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Agents are moving beyond traditional connectivity sales as their primary business.

James Anderson

April 21, 2021

7 Slides

APPSMART UNLEASH VIRTUAL — Partners don’t need high-level technological expertise to adopt next-generation technologies and do more cross-selling.

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AppSmart’s Tim Basa

That’s according to Tim Basa, AppSmart‘s vice president of sales. Basa was speaking about how traditional telco agents have adopted energy, software and other non-traditional technologies into their portfolio.

“You don’t have to be the expert; you have to be a good introducer, a good question-asker,” Basa said. “Ask what’s on the road map. What areas of the business are you trying to solve for? And then bring in experts.”

Joel St. Germain, whose company, GCG, recently signed an exclusive partnership with AppSmart, said he made the deal because he saw where technology trends are moving. He said he wanted to position his agents to grow their business.

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GCG’s Joel St. Germain

“I think we all recognized that it was all moving into the cloud, and COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of cloud,” St. Germain said. “I think we’ve seen that in the channel. Trusted advisers have educated themselves to be able to make that pivot.”

St. Germain and Basa were speaking at the AppSmart Unleash event, which concluded on Wednesday.

Founder’s Perspective

AppDirect president and co-CEO Daniel Saks said face-to-face interactions have guided the sales process over the course of human history. However, the digital world has altered that trend. Since the internet’s invention, customers have been moving toward online marketplaces as their preferred method of engagement.

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AppDirect’s Dan Saks

Saks said he saw this trend play out in 2008 when the Great Recession hit. While larger enterprises had the resources to sell online without ever meeting a person, many small businesses couldn’t keep up. The furniture store that the Saks family ran was one such company. Saks, who had imagined himself one day leading the family company, saw the business close its doors for good.

He went on to found AppDirect the next year. AppDirect in 2018 bought master agent WTG and merged it with also-acquired cloud services provider NeoCloud, birthing the AppSmart division.

Although Saks built AppDirect (and by extension, AppSmart) as a cloud marketplace that meets the digital buying habits of modern customers, he still places a high value on human interaction. For that reason, AppSmart pursued other master agencies like Telegration, CNSG and MicroCorp.

“The skills and expertise of technology advisers are more valuable than ever, because as you know, technology transformation is about much more than technology. It’s about people,” Saks said.

Partner Perspectives

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US Network’s Mark Venuto

Take for example US Network, which partners with AppSmart. Chief operating officer Mark Venuto said the 30-year-old telco shop has evolved over the years. It initially evolved in the size of its customers, moving from SMBs to the midmarket to the enterprise. Venuto said its AppSmart partnership opened the door for cross-selling.

As a result, US Network can engage with its existing customer base on solutions – such as security – that it previously wouldn’t sell. Venuto said his company has developed more sticky customer relationships.

“It’s a huge piece of business that, 1) we’ve been missing; 2) we need the training on; and 3) we can teach all of our folks how to sell,” Venuto said.

US Network joined AppSmart’s Invest program, which gives upfront capital and residual payments to qualifying partners, who retain ownership of their business.

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On Track Communications’ Bill Mansfield

Bill Mansfield, president and founder of On Track Communications, said he found a unique deal in the Invest program. On one hand, Mansfield wanted On Track – a regional master agent – to expand the resources it was offering to its subagents and help them move beyond selling only connectivity. He also was considering the timeline of his own career.

“I’m 64 years old. I wasn’t looking to continue on a day-to-day basis running the company,” Mansfield said. “I needed a partner that has my back and has my agents’ back and understood that the idea of going forward for me to provide for my family was critical.”

View the slideshow above to see additional commentary from partners. You can also read our Day 1 recap.

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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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