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T-Mobile Shakes Up Partner Compensation, Changes Leadership

The carrier wants to "eliminate friction" between direct and indirect sales.

James Anderson

October 5, 2020

4 Min Read
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T-Mobile has retooled how its indirect partners fit within the T-Mobile for Business division, announcing changes in compensation, marketing resources and leadership.

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T-Mobile’s James Kirby

T-Mobile and Sprint officially came together this past spring after a long consolidation process. The combined company last month announced a bigger investment in the channel and is now introducing more updates.

“We’ve pivoted the strategy and made a lot of changes in the last couple of weeks … in terms of trying to drive some new direction,” said James Kirby, senior vice president of T-Mobile Business.

Now Kirby will oversee both direct and indirect sales. He said the change will spark a more collaborative relationship between the two parties.

“Now we have one sales leader who can eliminate the friction between our two businesses,” he said.

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Tim Acker

Tim Acker, who served as channel chief of T-Mobile for Business, no longer works for the company. T-Mobile declined to comment on his departure. Acker also did not comment when we reached out to him.

Compensation Changes Address Channel Conflict

But T-Mobile is driving collaboration through more means than personnel changes. The company has shifted its compensation structure for both direct and indirect members of T-Mobile for Business.

Here’s our most recent list of important channel-program changes you should know.

The carrier is doubling the quota and payout for direct and indirect, thus encouraging one side to bring the other side into customer deals.

“Before this change in compensation, our indirect team and direct team competed against each other,” Kirby said. “Both teams actually carried a quota that was independent.”

But now enlisting a partner’s help won’t count against the direct rep’s quota, and vice versa.

“We built a structure so that when a partner rep finds an opportunity, they want to bring direct in, because both are going to benefit from that sale,” Kirby said. “In the past, that wouldn’t happen. Either you or I get credit for that. By having that friction, it really didn’t drive collaboration between the two groups.”

In addition, T-Mobile is also giving partners the chance to pick their compensation model. They can earn more upfront money or more residual earnings.

“Everybody has a difference in what their needs are. Do you want more comp upfront, or do you want more longevity?” Kirby said. “For us, it’s got to be win-win-win, and that hasn’t happened in the past. And I think providing flexibility and letting partners choose their compensation plans should drive a lot more excitement.”

The new compensation plans take effect Nov. 1.

New Resources and Initiatives

T-Mobile will offer two prepackaged marketing development fund (MDF) opportunities for partners. The two programs revolve around search engine optimization (SEO) and social selling, respectively. Applications for the MDFs close Oct. 15, according to Amy Rintamaki, T-Mobile’s director of partner programs and alliances.

T-Mobile also is launching its first partner advisory council. Moreover, Janet Schijns and the JS Group, are consulting for the partner program.

“We want to bring some of the experts in the partner channel in to work with us and help guide us in what success is going to look like,” Kirby said.

Wireless and Wireline

T-Mobile will also roll out new fixed wireless plans for partners.

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T-Mobile’s Amy Rintamaki

“The channel partners are experts in that space, and we’re excited that T-Mobile has got a really competitive offer in the market. And we know that partners are going to help lead in those sales and those efforts,” Rintamaki said.

Executives noted the wireline opportunities that have arisen for T-Mobile following the Sprint acquisition. Kirby said T-Mobile functioned as a pure wireless player while Sprint boasted …

… a ‘significantly established” wireline practice.

Cross-selling opportunities abound.

“There are a lot of enterprise businesses today that have a relationship with the Sprint wireline business – now our wireline business – that don’t buy wireless from us. So for us, it’s been a huge opportunity for us to bring in the wireless side and start driving more of a relationship on the wireless side from wireline partners,” he said.

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T-Mobile’s Paul Spencer

Executives told us last month that T-Mobile has significantly increased its number of sales and engineering channel experts.

Here’s our list of channel people on the move in September.

“We’ve doubled down on the headcount in the channel, which I think is a massive investment on our part,” said Paul Spencer, whom T-Mobile recently promoted to director of channel partner sales.

Kirby said the various changes reflect the desire to fine-tune the partner experience within T-Mobile for Business. Moreover, the changes ensure a seat at the table for partners.

“We want to align a culture with our partners that looks like the way we treat our employees and customers,” Kirby said.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

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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