Dan Sterling, Windstream (NuVox)

Channel Partners

March 25, 2010

7 Min Read
Dan Sterling, Windstream (NuVox)

Title: Vice President, Dealer Sales
Years in current position: 12
Years with current company: 12
Years in the indirect channel: 17

Past jobs in the indirect channel: Dealer sales support, district dealer manager, district sales director, vice president of marketing.

Annual revenue responsibility: $3.8 million annually in net new revenue

Main channel goal: “We have put major focus to what we’re doing daily, aiming to take our sales approach ‘Back to the Basics.’ This approach includes 10 objectives which make up the whole: doing what we say we’re going to do, selling every day, remembering to fill the ‘sales funnel,’ recruiting new dealers, training dealers, staying in front of dealers, knowing our products, planning for profit, effectively managing our accounts (with the support of the account management team) and having a game plan. We understand that dealers have a choice in who they do business with. So, our primary goal is to always put our dealer and their customers first. If we stay focused on these simple tactics, we are sure to continue to be successful.”

Biggest challenge: “The biggest challenge we face at Windstream is coming up with new ways to retain our talented dealer managers. We just simply don’t want people to leave us! We try to provide as many opportunities for professional growth as possible, including training, events, and some excellent sales incentives developed by our channel marketing manager. We also want the very valuable relationship between dealers and dealer managers to thrive. To do this, we have to stay fresh in our approach in how we market ourselves and our products to dealers. To this extent, staying innovative is certainly a challenge, but it helps to keep our relationships alive and flourishing. We feel that we have done a great job at retaining our talent, but we are consistently faced with creating new opportunities to build a culture that shows people that we’re in this for the long haul.”

What is the importance of the indirect channel to your organization and what do you see as the future for your channel operations? “We know that dealers have a choice with whom they do business. So we’re out there, every day, working harder than our competitors to earn trust and respect from our dealers. This commitment to excellence is felt throughout the company. Before Windstream acquired NuVox, the indirect channel made up nearly 50 percent of the company’s total revenue. In fact, when John Leach (Windstream’s senior vice president of Business Sales and Support) was interviewed by PHONE+ back in November (‘Windstream Plans to Build on NuVox Channel’), he discussed the NuVox dealer channel and how it was an attractive aspect to acquiring NuVox. In the article, John discussed the future of our channel by stating that we’ll be ‘aggressively recruiting where [we] don’t have agents’ and he talked about how NuVox’s ‘existing agents will benefit by being able to sell the Windstream footprint.’ We are certainly happy about the transition to Windstream and know that our future is very bright.”

Why do you consider yourself to be innovative in bringing new ideas to the channel? “We work hard to improve the skill levels of our dealer managers. Through training, events and sales incentives, we are consistently investing in our dealer managers. This investment, over time, has shown an incredible return. Like Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man, we are now ‘better, stronger and faster.’ Our dealer managers are being trained to think for themselves, building on successful techniques we have been using for the past 17 years and creating new ways to deliver our world-class solutions. This investment in our dealer managers will continue to drive the success of the Windstream indirect channel to new and greater levels we never even dreamed of.”

To what extent do you engage in activities to promote or advance the channel? “Internally, we try to make the dealer channel a positive virus that everyone within Windstream understands. When people within the company interact with anyone from the dealer channel, they tend to do things faster. Over time, we have coupled our incredible sense of urgency with our proven credibility. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to make our dealers successful and this has developed a common commitment to our dealers and our customers.”

How do you think our country’s economic downturn has affected the telecom industry, the indirect channel and your company’s channel operations? “We have actually been able to maintain growth because of the world-class products we deliver to our customers. Between MPLS and the growth of our VoIP offering, we are now able to better service larger multi-location accounts. It’s our job to show people how building a flexible, scalable network will increase their return in both the immediate and distant future. This growth has helped us to keep an innovative product set, making customers stay with us.

The economy has helped us to look at things differently, too. Our successful dealers and dealer managers are getting in deeper with prospects, figuring out how they can not only improve their telecom solution, but also their communication method as a whole.

This economy has actually helped us to create relationships where we are true business ‘partners.’ After all, our success is entirely dependent on that of our customers/dealers- and that is what translates to long-term profitability.”

Frequent flyer miles: 550,000
Currently reading: “The Art of Woo,” by Richard Shell
Furthest he’s been from home: Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa
Prized possession: Rhino collection
Biggest fear: Losing

What others are saying about Dan:

“As the head of the Nuvox Dealer Program, Dan has expanded their traditional base of dealers by implementing a true master agent program, built and retained an incredible sales support team and actually grew the channel while going through a merger, which is extremely rare. Dan Sterling is positive energy personified and is going to be a big part of making the Windstream program exceptional.”
— Adam Edwards, President, Telarus Inc., master agent

“Dan Sterling exemplifies what a channel executive should be. Dan has all the qualities that lead to successful dealer sales. He has an extensive knowledge of his products, and he continually motivates not only his team of support staff, but also the dealers on a regular basis. Dan has signed his name, and rightfully so, to the NuVox dealer program in indelible ink. As one of his dealers, I can attest to the fact that our sales are 90 percent NuVox thanks to his leadership and the example that he sets for his employees. His high energy and zest for his company make him completely unforgettable.”
— Amy Freeman, President, Global Communications LLC, master agent

“Nuvox’s channel program remains the most consistent, competitive and channel-focused program in the industry. With 17 years of full-time and dedicated channel experience, Dan Sterling has more proven channel experience than any other competitive channel executive I know of. With Dan’s leadership, Nuvox remains the industry leader.”
— Shay Houser, Black Box Network Services, independent agent

“Dan Sterling deserves this award because he knows the culture and the personalities of the channel as well as anyone in the industry. He got his start in the industry with a very successful group of entrepreneurs at CTG that focused on customer service first and revenue growth from great relationships with some early dealerships in our industry. He works very hard and has an ability to cut through corporate red tape and provisioning issues to get the job done. Dan has no fear when dealing with anyone regardless of their position or title, good or bad someone is going to hear about it, and the issue is soon in everyone’s wake. Dan understands that success is based on what is happening on the streets with the activity and the reputation that a carrier has in the marketplace.”
— Cam Walters, President, ACI Telecom, master agent

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