EE is reviewing its indirect partner relations in a bid to drive further growth in the b2b sector.
The review is looking at how to prepare the EE partner programme for a rapidly changing market, and how EE’s indirect team can better serve EE’s b2b partners.
Speaking to Mobile, Gerry McQuade, EE’s chief marketing officer for business, said: ‘We are looking at the partner programme. It is a very important part of our business, with a reasonable share of the SME business, and we have seen significant growth in 2014 in that channel in terms of broadening our offering to our partners so that they can reach broader segments of the market.’
He went on: ‘There is a lot of change happening. The market is shifting. There is a lot of consolidation going on in the channel so we want to be future proof. We want to get the right partner programme and so we are looking at it.’
EE is still firmly committed to its partners, said McQuade. ‘The indirect channel is really important to us and will remain so,’ he insisted.
Nor is the review about the quantity of EE’s b2b partners, he added. ‘We are not taking a position on the numbers of partners – whether we deal with fewer or more. We are asking where we are going, how we can respond to that and how to utilise the channel.’
Asked if EE’s indirect channel review, which saw it terminate its relations with Phones 4u in September, would impact on the Partner Programme, McQuade said: ‘We do want to do more direct sales but not at the expense of indirect. We have seen both grow and we want to continue to see growth in both our indirect and direct channels.
EE is also consulting with its indirect support staff on how they work with EE’s b2b partners. McQuade said: ‘We are looking at the way we deal with our partners, reducing some activities in some areas while increasing our activities in other areas. We are in a process of consultation with staff and we are reorganising the design of our day-to-day model.’
McQuade said the restructuring had been prompted following talks with partners ‘who didn’t think the current model worked very well’. He said feedback from partners had shown that there was too much emphasis on the team acting as account managers.
‘They had become too dependent, acting more like interlocutors than account managers,’ he said, adding: ‘We had probably allowed the definition to blur somewhat.’
Under the new model McQuade said there would be a clearer division between sales support and operational support for partners.
He added that the review was also looking at what products were needed going forward, and how EE responds to the shifts in the market in terms of consolidation.