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Partners: Verizon's Preferred Renewal Program Is Paying Off

The program, launched last year, has opened enterprise accounts up and led to more revenue, partners say.

With the launch of its Preferred Renewal Program for the channel last year, Verizon has demonstrated that it's viewing the channel with new eyes, solution providers said. Partners report that the one-year-old program has opened up Verizon's once largely inaccessible large enterprise accounts and is creating new revenue opportunities.

"We found that some of our large enterprise accounts weren't really getting the level of attention that they required from Verizon," said Adam Famularo, global channel vice president of Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon Enterprise Solutions. "Now, we have a great program that enables our partners to make the most margin from Verizon's products."

Since the program was launched, more than 1,300 partners have been added, according to Verizon.

[Related: Verizon Opens Up 1,700 'Top Enterprise' Accounts To Channel]

Because partners were previously unable to sell into enterprise accounts, they were forced to help customers migrate to other carriers, which probably pressured Verizon to engage with the channel, said J.R. Cook, senior vice president of business development for master agent Intelisys.

"Not only has Verizon become partner-friendly, but they put some programs in place that are quite attractive to partners in comparison with what some other carriers might offer," he said.

Verizon would allow partners to sell into certain accounts in the past, and then often reassign the enterprise end customers to a direct Verizon sales agent, Cook said. But now, he said, partners can confidently offer services Verizon provides knowing that they will be compensated by Verizon.

"In the past, it was a complicated process to figure out which accounts we could sell into," said John Cunningham, CEO of New York-based BCM One, an IT consulting and management provider. "It was difficult to plug Verizon services into some customer environments because of [Verizon's] rules of engagement, but those have drastically opened up."

Petaluma, Calif.-based Intelisys has been working with Portland, Ore.-based IT services provider Kingcom to make its sales partners aware of the program for the past year, and at first, partners were skeptical.

’We wondered if they were really going to open up their account base and allow us to work. We had some clients that have some Verizon services, so we gave it a shot. We were pleasantly surprised each time [Verizon] let us know we could work the account,’ said Rachel McNeese, founder and president of Richardson Communications, a systems integrator and Verizon partner based in McKinney, Texas.

Richardson Communications, which has been working through Intelisys for the past seven years, started taking advantage of Verizon’s Preferred Renewal Program last year, and so far, it has been a success, McNeese said. "Every opportunity we’ve brought to Verizon, they’ve allowed us to work with them on."

But it wasn't always that easy, and Verizon was losing the clients they were trying to protect by not allowing partners in, she said. "Every time we would try to work a [customer] account, Verizon wouldn't allow us to work it through them. We got to a point where we stopped even trying."

Partners were building up customer accounts, but then weren't being paid on these accounts anymore by Verizon. At the same time, end customers were still coming to the partner for help, Intelisys' Cook said.

Verizon doesn't have to own every enterprise account anymore, BCM One's Cunningham said. ’All the changes they’ve made at the top have shown that first and foremost, [Verizon] is looking to provide the best solutions to their clients, and if a partner has a relationship or skill set that they can connect to Verizon services to provide a better solution, they are open to that, because it’s in the best interest of clients,’ he said.

End customers now have the option of going to their reseller or technology partner or directly to Verizon for help, Verizon Enterprise Solutions' Famularo said.

Partners have been pleased with Verizon’s new approach to the channel. With the carrier now viewing the channel as an accelerator to bring in more business, new revenue opportunities that didn’t exist before have become a reality for BCM One, the company reports. BCM One has a mix of enterprise and small- to midsize-business (SMB) customers. The provider is now selling Verizon services to the majority of its clients, and its revenue has doubled, according to Cunningham.

For Richardson Communications, revenue has grown by an additional $40,000 to $50,000 in the year since the Preferred Renewal Program was launched, McNeese said.

Partners believe that new leadership at Verizon is responsible for changing the carrier’s view of the channel. The new executive team is more familiar with the channel, and that’s helped nurture a more partner-friendly environment, they said. End customers benefit from the new relationship, too, because they can work with a partner with additional resources to complement their Verizon deployments, Cook said.

And this trend is leaking into other carrier business strategies, too, McNeese added. ’The bigger carriers that were more difficult to work with for partners in the past are starting to see the light,’ she said.

PUBLISHED JULY 17, 2015

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