CRN Exclusive: Intelisys Goes Global, Expands Sales Partner Model Into Europe

Master agent Intelisys Communications is taking its two-tier channel model international, with the opening of a U.K.-based business aimed at supporting European-based agent partners. The master agent is also expanding its supplier portfolio to include both local carriers and technology partners in the U.K., as well as suppliers with international offerings.

Many overseas agent partners aren't familiar with the channel model of working with a carrier through a master agent. U.S.-based agent partners with international clients often have to work directly with carriers while doing business outside of the U.S.

Intelisys' European presence is intended to allow the master agent to duplicate its sales model for channel partners overseas. Through the new office, U.S.-based agents will be able to better support their clients outside the U.S. with local and international telecom, connectivity and cloud offerings, according to Intelisys. The new office will also allow the master agent to reach new partner communities across the pond.

[Related: Verizon Taps Partners To Aid Global Expansion, Announces APAC Partner Program]

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"To be able to take that experience to a new market, where there is pent-up demand, and supply that bridge between suppliers looking to grow their base and sales partners looking for the ability to sell their customers whatever they want, and be compensating in an attractive way, is an exciting opportunity for us," said J.R. Cook, senior vice president of business development at Intelisys, who is leading the master agent's international charge.

Agnostic Networks, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based telecommunications consultancy and Intelisys partner, is working with the master agent to address the needs of its U.S.-based customers that are expanding internationally, said Bob McCallister, president and co-founder of Agnostic Networks.

"Network administrators are being challenged to procure infrastructure in foreign markets in which they are not familiar," McCallister said. "As specialists in this area, we have seen a significant growth in companies seeking our guidance in the international market. As Intelisys grows globally, we anticipate our access to carrier partners will increase as a result."

Petaluma, Calif.-based Intelisys has tapped Stephen Hackett to head up its International efforts in the U.K., with plans to expand into Germany. Hackett is a 15-year telecom veteran who most recently served as channel sales manager for NFON UK Ltd., a London-based cloud telecommunications provider.

From his U.K. office, Hackett will be able to help agent partners navigate European telecom regulations and carrier contracts, Cook said.

"We aren't from the U.K., so bringing on someone who has been on the supplier side, has opened up an agency himself and worked for a VAR in the European market, we are really looking to him to figure out the best way to go about this," Cook said. "We are going to build a plan around partners to meet the needs specific to that market."

As business customers grow their companies beyond the boundaries of the U.S., Intelisys' U.S.-based sales partners need a better way to support end user customers overseas. Outside of the U.S, the two-tier distribution model -- the master agent working with supplier and agent partners -- hasn't existed, explained Dana Topping, co-owner of Intelisys.

"Everything in Europe has been direct from the VAR or systems integrator, from the carrier to the end customer, and they were paying one-time fees. Residuals that agent partners are used to in the U.S. aren't built-in," Topping said.

For the past six months, Intelisys has been hard at work contacting domestic carriers in Europe like British Telecom (BT) and Deutsche Telecom, and introducing them to the benefits of the master agent channel model, Topping said.

Intelisys has also been working with some of its international supplier partners -- like NTT and Verizon -- to encourage global channel growth overseas.

"We see the opportunity to come in, build our infrastructure, get to the carriers, and go after the sales partners in this area. … It's time for this to happen," Topping said.

The master agent is in discussions with more than 20 supplier partners for its U.K. business, and Intelisys has also begun signing up agent partners, Cook said.

The expansion will allow Intelisys to manage carrier contracts and accept commissions on behalf of sales partners in the U.K. Some supplier partners in the U.K. are also interested in outsourcing the management of its agent partner channel to Intelisys, he said.

U.K.-based sales partners will also have access to all the tools that U.S. agent partners can use, such as Cloud Services University and the Intelisys Advanced Commission Program, Topping said.

"Everything that Intelisys has done here in the U.S. that has added value to partners is being made available in a format specific to the community in the U.K.," Cook said.

U.S.-based partners with business customers located in the U.K. will still continue to work with Intelisys' U.S.-based business, Cook said.

Down the road, Intelisys plans to expand into the bustling Asia/Pacific telecom market.

"Sitting in the U.K. now, we are halfway there," Cook said.