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Earning Trust and Building Relationships: My Vision for Channel at Zayo


by Chris Nein, SVP of Channel Sales

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I couldn’t be more excited to start the new year in a new position as the Senior Vice President of Channel Sales at Zayo. It’s no secret that the channel at Zayo has experienced its share of ups and downs. However, over the past two years, we have been committed to building a best-in-class channel program. 

In 2024 I’m looking forward to fostering partner relationships, bolstering Zayo’s reputation in the channel as the premier fiber infrastructure provider, and growing our position as a  leading managed edge and UCaaS service provider.

I’ve been at Zayo now for two years leading new customer acquisition with a focus on our edge portfolio – a very channel-centric offering – and joined the company as part of the QOS Networks acquisition. At QOS, where I was Chief Revenue Officer, 85% of our new business acquisitions came through channel partners – so needless to say I have immense respect for the value of the channel. 

That said, I’ll use this blog to introduce my vision for the channel at Zayo and share my top three goals for 2024. 

My Vision for Zayo Channel

Earn the trust of channel partners and nurture relationships

We’re currently witnessing one of the major technological shifts of our time – the shift from MPLS to the edge. To navigate this monumental change, enterprises seek out trusted, consultative partners with the skills to guide them and the tools they need to seamlessly navigate such a massive shift. With trusted advisors in the channel and market-leading edge solutions from Zayo, enterprises can do just that. 

But to bring our transformative solutions to more customers, we first need to earn the trust of our partners. We know that Zayo has not been the easiest provider to work with in the past, but we’re dedicated to changing that. We have already made great strides in service delivery and NOC support. In 2024, we are committed to continuing the momentum by improving our systems and tools that drive productivity. I aim to earn the trust of our channel partners and nurture new and existing channel relationships so we can bring the best possible solutions to industry-leading customers together. 

Expand Zayo’s reputation as a fiber provider to include edge-core-cloud

Every partner knows and trusts us for our dark fiber, waves, and dedicated Internet access offerings and for connecting customers to buildings and data centers. And we want to be known for these offerings – but at the same time, we’re so much more than that. 

In addition to our stellar network offerings, we provide solutions in cloud connectivity plus a vast managed services portfolio. When combined with our infrastructure portfolio our partners know and love, we offer a truly unique edge-core-cloud solution that can improve performance and efficiency, streamline costs, enable scalability and flexibility, and, ultimately, satisfy enterprise customers.

A core part of our strategy this year is to educate our amazing partner community about our edge-core-cloud capabilities and to work together to bring these capabilities to end customers. 

Grow mid-size enterprise customer base 

Finally, for the first time, Zayo is kicking off our AAA program which involves over 3,000 key mid-sized enterprise accounts dedicated exclusively to channel partners. Jennifer Rutherford will lend her great experience supporting partner operations and growth and will lead the team for this key initiative. We plan to work with partners to grow this base of highly-valued prospects and win new customers as part of this program. 

Expand regional and national leadership

Aside from a renewed focus on mid-sized enterprises, we’re also honing in on regional relationships. We’re expanding the field sales organizations from two regions to three. Tyler Todd will lead the west region, Carl Bonitz will head the east region, and we’ll add a channel veteran leader to focus on the central region. 

We’re also re-adding a national partner role with a heavy focus on education, training, systems, and tools to make it easier for partners to work with Zayo and further our reach in the channel community.

My Channel Goals for 2024

Last year we increased our investment in the channel, and this year we’re investing even more. We’re more than doubling our sponsorship dollars in the channel this year while other providers are lowering their investment. Here at Zayo, our commitment to the channel is higher than ever. 

I am honored to be leading channel sales and have three big goals I hope to accomplish this year in my new role. 

1. Pay partners on time and accurately every month

We’ve been working tirelessly to ensure data integrity in our systems, leading to more accurate payments. We will continue to improve data integrity in 2024 and make partner sales and compensation a top priority for any system upgrades we put in place. 

2. Make it easier to work with Zayo 

We know we aren’t the easiest providers to work with today. But I hope that the changes we make this year will make us easier to work with. We plan to introduce automation to key systems and tools, allowing partners to expose more enterprises to Zayo solutions more simply. 

3. Maniacally focus on the customer experience 

Our goal is to never have Zayo’s actions reflect poorly on our partners. Instead, we want our partners to be perceived positively due to Zayo solutions being introduced to their customers. 

The Future of Zayo Channel Partnerships

All in all, I’m unbelievably excited and honored to have this opportunity to lead channel sales at Zayo. I get to work with amazing colleagues and partners and with a community I deeply respect and appreciate. 

I’m looking forward to making a positive impact on the success of the channel at Zayo by introducing customers to our amazing portfolio of edge-to-core-to-cloud solutions through our incredible partners. I aim to reaffirm Zayo’s focus on the channel by being consistent and continually investing in our channel community. 

Mark my words – 2024 will be the year Zayo becomes a major player in the channel space in a way we never have been before. 

About the Author

by Chris Nein

SVP of Channel Sales