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CenturyLink’s New Channel Partner Program Agreement Incentivizes Partners To Sell Strategic Services

‘We had many—40 to 50-plus contracts—that were all custom and unique so the challenge was around making certain we were in compliance,’ says Lisa Miller, CenturyLink's president of wholesale and indirect channels and alliances. ‘We have now created a contract that is the same across all partners.’

CenturyLink has rolled out a highly anticipated, consolidated channel agreement for all of its partners that has been designed to incentivize them to sell strategic IT services, such as hybrid networking and cloud.

"We had many—40 to 50-plus contracts—that were all custom and unique so the challenge was around making certain we were in compliance," Lisa Miller, CenturyLink's president of wholesale and indirect channels and alliances, told CRN. "We have now created a contract that is the same across all partners."

The new CenturyLink Channel Partner Program Agreement includes a commission structure based on performance, which is different from the carrier's former contracts, Miller said. "We want to be easier to do business with so we need an easier contract," she said.

[Related: 5 Things Partners Should Know About CenturyLink's Channel Program Integration]

CenturyLink said that it carried out a "lengthy" review process that involved seeking out feedback from its partner community, including both its master agents and solution provider partners.

"We worked together to come up with an agreement, and I think it's a great agreement for all parties," said Shane Stark, director of vendor and channel relations for Carrier Access, a Clive, Iowa-based solution provider that was on the Advisory Board for CenturyLink's new partner agreement.

CenturyLink really listened to its Advisory Council's feedback in creating a new agreement that would combine CenturyLink and Level 3's channel agreements, according to Stark. "It's a good contract that helps both master distributors and boutique shops like us," he said.

The new agreement was very much a collaborative effort, Miller said. "We continued to listen to partners so we could make it a win-win contract. We aren't looking at this in the short term—we really want this to last us 10 years," she said.

CenturyLink, now integrated with Level 3, wants to grow with the channel, she said. The carrier wants partners to take a look at some of its "growth" products, such as Ethernet, security, cloud and VPN offerings.

Partners can either work with CenturyLink directly or, for those that don't meet the requirements of the new tiers, they can work with CenturyLink under a master agent, Miller explained.

"We want to align our partners with the strategy we are trying to drive at CenturyLink," she said.

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