Level 3 Partner Program Overhaul Has VARs In Mind

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Now that the tricky integration of the former Level 3 and Global Crossing channels is complete, Level 3 has a revamped channel program meant to broaden its appeal for both traditional telecom agents and VARs warily embracing the IT-telco convergence trend.

"We created a program that will help give us leverage and scope through our partnerships across the entire company," Michael Jerich, vice president of indirect channels for Level 3, told CRN. "A lot of our relationships are still predominantly telecom agents. That being said, we realize there's a convergence going on and that we needed to create specific programs to help [VARs] be successful and get the results we need."

The new Level 3 Partner Program, which the company announced in late January, offers agents and VARs a number of ways to engage with Level 3, depending on how their practices are built and their level of comfort selling telecom and carrier services.


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VARs can be referral partners or direct agents, or they can contract through one of Level 3's master agencies -- all of which were possible in the old programs. What's new this time around is that VAR partners can also opt for a co-selling relationship with Level 3's direct sales organization, through which they'll be supported in key accounts and offered contract terms under a program separate from Level 3's standard agent agreements.

Overall, Level 3 partners are now designated in tiers: Elite, Premier or Authorized. Each tier has a revenue threshold and sales quota, but the higher the tier, the better the pricing and access to other benefits such as market development funds, lead generation and dedicated account team resources.

Level 3 acquired Global Crossing in October 2011 in a deal valued at about $3 billion. Jerich was named channel chief later that month -- a return, of sorts, seeing as he'd previously been at Level 3 until leaving for Global Crossing in 2009.

Jerich said that after several integration phases, the formerly separate companies' channels are combined, and the new Level 3 is ready to move forward.

"This should be the final piece," he said.

By and large, VARs are more interested than ever in adding telecom and carrier services practices, he said, but there's still a "wait-and-see attitude" for many.

"We've been on this journey for a number of years now, and we're closer than ever to getting the VAR community working in this space," he said. "In the last 18 months, especially, we've seen an influx into Level 3. We've always been channel friendly, but there's no doubt that VARs are definitely becoming more favorable to this type of partnership."

NEXT: Partners Cautiously Optimistic

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