Lumen Technologies Ups Partner Payouts Via Policy Update: Exclusive

The compensation windfall for partners comes in the form of a change that Lumen Technologies, formerly CenturyLink, is making to its Channel-Integrated Engagement Policy.


Lumen Technologies, the firm formerly known as CenturyLink, is making a big change to its partner program aimed at improving collaboration between the carrier’s direct sales team and its partners, while also boosting compensation “considerably” for solution providers.

Lumen is altering its Channel-Integrated Engagement (CIE) Policy so that starting Dec. 1, the carrier’s Partner Program Agreement CIE tax rate will be cut down to 15 percent from 30 percent on all new sales. The change will mean higher payouts for partners, CRN has learned.

One longtime CenturyLink-turned Lumen partner called the new rules of engagement “a really great thing.”

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When Level 3 Communications and CenturyLink merged in 2018, Level 3 changed CenturyLink’s strong channel integration approach. Now, the carrier is changing it back, the partner said.

“Halving the tax rate … is a positive thing,” the partner said. ”They’re doing this to drive channel integration so that everyone can work together.”

[Related: Lumen Technologies, Formerly CenturyLink, Sees Enterprise Gains But Sliding SMB Sales During ‘New Era’]

Garrett Gee, senior vice president of indirect sales for Lumen, told CRN that the carrier’s ultimate goal is to improve partner and customer experiences.

“Lumen’s channel partners are critical to our ongoing success and we are focused on evolving in ways to drive growth together and deliver exceptional experiences for our mutual customers. We are excited to launch a CIE policy change that will not only increase partner compensation, but will also increase the volume of sales opportunities and close rates. The increase in partner share of commission with this change is considerable,” Gee said in an email to CRN.

The CIE policy change will also improve the relationship between Lumen’s direct sales team and partners by allowing the two to work together and close deals faster. Lumen is also making internal sales compensation changes to better support CIE sales, the carrier said.

“We are transforming with this CIE policy change to foster an environment that is more conducive to teamed deals. We will be working with our Partner Advisory Council and direct sales team to evaluate and improve our CIE program over the next several months,” Gee said.

As of July, Lumen’s indirect and enterprise sales organizations were organized under the same leadership. This is giving the carrier “a more direct line of sight to the larger strategic deals” that Lumen can its partners can pursue and close, Gee said.

The partner program change will also boost incremental sales for Lumen’s solution provider community, according to Gee.

Existing partner program agreement sales and revenue created before December 1 will still abide by the 30 percent CIE tax rate, Lumen said. Sales after Dec. 1, however, will keep the 15 percent CIE tax rate for the life of the revenue, according to the Monroe, La.-based carrier.

The program change comes five months after the telecom giant told its channel partners that it would be ending payment on commissions to agents on rural healthcare accounts based on its interpretation of a 2019 Federal Communications Commission order called Order 19-78. The decision prompted immediate backlash from a group of the telecommunication provider’s partners.