It's been a tough year for some partners and their customers, but there clearly are success stories.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

November 12, 2020

3 Min Read
Money Bag

Think the agent channel has struggled to deliver sales in 2020? Think again.

PlanetOne CEO Ted Schuman revealed data that shows the resilience of the channel in the face of COVID-19. For example, the company has already surpassed its 2019 sales numbers.


PlanetOne’s Ted Schuman

“That’s an amazing achievement,” Schuman said. “Thank you very much for all of your contributions through arguably the most difficult year that probably anyone has experienced in their lifetime.”

Moreover, PlanetOne’s attrition rate remained at 1%, and commissions have increased significantly.

“We’ve already sent more money to all of you in the field than we did in the entire calendar year of last year,” Schuman said.

A Sudden Change

PlanetOne and its agents encountered the pandemic after registering a record-setting first quarter, which outperformed every quarter in the company’s 28-year history.

Then March hit, and the sales cycle compressed. The low end of the market went quiet as transactional broadband customers stayed home.

“Those businesses were shut down very quickly and abruptly. We really didn’t see a lot of activity,” he said. “But then we saw other swim lanes just take off. Hosted voice, security, internet, wireless, laptops.”

David Goodwin, managing partner and co-founder of Advanced Technology Consulting (ATC), noted that remote work drastically shifted customers’ technology needs.

The Ohio-based consultancy enabled remote work for approximately 10,000 users in the two weeks following shelter-in-place orders.

“It changed what they needed to do to their firewalls. It changed what they needed to do to their VPNs. It’s changing the way they’re looking at their network and their infrastructure,” Goodwin said.

While ATC served many customers that reached out in “panic mode,” others simply needed to use technology already in place.


ATC’s David Goodwin

“The people that were already taking our advice were in a great position regardless of this pandemic,” Goodwin said. “They were already utilizing a cloud-based phone system. They already had bandwidth that was built to scale.”

Goodwin said some customers slowed down on large-scale projects out of uncertainty about the future. But now those clients are beginning to warm up again.

Heavy Workload

Anne Chow, CEO of AT&T Business, said her organization got more than 16,000 requests to enable remote work, telemedicine and other virtual contexts during the first three months of lockdown.


AT&T’s Anne Chow

“There was an incredible demand for connectivity,” Chow said.

Chow presented other interesting numbers while speaking at the PlanetOne Virtual Tech Tour 3.0. For example, AT&T Business’ core traffic went up 20%. And users twice shattered the record for texts per second, going from 15,000 to 23,000.

“If we could imagine this crisis happening in a day when we did not have mobile broadband services and the internet — what would our lives have been like? What would have happened to our economy?” she said.

Growth and Addition

PlanetOne used the event to unveil eight preferred providers for 2021. The highlighted vendors are Avaya, Five9, Talkdesk, Granite Telecommunications, Genesys, Windstream Enterprise, Cato Networks and Edify.

Schuman shared data from PlanetOne’s annual partner survey. He noted that more than one-half of partners will increase their book of business with business the master agent in 2021. The company has also increased its headcount by 50% this year — adding more people than it did over the last four years. In particular, the company hired Chris Werpy as chief operating officer this summer.

We’ve seen similar stories of sales and staff growth in the master agent channel this year. MicroCorp spoke to us this summer about its new investments, and TCG dipped into M&A.

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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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