Verizon To Begin Cutting Former MCI Agents

Verizon will begin immediately to conduct interviews with its legacy MCI agents to determine if they can stay on as Verizon agents, said Kristen McCarthy, director of partner programs for Verizon's mid-Atlantic and Western regions. This "recruitment phase" will last through November, she said on a conference call Friday.

The call , hosted by McCarthy, is part of the run-up to a new 2007 Verizon Solution Partner Program (VSPP), contract expected in November, that has many legacy MCI agents concerned about their future.

As for the new VSPP contract, "the full blown plan with all of the details will not be available for any of us until well into November and by that time our interviewing has to be completed."

In advance of the interviews, Verizon will give legacy MCI partners questionnaires that prepare them. Sales forecasts, sales territory, and business plans will each be part of the questionnaires, she said. The VSPP will not accommodate all legacy MCI partners, she said.

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"We don't have unlimited capacity," McCarthy said.

CRN was present on the conference call but unable to ask questions through the moderator. A Verizon spokesman said after the call that he did not immediately have numbers to quantify how many legacy MCI agents Verizon plans to retain in 2007.

What is known of the 2007 VSPP contract is that it will have two tiers, one exclusive and one non-exclusive. "The more exclusivity you give us the more compensation we will give you," McCarthy said.

The exact commission levels for both tiers are not being disclosed yet, but legacy MCI partners will be told during their interviews, she said.

The 2007 VSPP contract raises the deal size required for an agent to get on-site assistance from Verizon Business' engineers on a job from $10,000 to $50,000, according to McCarthy. This process, called "teaming," could also be subject to reduced compensation for a partner, according to a data sheet provided to participants of the conference call, viewed by CRN.

Commissions will be paid to partners in both tiers in the same way: 50 percent of the commission on a deal will be paid upfront, and the balance will be paid as a residual over either five years or the length of the contract if it is less than five years, McCarthy said.

Legacy MCI partners that are not selected for the VSPP can not renew their legacy MCI contracts, according to the data sheet. All legacy MCI contracts will become Verizon contracts in 2007, so if MCI partners do not make it into the VSPP, they lose their legacy accounts, according to the data sheets.

Verizon Business also will take direct and bar VSPP agents from all "premier, federal, system integrator, government, education, wholesale and international" accounts, according to the data sheet.

Many legacy MCI agents that participated in the question and answer session of the conference call were deeply concerned about the criteria under which they would be rated for inclusion in the VSPP.

"This just makes [Verizon] tougher to work with, if we even end up working with them at all," a legacy MCI agent said on the condition of anonymity due to several large pending contracts with Verizon. "It's like they are running some kind of fraternity, where they want to interview you and see if you qualify for the club, which they are going to run their way."