August 10, 2020
Extraordinary times call for a heroic agent response, according to the MicroCorp senior vice president of sales Christopher Shubert.
The Georgia-based company last month hired Shubert as its new sales leader. His appointment comes as MicroCorp undergoes a rebrand. The master agent has bolstered its partner support with a mix of new tools and staff. The enhancements are part of the “hero” theme that MicroCorp has been promoting recently.
“We need to truly be the hero that our partners can count on, that will help them in the evolution of their company and the evolution of how their customers are working through digital transformation,” Shubert said.
Shubert most recently worked for Converged Network Services Group (CNSG), which AppSmart bought late last year. He served as vice president of business development.
MicroCorp’s Christopher Shubert
Shubert, who works out of Oklahoma City, will lead a sales organization for the first time. He said the job presented an opportunity.
Shubert also praised MicroCorp CEO Karin Fields and president Phil Keenan.
“They’ve always run a very quality organization,” he told Channel Partners. “Great partners, great culture.”
Shubert, who grew up an ardent Spider-Man fan, has worked in various areas of the channel. He spent more than a decade at Windstream before moving to Telnes Broadband. He joined CNSG after a two-year stint at Nitel.
As part of the rebrand, MicroCorp revamped its Nautilus project management and commissions system as Eeko Systemz. The company this spring unveiled a front-line tool called Eeko Hero.
Shubert said MicroCorp wants to redesign its provider library and learning tools. He said the new technology complements the company’s historical emphasis on a “people-powered network.”
The company also has been building on the people side. Matt Sanders joined in June as vice president of MicroCorp Cloud. Trisha Coyle joined in June as a senior partner manager. And Bruce Guemmer became a sales engagement manager for the company this month.
“If they want to reach out to a human being that’s going to take care of their needs, they’ve got that. On the other hand, if they want to be able to do everything themselves and have access to all the best information on the front end to close their deals, that’s where Eeko Hero comes in. We always want to offer that choice,” Shubert said.
Shubert said the MicroCorp wants to keep the agent experience deeply personable.
“We want them to feel like they’re a member of the MicroCorp family. That they’ve got folks that they know and can trust … and that they know that we’re not just a master agency,” Shubert said. “We’re not a clearing house for their commissions. We’re their hero that they can count on to help them get their business closed and get through 2020, and thrive even beyond that.”
Work from Home
It’s difficult to talk about 2020 without talking about the pandemic and subsequent remote worker influx. Shubert said the channel has kept moving forward despite a challenging adaptation.
Keep up with resources for supporting partners and customers during the COVID-19 crisis.
“COVID-19 impacted us in the sense that we had to overnight become our own work-from-home organization. I would say most of the master agencies were able to do that,” he said. “That changes your perspective. Now conference bridges are a thing of the past. Everyone is on a video call every single day. We can’t do the traditional conferences and events that are so common in the channel. Everything had to alter overnight to a virtual strategy, and MicroCorp was able to do that without missing a beat.”
Shubert addressed remote working concerns on his YouTube channel back in the spring.
Yet agents may need to change their business model if they wish to prosper in the long-term. For example, Shubert said SMB-focused partners are suffering from a hard-hit market.
“You have to evolve into mid-level and enterprise and evolve into selling cloud and UCaaS and contact center and SD-WAN, and all those newer services instead of just being a cable provider,” he said. “Cable and SMB will still be a cornerstone of what we do, but we’ve had to evolve because those businesses may not be open right now.”
He said leading partners use multiple suppliers and solutions. Moreover, they don’t rely on on selling access. Office 365, desktop as a service and other “next-gen” technologies now function as the foot in the door.
“In fact, access is now becoming the …… pull-through. The customer is getting engaged on a UCaaS solution or a cloud solution, and that’s bringing in the SD-WAN and the network. It used to be completely opposite.”
Shubert said MicroCorp has attracted more partner types than just the typical telecom agent, including MSPs.
And just as MicroCorp has encouraged the traditional agent to sell more than access, it is persuading MSPs to consider access. Shubert said that while the MSP may specialize in a technology like security or UCaaS, carrier services can function as a strategic advantage.
Here’s our list of channel people on the move in July.
“I think the MSP/VAR marketplace has been a mystery that multiple master agencies and the channel as a whole have been trying to crack over the last five or six years,” he said. “We’ve made a really good home for MSPs because we help them to understand that it’s not just about getting them to sell carrier services. It’s about helping them understand how they can take carrier services to actually lock out other competitors and become a more full-service offering.”
‘The Channel is Alive’
According to Shubert, MicroCorp is pushing to be the “premier alternative master agency” in the U.S. Although he tipped his hat to MicroCorp’s competition, he said the companies vary in how they treat their agents. MicroCorp seeks to define itself as a company focused on partner relationships, enablement and growth.
“We recognize that we have some outstanding competition out there that has their fit, and we wish them absolutely the best, and we think they’re all quality companies out there. But I do think there is some perception among some partners — that they feel master agencies are just there to satisfy commitments with carriers, and that they are, for lack of a better word, pushing paper,” he said.
Shubert offered partners a word of hope. He entered his career around the Sept. 11 attacks and worked during the 2008 recession. He said high-impact events like these spur people to adapt. The survivors will adopt new tech and uses that tech to help their customers adapt.
“Don’t lose hope. The channel is alive. The products are there. You can find a way to thrive, even in a downturn economy,” Shubert said.
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