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March 1, 2006
ABOUT 400 AGENTS FOR
Qwest Communications International Inc. came to Denver this week for the companys annual Qwest Business Partner Program meeting, making it the largest gathering to date.
Called QMarketplace, the event features networking and education on the companys products and back-office systems and policies. The meeting also is an opportunity for partners to hear from top executives at the phone company.
CEO Dick Notebaert kicked off the meeting and highlighted Qwests consistent commitment to the channel, particularly as compared with many of its rivals. He said the company has fixed its financial problems and now is able to turn more of its attentions and resources to its customers.
Partners also were introduced to the new executive vice president of the Business Markets Group, Tom Richards. Richards, who has been at Qwest for nine months, replaced Cliff Holtz. Richards said the channel accounts for 20 percent of sales for BMG and said he is an advocate of channel integration. A formal program to share best practices for channel integration among retail sales directors will begin this quarter.
He also is formally classifying the channel as a customer and assigned to it a market manager in much the same way that government accounts have an internal ombudsman.
The new manager, John Gillen, will advocate for the channel and move the channels concerns to the front line, says Jeff Clark, QBPPs vice president.
In an interview after the event, Gillen told PHONE+ his official title is Segment Strategist Partner Channel. One of the first things he will do is evaluate each partner and its strengths in order to better market the partners to the direct sales teams for improved channel integration and to leverage partner skills where Qwest has gaps either geographically or within certain verticals. (Read our Q&A with Gillen on www.csp-network.com. Click on Interview.) Clark said QBPP is launching its first bonus program in a number of years. After a successful midyear test in 2005, a formal program was launched for 2006 that enables partners to earn payouts of $25,000 to $100,000 on year-over-year sales growth.
In addition, QBPP has pushed access to its legacy (regulated) OSS systems to the partners. Premiere master agents were put online in December and other partners are coming online in first quarter. Clark said this is an interim step toward a promised universal interface into the companys back office.
He said that with the financial restructuring completed, Qwest will be able to turn its attentions and capital resources toward a consolidated back office that eventually will be pushed to the channel.
Clark said he is predicting 20 percent year-over-year growth for QBPP.
Qwest Communications International Inc. www.qwest.com
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