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January 1, 2002

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Partner Channel: Venicom Beams Up Success with Data Focus

By Tara Seals

Posted: 1/2002

Partner Channel

Venicom Beams Up Success with Data Focus

By Tara Seals
Venicom’s Scottsdale, Ariz. office is one of six.
President and CEO Rob Goble says the company
succeeds because agents do what they’re supposed to– sales and marketing.Venicom Inc. launched its trek through the universe of telecom in 1999 by catering to the IP enhanced services segment, boldly going where no agency really had gone before.Two years and a 5,000 percent revenue increase later, the master agency continues to seek out new services and new segments, proving a traditional agency model can succeed in an increasingly high-tech world. President and CEO Rob Goble says Venicom has achieved success partly by letting agents do what they’re supposed to do — sales and marketing. With an original target client base of tier-two ISPs, CLECs and e-commerce companies, and with applications like frame relay, ATM, international private line, web hosting and development and IP services, Venicom faced the difficult task of building a subagent sales force. In advanced data applications, very few agents had expertise. Agents weren’t selling many sophisticated applications at the time, so carrier-based engineering support was elusive. Rather than require extensive technical certifications or training to fill the knowledge gap, Venicom hired technical and network engineers to provide support in-house as needed. “We embraced data when traditional agencies were focusing on long distance,” says Goble. “We brought [engineers] over to create an environment where subagents could compete at any level while affiliated with us, because they had access to our resources for support.”
“We embraced data when traditional agencies were focusing on long distance.”
–Rob Goble.
President and CEO,
Venicom Inc.  The agency is designed to provide support in presales, design, engineering and pricing. An agent can turn an opportunity completely over to the support structure and still makethe commission. “Our whole goal was to provide an infrastructure so that if you are an agent that’s been selling long distance for the past few years and you know nothing, all you need to do is partner with Venicom and we teach you how to identify opportunities even within your own client base,” Goble adds. As a sales manager at local services- focused Inter-Tel.Net Inc., Goble “pleaded and begged with upper management to let me create an agent program.” After putting together proposals and successfully test-marketing the concept with his own sales force, Goble was chagrined to learn the company decided not to implement the program. So Goble left to strike out on his own. While running the business out of his house, he hired executives from Cable & Wireless USA, Qwest Communications International Inc. and Global Crossing Ltd. to help develop Venicom.The brain trust paid off. Today Venicom has offices in Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City and Scottsdale, Ariz., and Berlin, Germany.Venicom also is a Qwest partner advisory board member and platinum UUNet partner, and has received numerous industry awards. It also enjoyed thousand-fold revenue growth in 2001. “How much long distance do you have to sell to equal the same dollar amount as data?” asks Goble by way of explanation. “Our volume is huge in 12 months where other agents have had to work five years or more in long distance for the same revenue.” The Venicom client base also is a factor, he says. “To survive in the market, we … went after industries and clients, large Fortune 500 clients, that agents would not typically go after,” he says. Two large accounts are pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. and Seibel Systems Inc. “The first challenge is to prove that as an agent, we can handle a large account, that we have a sophisticated technical team that exceeds their in-house knowledge, that we have the operations personnel,” says Goble. “We come in with technical expertise and knowledge of all the carriers and knowledge of routing, latency, ports, good combinations of carriers to use based on geography, capacity, etc. — we look at the full picture and propose the best option.” The difficult market has actually created opportunity for Venicom, which also evaluates networks, designing and proposing more efficient network management. “After Wall Street went sour, all of the sudden we had clients coming back and asking us to reduce their departmental expenses, so our focus has shifted based on those demands,” he adds. “Those are results they can see in the same quarter. You have to be nimble and quick.”

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