
October 17, 2022
AT&T and its various channel programs are putting more investments into partner choice and enablement. This comes as the Dallas-based carrier doubles down on core competencies.
That statement comes from Randall Porter, who stepped into the role of AT&T’s indirect channel lead this past summer. Porter, who oversees sales and partner management for the AT&T Partner Exchange, AT&T Alliance Channel and ACC Business programs, said AT&T will continue “leaning in heavily” into the indirect channel. He said the carrier will make updates to its partner portal and deal registration process in the upcoming quarters. He also said AT&T will give partners more intelligent data about potential customers.
“When we talk about leaning in more heavily to our partners, it really comes down to two things: providing them choice and providing enablement,” Porter told Channel Futures.
AT&T’s Randall Porter
Porter three months ago accepted the role of vice president, AT&T channel chief. That came amid a shift that more closely aligned AT&T Partner Exchange, Alliance Channel and ACC Business under Porter’s leadership. He reports to Sarita Rao, senior vice president, integrated and partner solutions at AT&T. Rao oversees those three AT&T channel programs, in addition to the wholesale and hyperscaler groups.
AT&T’s Sarita Rao
Porter said AT&T forecasts an increasing reliance on partners for applications and managed services that complement AT&T’s investments in fiber and 5G.
“Given that opportunity for growth both in new and existing customers with partners, we felt like it was the right decision to pull the entire indirect ecosystem together under Sarita’s leadership,” he said.
AT&T’s different partner programs have historically varied quite significantly. The Alliance Channel carries an association with the agent/advisor channel and teamed selling (although the program recently unveiled a non-teamed track and changed the way it differentiates between subagents and TSDs). ACC Business was historically associated with non-teamed sales and residual commissions. Partner Exchange (APEX) started in 2011 as a resale program for partners providing full management. Moreover, Porter said Alliance and ACC aligned directly with AT&T’s national business markets sales organization, co-selling into a large number of retail customers. Partner Exchange, on the other hand, aligned more closely with wholesale.
However, Porter said AT&T chose to change those alignments as it continued to grow its indirect efforts.
“As we developed a plan for growing indirect overall and ensuring that we had enough leadership and resources behind that to scale with our partners in the market, we chose to combine all of our indirect channels across [Partner Exchange], Alliance, ACC, wholesale and our hyperscalers,” he said.
Poter said new capabilities like deal registration will bolster the partner experience. He said deal registration differs depending on the program.
“The intent of the strategy and capability is to ensure that regardless of your program, you have the ability to register a deal to either work that on your own, down a solo path, or if needed, work it in conjunction with our direct team from a co-sales standpoint. And so the automation and the linkage into your Salesforce systems would all be there to give the capability for that choice for the partner,” he said.
He also said AT&T plans to give partners more granular enablement that involves customer data.
“[We will be] getting a lot more intelligent with our data and our leads – tying that to …
… fiber-lit buildings, and then providing that to the right partners based on their capability, focus and geography,” Porter said.
Porter, a 25-year veteran of AT&T, returned to a channel-centric role this year. After helping Brooks McCorcle launch Partner Exchange more than a decade ago, he ended up taking the reins of the program in 2017. He later moved to a role in direct sales, where he engaged with the Alliance Channel and ACC teams. Most recently, Porter worked in AT&T’s transformation office, engaging in topics of product and portfolio simplification. He said his group’s evaluation of customer-purchasing behaviors reinforced the opportunity AT&T saw around indirect channels.
He said AT&T’s new business plan involved redesigning its partner organization and more closely aligning Alliance, ACC and Partner Exchange under his purview. Will Harvey, formerly vice president of AT&T Business Solutions, moved to vice president of business planning and development for indirect channels.
Porter said resellers in AT&T Partner Exchange look much different in terms of what they sell compared to 11 years ago.
“When we first launched APEX, it was wireline-focused, really all around fiber at the time, including VPN, ADI and Ethernet,” Porter said. “We’ve expanded that to share broadband, wireless broadband and Wi-Fi as well.”
However, Porter said APEX members have embraced wireless.
“We started with CRU, both voice and data. And then as I was leaving, we were just launching into IoT. That business is now growing extremely well, based on the what’s occurring in the market relative to cloud and edge and the move to mobile. Now we’re starting to see even more mobile virtual network operators, as well as mobile-focused IoT companies utilizing the APEX model to provide those solutions for all the different things that we’re seeing in terms of factories, automotive and virtual reality,” Porter said.
AT&T’s recent partner program updates came amid a larger shift at the Dallas-based carrier to double down on its competencies in connectivity. The company last year sold its WarnerMedia division to Discovery for $43 billion, parting ways with an asset it acquired during former CEO Randall Stephenson’s tenure. New CEO John Stankey told shareholders that AT&T was unlocking more value as a broadband company, “focused on investing in 5G and fiber to meet substantial, long-term demand for connectivity.”
And Porter said AT&T channel leaders want to match that new focus.
“It really is about simplification, being easy to do with business and making sure we’ve got the right portfolio that’s built on where we’re investing from a corporate standpoint: fiber and 5G,” he said.
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