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Among other updates, Level 3 expanded its Partner Experience team to help channel partners with lifecycle management of customer deals, and it is also adding resources on its online Partner Portal. Level 3 also has a new, 14-member partner advisory board to act as a "think tank" for its channel efforts.
Level 3 partners see the new program as a step in the right direction, though caution it'll take some time for partners to feel out the changes.
"It makes sense," said Ken Mercer, vice president of sales for Chicago-based master agent Telecom Brokerage, Inc. "We were a big Global Crossing house and a big Level 3 house before, and there were certain parts of each agreement I liked better. But if I can't get everything I want, it's still pretty damn good."
Mercer said TBI was able to freeze its Level 3 account bases at their existing commission points, which will help TBI's Level 3 business continue without interruptions in the short term. But Level 3, he added, will still have to convince partners that its integration headaches have subsided.
"There was some overlap and confusion, but I like the support structure they now have in place," Mercer said. "The people who made it through are good people. I'm very bullish on the new Level 3."
"The new compensation strategy is a big change, so we are concerned there," said Jay Bradley, president of Intelisys, a Petaluma, Calif.-based master agent. "And they've had some challenges being able to provide ease of doing business over the past year since the integration, and partners have seen that. But, they're staffing and putting resources into areas critical to their program, and that's going to help a ton."
"I'm encouraged by the support we'll have to manage partners and provide a quality experience," said Ian Kieninger, CEO of Avant Communications, a Chicago-based solution provider and cloud services distributor. "The investments made in the back-end infrastructure and process sound good and should allow for more efficient quoting and contracting, so that will allow everyone to spend more time out there actually selling."
Not all Level 3 partners are excited about the changing programs.
"I look at that VAR program and that's them aligning VARs with the direct sales teams. So, if I'm an agent, I don't participate in that, and how does it help me?" said a Level 3 agent, who asked that his name not be used. "That's not giving me a part of that program, and it's also stealing a potential future sub-agent or VAR partner of mine. So I don't think that helps me at all."