July 13, 2011
Sean Lloyd has been at the helm of Lightyear Network Solutions channel program since early May, when he replaced Kevin Parker, who left for another, non-telecom job. Lloyd came to Lightyear, the Kentucky-based CLEC, with nearly 20 years experience in telecommunications. Lloyd oversees Lightyears agent, direct and retail channels. He also arrived as a new CEO, Stephen Lochmueller, replaced long-time Lightyear head Sherman Henderson, and as the company seeks to make some financial changes that please investors. It may help that much of Lloyds background stems from the wireless sector he has worked for carriers including Cingular, Nextel Communications and Cricket Communications. That kind of experience likely will prove key for Lightyear, which serves as an MVNO through Sprint Nextel Corp. With Lloyd now in place as Lightyears vice president of sales for about three months, Channel Partners wanted to find out more about his plans for partners. The following is an edited transcript of that interview.
Channel Partners: What is your previous channel experience?
Sean Lloyd: I am very familiar with it, having worked with the agent model in one form or another during my 19 years in the telecom industry.
CP: Youre in charge of both the direct and indirect sales channels at Lightyear. How will you handle any channel conflict that arises?
SL: Simply stated, we would handle any conflict with care and on an individual case basis. We are committed to the agent partner channel, and we have been since we first opened our doors for business; our agent program was one of the first in the telecom industry. We would work to resolve any dispute or conflict in a fair and equitable manner for both parties.
CP: How will your wireless background, specifically, impact how you approach your new role?
SL: Obviously, the wireless industry is exploding. Our goal is to capitalize on that growth, with our agents playing a key role. The wireline industry seems to be just as competitive as the wireless industry that Ive just come from, but I believe my experience helping others succeed and grow their businesses will translate well to our existing and new agent partners.
CP: How do Lightyear agents need to adjust to wireless sales, and how do you plan to be part of that transformation?
SL: We view wireless as a complementary but very important product and another offering that will drive revenue for our agent partners. If they havent started selling wireless, they should because they are missing out on potentially significant revenue streams. There is no doubt that their customers are relying on wireless solutions increasingly more, especially as the features and functionality of handsets and smartphones continue to improve.
CP: How have you changed the Lightyear agent program since you took over, and why?
SL: Our overall goals remain the same: grow organic sales. I have charged our agent support team and our sales directors to be fully engaged with our agent partners, to reach out to them more often, to work with them more closely, to visit them more often. We stand ready to join them on customer-facing appointments to lend our expertise and help them close those opportunities.
CP: In September 2010, Lightyear had about 200 agents. How have those numbers changed in the intervening months, and why?
SL: We still have close to that number of agents, and we are always looking to add high-quality, high-performing partners who share our vision and are hungry to succeed.
CP: How many agents would you like to add?
SL: We dont want to add agent partners just to add them. We want to join forces with agent partners who are interested in a true partnership with Lightyear, who share our vision and see the importance of the Lightyear brand, our value proposition, back-office support and the years of experience Lightyear has in this industry and with this channel.
CP: What are your goals for the Lightyear channel program over the next 12 months?
SL: Again, we want to strengthen our relationships with our existing agent partners, add new ones when we can and focus on business customers to ramp up revenue with our Lightyear Mobile services, our core offerings and new products such as hosted VoIP. Considering the recent changes that Lightyear has made to become a more efficient and focused company, it is truly an exciting time to be a Lightyear agent partner now.
SL: We will continue to tweak and improve our online agent portal, and well offer some lucrative third- and fourth-quarter promotions. Also, we are exploring the possibility of holding a few regional agent summits around the country, so stay tuned.
CP: Looking through the last half of 2011 and into 2012, what products strike you as particularly hot for partners to be selling?
SL: VoIP products including dynamic T1 and hosted VoIP and mobile solutions for business customers seem to be hot now, especially as they continue to gain market acceptance and agents see the revenue that can be made selling those.
CP: What are the biggest challenges facing partners the rest of this year and in 2012?
SL: The biggest challenges for our partners are probably the same we all face. Succeeding involves staying focused, staying positive and working efficiently in this current economic environment. Offering the latest and newest product set is important, but agents can set themselves apart from the rest by following up and following through with their customers and prospects, maintaining the highest level of integrity and treating customers they way they would like to be treated.
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