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Verizon Channel Chief Wendy Taccetta: ‘We Can Be Part Of The Story Of This Country Coming Back’

‘Easy to do business with’ hasn’t historically been the brand of Verizon’s channel program, but the carrier’s newly-minted channel chief and small business lead Wendy Taccetta already has the wheels in motion to create a ‘single door’ for partners to work with Verizon. She’s also busy helping partners see the opportunities beyond connectivity, especially for SMB customers bouncing back from COVID-19.

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Tell us about your new role with Verizon as global channel chief and small business leader.

I took the channel chief assignment in December, but I’ve actually been in a what I would call a transformation role for Verizon Business since we announced the creation of Verizon Business in 2018. I came from a field role. I’ve been a sales leader in the field for a long time. Our CEO [Tami Erwin] asked me if I would come to Basking Ridge [New Jersey] and help redesign how we serve customers. For the last two years, my job has been, how do we think about this business not as what product you buy -- historically, we’ve been a wireless and wireline company -- but how do we think about this as who’s the customer and what could they do with Verizon? That sounds really simple in a boardroom. Then you get to the nuts and bolts of enabling it and you realize there are reasons why we haven’t always been able to serve customers everywhere. So, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to really get after all these types of customers; small business right down to the single office, and all the way up to the largest enterprise, including public sector. The reality we have to acknowledge is, if you’ve done business with us over the last 20 years, the majority of people -- especially business customers -- have done business with someone wearing a Verizon badge. Now, that being said, we’ve had a pretty significant channel business, but we haven’t always been where we see it as a parallel line of business. It’s sometimes been something we do in another group. One of the things around when we think about the next 10 years of Verizon is, it’s not always going to be a Verizon employee. Sometimes it’s going to be that a business owner needs some customization that we don’t do in scale. They want a product we don’t carry. They want speed that companies our size can’t always give them. So, we started to think about how do you do more for customers? Well, you’ve got to get good at what you do as a direct sales team. But we actually believe the way to widen the highway is to add the partners to that. It’s probably the biggest difference if I think about who we were and who we are.

I actually sit on both sides of the business. I lead this channel work, but I’m also leading how we think about the customer. And that’s a little different than I think some of our competitors. We’re not looking to move to a channel-first organization or direct-first organization, we’re looking to look at the customer and saying “What do you need, and can I bring the right people to the table?” And then how we do this, whether a partner is going to sell with us, which happens all the time, or whether the partner is just going to go get a product from us and bring it to a customer, or the partner is going to sell on behalf of Verizon. [It’s about] how we make it work so that the customer is not stuck in our process. My mantra to my team is, we are the bridge from the partner to Verizon, so the customer doesn’t have to figure it out. Our job is to make it easy for the partner because we know when it’s easy for the partner, it’s easier for the customer. [Erwin’s] mantra to me is; “Your job is not to grow channel.” And that may scare some of our channel partners. My job is to grow Verizon’s share by growing channel. So, it’s not about how do I move it from a direct rep to an indirect rep, it’s how do I think about widening the highway of ways the customer can do business with us. That’s been the priority. It’s been acknowledging what who we were and really respecting our history because we have a program to be proud of, but also acknowledging it hasn’t been as integrated as it is today. And now how do we do it?

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