PlanetOne is growing revenue 22 percent, per year, and going after MSPs "almost exclusively."

Craig Galbraith, Editorial Director

November 9, 2017

4 Min Read
PlanetOne Tech Tour Scottsdale Panel

(pictured above, left to right: Masergy’s Chris Werpy, CenturyLink’s Lisa Miller and Rackspace’s John Engates)

PLANETONE TECH TOUR — “Our success is directly linked to yours. We’re really humbled by it.”

Ted Schuman, CEO of master agent PlanetOne Communications, had plenty of kind words for the roughly 250 partners in attendance on Wednesday in Scottsdale, Arizona, not only the company’s hometown, but also the last stop on its 2017 Tech Tour.

Schuman touted PlanetOne’s 22 percent year-over-year revenue growth, noting that the company’s sales now are doubling about every three years. And that’s creating opportunities to hire more people.


PlanetOne’s Ted Schuman

“We’re looking for sales engineers, channel managers and senior level executive management. With the growth trajectory we’re on, we need to [fill those roles],” he said.

Managed service providers (MSPs) will make up a lot of the growth in PlanetOne’s partner community in the coming years. The master hired a director of solution engineering this year whose primary goal will be to attract MSPs.

“We’re very aggressively after the MSPs,” Schuman told Channel Partners. “They really embrace the recurring revenue model. It’s much easier to talk to an MSP about incrementally adding new revenue to the program with selling traditional telecom services than it is to a VAR who’s selling hardware for a living. And those are the companies we are pursuing almost exclusively.”

In beta testing now for a few months, PlanetOne is rolling out a new program for its “High Rollers,” those partners who are growing revenue with PlanetOne by at least $100,000 each year. These top partners will get one-on-one meetings with decision makers from the master agent’s preferred providers. As part of these direct partnerships, partners will have access to money to host “swanky, high-end events” that will help them drive even more revenue.

“We’re investing more in those partnerships and giving back to them. And in giving back, I don’t mean just in raising commissions or throwing more money at them. We want to build the value of the partnership and that engagement between the partner and the resources of PlanetOne,” Schuman said.

And there will be a handful of new providers from which to choose in 2018. PlanetOne keeps a lid on how many suppliers it allows to join as preferred providers – it has fewer than two dozen – but M&A activity this year has opened up a few slots. AT&T, BroadSky Networks, RingCentral and Telstra – all companies that PlanetOne’s partners have requested –  will sign on for 2018.

This broad selection of companies was reflected in a panel at the event featuring John Engates, CEO of Rackspace; Lisa Miller, president, wholesale, indirect and alliances, CenturyLink; and Chris Werpy, SVP, solutions and services, Masergy.

The panel was asked about how new technologies, particularly SD-WAN and new cloud opportunities, are impacting their legacy businesses — something most partners in the audience are facing as well. The panelists agreed that …

… the needs of the customer have usurped the advances in tech when it comes to prioritizing how you talk to clients.

“The new reality for us is mutlicloud, not deployment in one data center … it’s meeting customers where they are in terms of infrastructure, geographies and business units,” said Engates. “The old world was simple; today it’s a very complicated landscape. Security has thrown in a wrench to make it even more complicated.”

“All those things we used to talk about, we don’t talk about anymore,” said Werpy. “When you go into the enterprise, it’s about the application stack. … if you look at the way enterprises are trying to make decisions today … this world of trying to lead with technology has been thrown out. Customers don’t necessarily know what questions to ask or understand everything that’s coming at them… and that’s where the opportunity [for the channel] is.”

And that opportunity is easier for partner businesses that can more quickly react to the changing technology landscape.

“The smaller, more nimble companies can take advantage of the ‘what’s new’ very quickly,” said Miller. “For partners, you get to leverage everything [suppliers] have and go out to a CTO or CIO and … figure out what really plays in the various scenarios (old vs. new companies, large vs. small, etc.). … We have to solve how our customers move and adapt to that. Partners are in the middle going, ‘Whoa’ … so that human aspect is one of those challenges, to be able to educate our partners and our customers.”

Sports fans in the audience got a treat — ESPN’s Chris Berman regaled them with behind-the-scenes stories from the cable network. He also had some business advice that parallels what he’s done behind the anchor desk for many years: “Talk ‘to’ or ‘with’ your audience, not ‘at’ them,” he said.

Read more about:


About the Author(s)

Craig Galbraith

Editorial Director, Channel Futures

Craig Galbraith is the editorial director for Channel Futures, joining the team in 2008. Before that, he spent more than 11 years as an anchor, reporter and managing editor in television newsrooms in North Dakota and Washington state. Craig is a proud Husky, having graduated from the University of Washington. He makes his home in the Phoenix area.

Free Newsletters for the Channel
Register for Your Free Newsletter Now

You May Also Like