July 19, 2022
Christopher Shubert is now vice president of channel sales, earning a promotion from regional vice president of channel sales for the South. Shubert was MicroCorp’s senior vice president of sales before AppDirect bought the company and merged it with its AppSmart division. AppDirect bought several technology solutions distributors (formerly known as master agents), including WTG, Telegration and CNSG. Shubert said his appointment as the leader of AppSmart’s channel sales reflects an integration of the purchased companies that has already long been in process.
AppSmart’s Chris Shubert
“We brought all these companies together and brought them together with a single system and single philosophy,” Shubert told Channel Futures. “Me moving into this role is just the next piece of that: AppSmart moving into [a place] where we’re not a many-tentacled beast, but a streamlined, focused organization dedicated to helping our advisers achieve the next step in their evolution.”
Here’s our list of channel people on the move in June.
He’ll report to Renee Bergeron, AppSmart’s senior vice president and general manager. Bergeron praised Shubert for his knowledge and expertise in the channel, as well as his enthusiasm.
AppSmart’s Renée Bergeron
“Bringing all U.S. sales into a single entity is part of a larger AppSmart plan to help advisers grow their business by diversifying their revenue stream with a full-stack portfolio of solutions,” Bergeron said. “Just as we’ve supported that effort by simplifying business processes, a single sales structure simplifies our relationships with our advisers.”
Shubert said AppSmart has reorganized its sales structure into two main groups that both report to him. The first group focuses on established AppSmart sales partners that need help scaling their businesses. Senior channel sales managers and national sales managers will look after these “core” technology advisers.
The second group contains channel sales managers that specifically target new partners. Shubert said some of those agents have historically partnered with a different TSD but want to try AppSmart. Others are entering the channel for the first time.
Shubert said it made sense to give these newer partners their own team.
“We found that it’s not beneficial to take a top senior channel sales manager who’s working with your top revenue producers and put 700 partners with them, which is kind of the norm in the TSD world,” he said. “It’s better to have them laser-focused on their top producers and then develop a pure channel that perfect for developing partners. Those skill sets are very different. And we want to make sure that we got the right folks doing the right job.”
Shubert said AppSmart’s partners tend to break down into three categories: traditional, transformative and next-gen.
The traditional folks focus on voice and data services. Shubert said AppSmart has built out the supplier contracts and channel management that they require.
“They built their careers on that. That’s what they know and love, and that’s what they’re going to do. We love those folks. And for them, we have what I would consider is the traditional table stakes model that every TSD has,” he said.
The middle “transformative” group, which Shubert said is the largest, is working hard to evolve beyond voice and data. For those partners, Shubert said AppSmart has made more education and advanced sales people available.
Lastly, the next-gen firms are using the full scope of offerings on a 600-plus supplier AppSmart marketplace.
“When they attack a customer, they’re attacking the full wallet share. Yes, they do the voice and the data, but they’re doing the security. They’re doing the managed services, software, energy and the hyperscalers. Anything that they can do as a service and translate into a monthly bill they’re doing,” Shubert said.
AppSmart is unique from its TSD rivals in its use of a marketplace. According to Shubert, the end customer ultimately procures the technology through the AppSmart marketplace, having received consulting and possibly a technology road map from the technology adviser partner.
“This isn’t just like going on Amazon and clicking on things,” Shubert said. “This is a guided journey by …
… that adviser. And I think that’s going to be a very powerful tool for consultants.”
Agents recently weighed in on the marketplace trend during a conversation about Upstack’s recent deal with Lumen. Many of them, like Matthew Toth of C3 Technology Advisors, feel that customers are looking for transactional routes like marketplaces.
“They want convenience and immediacy. And they hate salespeople. If it’s commoditizable, it’ll be bought in a marketplace at some point. No question,” Toth said last month. “The stuff that we think is even mildly strategic could go that way too. It’s not all doom and gloom, but we all need to focus on what truly makes us different, because the rest of the stuff is going to be sold by ‘Micro-AppSmart-azon.’”
Shubert said that he felt a mix of excitement and nervousness when he learned AppDirect was acquiring MicroCorp. On one hand, he said the deal could help Atlanta-based MicroCorp scale. On the other hand, MicroCorp would be integrating with several other properties AppDirect had acquired.
“We were a combination of multiple companies, multiple philosophies and multiple systems. And having gone through a lot of mergers and acquisitions in my career, I knew what that was going to entail. And that could have been five, six, seven years of just pure pain and never getting all the organizations on the same page,” Shubert said, “I’ve seen that happen for the companies I’ve worked for and unfortunately for some companies that I’ve supported it. It doesn’t always go well.”
However, Shubert described the integration process at AppSmart as a fun experience. He said the initiative to “get everyone swimming in the right direction” started more than a year ago. One of those steps was combining the various organizations’ back offices, which Shubert said took nine months.
“That’s unheard of. Normally those types of things take years to get done. The organization came together really, really, really fast,” he said.
However, Shubert said various sales programs and regions existed in the business, sometimes creating confusion for partners.
“Now that we are unified under one sales leader and one sales velocity, we hope that things will be speedier, simpler for our partners to understand, and that they’ll always know where to go for support,” he said.
AppSmart wrote in its announcement that it plans to “grow and expand its channel sales efforts.” Shubert’s appointment comes at a time in which some of the main faces at the San Francisco-based company are changing.
Director of strategic provider management Julie Dzubay – also a WTG alum – left in October and later took a job with Telarus. Last month, Shubert’s predecessor, Tim Basa, who joined AppSmart from Telegration, also moved to Telarus. Mayka Rosales-Peterson, who previously led marketing for AppSmart’s managing partner program, recently announced her departure from the company. Brittany Caito, who filled Dzubay’s role as director of strategic provider management, this month took a job with Nextiva.
Shubert said AppSmart has now entered into an era of stability.
“We’ve had all these disparate companies, and we brought them all together. We’ve gotten all the ugly stuff out the way,” he said. “And right now, 2022 for us is about providing some stability for the experience for our partners and allowing them to scale.”
Shubert said he wants to change the industry for the better. For him, that means making agents and their distribution partners more beloved by customers. He said the evolution of technology is contributing to that change.
“I grew up in the era of selling tons of services that break on a daily basis. As we move into cloud and into software services, we’re selling things that don’t break on a daily basis. We’re selling things that change the way companies operate at their most fundamental level. That’s fun; that’s exciting,” he said.
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