Agent Group Helps Partners Tackle Software Sales

The new company targets partners who want to add new revenue streams with email security software but don't feel confident selling it.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

April 25, 2024

6 Min Read
software sales group

The recently formed Software Sales Group is working to get formerly telecom-focused channel partners up to speed on selling software as a service (SaaS).

Connecticut-based Software Sales Group (SSG) emerged in January and touts partnerships with email security providers Trustifi and SaaS Alerts. The group is courting agents and MSPs with training and sales enablement to sell the two software solutions to their customer bases.

The company is a collaboration of two executives of technology advisor organizations: Mark Venuto of US Network and Bill Patchett of P2 Telecom. Their agencies have both been adding software solutions over the last few years, and now SSG creates a vehicle that will support those respective efforts.

Moreover, Venuto and Patchett want to work together with other agencies that are trying to evolve their practices into SaaS.


“It's a very small percentage of the advisor community that knows how to sell the stuff that we're selling today. And that's what we're trying to focus on. We're trying to focus on helping them [learn] a new path to revenue that they're not getting today," Patchett told Channel Futures in an interview.

Founding Software Sales Group

The executives were familiar with each other as fellow members of the AppDirect Capital program. They said their association with AppDirect helped them see the opportunity to sell the different SaaS offerings on AppDirect's extensive marketplace.

And over the years, both men evolved their companies' portfolios. P2, which both sold solutions directly to customers and functioned as a services distributor for other agents, formed agreements with several software vendors, including Trustifi. Venuto's sales team trained to sell software in addition to their signature focus on multilocation network solutions.


“I've trained them over the last two years, and they're all certified in all the SaaS products now. Because I do see a market share pendulum shift into SaaS. Security is a heavily hit marketplace," Venuto told Channel Futures. "Some of the small, medium and large enterprise companies are truly behind the times on what kind of software they need to protect their environment.”

Venuto and Patchett said they are focusing SSG on Trustifi and SaaS Alerts because AppDirect did not have either company on its marketplace. And if one of those suppliers did join with AppDirect, they and AppDirect would still benefit from SSG providing focused training for their solutions.

AppDirect and Trustifi are indeed working to roll out an agreement. Schwartz said SSG functions as a "connector" for AppDirect.

"We want to push everything that way [to AppDirect]. When it comes to training and support, all of that's done on the Trustifi side, but we're trying to make this as simple and as seamless as possible for our agents," he said.

Renée Bergeron, chief operating officer at AppDirect, said SSG fits within AppDirect's vision.

“AppDirect’s mission to continually diversify and expand our catalog ensures we can offer our advisors all of the products they need to be successful. This is an example of exactly that. As a provider, Trustifi has proved [its] value to the Software Sales Group agency, and by building our relationship directly, AppDirect will allow Trustifi to amplify that impact," Bergeron said.

Agents Add Software Sales

Agents, also known as technology advisors, represent a unique demographic of channel partners. They differ from value-added resellers (VARs) in that their vendor partners pay them a residual commission rather than sell them the technology for markup, and they differ from managed service providers (MSPs) in that the vendor provides managed services for deals sourced by the agent.

The agent space has roots in telecom – originally selling various solutions for voice, data and internet – and in the last decade adopting cloud-based unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS). Cybersecurity is an area where many agents and their technology services distributors have invested; categories like network security (including secure access service edge) and managed security have seen more adoption. A 2023 survey of tech advisors by Channel Futures found that email security was at the bottom of the list for cybersecurity offerings sold.

In some cases, the lack of sales stems from certain vendors not existing in tech services distributor (TSD) line cards. But Venuto and Patchett also pointed to a lack of confidence.

"They're just nervous about it. And they should be, because you have to know a little bit. This is not a cable circuit. This is not a POTS line flip. This is a little bit more of an intricate sale," he said.

Most agents today made the transition to UCaaS, which is cloud-based software. But that transition was a much more natural move for those formerly telecom-focused partners, said Zack Schwartz, vice president of partnerships at Trustifi.

“They've been selling telephones forever. So the fact that the telephone is now coming embedded with technology that is going to give them a lot of the things that they always wanted but couldn't do that with your traditional telephone, is something that's very appealing to them. And that's something that is still within their realm of expertise. Going from, ‘I'm selling a PBX' to ‘I'm selling an email security license’ is a much broader jump."

In addition, Schwartz said businesses in previous years might have viewed email security as a "nice to have" rather than a "need to have." But the current landscape of ever-proliferating attacks is dispelling that.

Now Schwartz says the same procurement departments that bought UCaaS and WAN from agents are looking for someone to sell them SaaS.

“The same guys who are in the decision-making process for those circuits are the same guys who were buying your Microsoft 365 licenses. They're the ones implementing security projects, your endpoints, your email," Schwartz said. "So if you're having a conversation with them, why are you letting Joe from down the block get that commission if this has been your customer for the last 20 years?”

Patchett said email security could function as a key revenue replacement for agents who are seeing their voice products go on a "race to zero."

“It's becoming a price play. Your customers are spending more on SaaS than they are on voice and data these days. After three years into selling SaaS with our partners at AppDirect we look at SaaS renewals every month, and the amount that they're spending on SaaS eclipses what they're spending on voice and data," Patchett said. "So what part of the business do you want to be in? Do you want to sell three times as much to keep up with your monthly income? Or do you want to find a new path to revenue?”

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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