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CRN Exclusive: Cywest Goes All In With The Channel, Launches First Partner Program

Cywest, which bills itself as a 'telecom network enhancer', hires channel veteran Alan Fortier as its first director of channel sales to develop and manage the new program.

After more than two decades in business, Cywest Communications is embracing the selling power of the channel with a brand-new approach to its sales strategy and a formalized partner program.

Cywest, a self-proclaimed "telecom network enhancer," decided this year that the best way to grow is through the channel. To that end, the company has tapped Alan Fortier, a channel veteran, as its first director of channel sales. Fortier has been busy developing and managing the company's new channel program.

"We're going all in with the channel. We want Cywest to be a partner organization," Fortier said.

[Related: How 'Circuit Slinging' Telecom Agents Are Selling More Cloud Services Through Immersive Training, Education]

Prior to his role with Cywest, Fortier was vice president of channel sales for IT service provider Acceleration Systems and director of channel sales for risk management firm Trace Security. Fortier also served as a channel account manager for Cisco.

Cywest specializes in designing, building and managing flexible and reliable communications networks across multiple, third-party carrier networks for enterprise customers. For the channel, partnering with Cywest isn't just about finding the lowest-price circuit for an end customer. It's about designing a customized network to meet their customers' productivity needs, Cywest CEO Cyrus Nooriala told CRN.

"This isn't just a residual game that agents can play with us. There are huge upsell opportunities because our network design is solid and we have security solutions built right in," Nooriala said. "An agent can really provide an all-encompassing solution to their client."

Partners selling Cywest's secure, redundant networks that use multiple carrier offerings will see greater margins than those simply selling service provider circuits, Fortier said. In addition to increasing their revenue, the new channel program will give partners access to better deals with carriers, Rafael Cantu, vice president of sales for Cywest, said.

Partnering with Cywest will also help partners avoid troubleshooting issues and long response times that plague the telecommunications industry, Nooriala said. Cywest can generate proactive tickets on behalf of customers before users notice any issue, he said. The typical ticket response time is between two and five minutes, and Cywest has a service-level agreement guaranteeing a response within 15 minutes, he added.

"Today we have very critical streams of data going across these networks, like voice and video, and even 911. It's not just email going across these infrastructures, so downtime is unacceptable," Nooriala said. "Because of the level of strategy we put into our network designs, we can work around carrier network issues."

Cywest isn't looking for a cast of hundreds or thousands of partners. Instead, the company will be selective, going after agent partners selling telecom services to enterprise customers -- especially customers in the legal, health-care and financial markets, Fortier said.

"For the large enterprise customers that we serve best, it's really a relational business," Cantu said. "Clients trust their channel partners, so it’s the best way to go to scale our business."

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