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"We had deep discussions with partners about what we needed to do to preserve the goodness of Masergy, and I'm happy to say we've put it on steroids at this point," Craig Schlagbaum said.
April 13, 2022
Comcast Business is announcing multiple updates to its channel team and strategy as it continues its integration with Masergy.
Comcast last year entered into an agreement to acquire Masergy. The companies have since integrated with one another, creating a combined company that Comcast Business executives say runs a $1 billion channel business. Craig Schlagbaum, who is leading channel efforts for the combined company, laid out a list of changes that include rules of engagement, financial incentives and personnel.
Comcast’s Craig Schlagbaum
Schlagbaum said his team engaged in discussions with partners about what the combined company’s joint channel efforts should look like going forward. Specifically, the Comcast channel team met with partner advisory board members in November to get feedback on integrating with the Masergy channel.
“We had deep discussions with them about what we needed to do to preserve the goodness of Masergy, and I’m happy to say we’ve put it on steroids at this point,” Schlagbaum told Channel Futures.
Comcast Business’ Heather-Violet Minnella
Heather-Violet Minnella, who joined from Lumen in December, is now leading an advanced sales team for Comcast Business. This group will initially support partners selling the Masergy product set, but it will grow to include advanced Comcast solutions like SD-WAN security and UCaaS. Minnella’s team includes two directors and 10 senior partner sales managers. Schlagbaum said Comcast had previously operated a Comcast channel management team, but for the first time it is running a group dedicated to advanced offerings.
Comcast Business’ Cary Tengler
In addition, Comcast has placed its business with technology services distributors (formerly known as master agents) under the purview of Cary Tengler, executive director of national partners. Five TSD directors will be working under Tengler.
Schlagbaum also said Comcast has introduced new teaming rules. For example, partners who teamed with direct to sell Comcast’s ActiveCore software-defined networking platform previously saw a 15% reduction in compensation. Comcast has done away with that reduction for teaming partners selling either ActiveCore or Masergy SD-WAN. That reduction had never existed at Masergy.
“We mirrored the Masergy model, took the goodness of that model and put it on the Comcast side,” Schlagbaum said. In addition, he said partners will benefit from being able to choose which SD-WAN offerings are best for their customers: the Versa-based platform from the Comcast side or the Fortinet-based platform from the Masergy side.
Moreover, Comcast gave Masergy agents the same residual commissions they would get with their agreement for Comcast services. Previously, these partners had been receiving residual commissions of 8-10% on off-net deals.
“Masergy had a legacy perception of being a higher priced product. But now, by driving down their network access costs on our network for on net as well as off-net connectivity providers, we are far more competitively priced today,” said Terry Connell, Comcast Business’ senior vice president of sales and sales operations.
Comcast Business’ Terry Connell
Schlagbaum said Comcast and Masergy complement each other in terms of the deals they typically pursue. Much has been made of how Masergy will bolster Comcast’s international and enterprise opportunities. But on the other hand, he said Comcast will drive a larger frequency of deals.
“The thing about Masergy is that it’s always been more larger opportunities and fewer of them. Typically Masergy would have…… walked past some of those smaller opportunities in the past,” he said. “We’re not walking past them anymore. Whatever the size is, we’re going to be able to focus on it.
Telarus CEO Adam Edwards said Masergy will allow partners to “sell more aggressively” into the mid-market using Comcast’s network.
Telarus’ Adam Edwards
“Mid-enterprise opportunities are significantly different than SMB access transactions and this requires a different approach,” said Edwards, who called Comcast a “best-in-class” channel model. “We’re confident the Comcast channel team will be able to manage both sales and channel motions as a best-in-class supplier.”
Gary Jacobs, vice president of operations and sales programs for Bridgepointe Technologies, agreed.
“The combination of the two companies is a good thing. Both benefit from what the other had to offer which will make them much stronger together. Masergy opens up the international market and a host of solid security and NAS offerings while Comcast offers Masergy the ability to reduce access costs for the delivery of their services. Plus, this will help Masergy further fund the growth of their product set. Customers ultimately benefit because together the companies will offer services that will meet most customer’s needs.”
Bridgepointe’s Gary Jacobs
For now Comcast Business is branding itself at channel events as Comcast Business and Masergy. Schlagbaum said the Masergy brand will eventually sunset into the Comcast Business brand, but that will come later down the road.
“We’re going to combine those two programs and make a best-of-breed, combined program. For now we’re just going to continue it as it was and then merge them together and give you the best of both worlds.”
Comcast is positioning itself as key rival to the largest U.S. ILECs. Schlagbaum said the case could be made that Comcast’s combined channel efforts exceed its service provider peers in terms of revenue and sales. He suggested that the agent landscape will undergo an evolution the VAR community underwent in picking key vendor partners. Whereas resellers aligned themselves with suppliers like Microsoft, Cisco or HP, Schlagbaum said agents may make the same decisions about service providers.
“I think they’re going to have to make some choices in the coming years of who to play with, and we’re obviously setting ourselves up to be one of the key ones,” he said.
Senior News Editor, Channel Futures
James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.
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