CRN Exclusive: Intelisys To Address Impact Of ScanSource Acquisition, New Opportunities For Partners At Channel Connect 2016

All eyes will be on Intelisys this week as the master agent kicks off Channel Connect in Napa, the company's largest networking and educational event for partners since IT distributor ScanSource announced it would acquire Intelisys.

ScanSource in August revealed plans to buy Intelisys for $83.6 million plus earn-outs. The move was a first of its kind in the channel -- no distributor had purchased a master agency before -- and partners have been anxious to understand how the converging VAR and agent channels will impact their telecom businesses.

Intelisys partners at Channel Connect will hear first-hand what's changing, what is staying the same, and how the acquisition will impact the channel landscape from both ScanSource and Intelisys executives on tap at the event, according to Andrew Pryfogle, senior vice president of cloud transformation for Petaluma, Calif.-based Intelisys.

[Related: ScanSource-Intelisys Deal Could Kickstart More Master Agent-Distributor Partnerships]

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"There's clearly things that will be changing that partners will get to learn about this this week, but probably more importantly, [they will learn] about the things that are staying very consistent," Pryfogle said. "Intelisys remains all about helping our partners grow their businesses."

Onward Communications, a Portland, Ore.-based telecom and cloud consulting firm and Intelisys Platinum Partner believes the new relationship between ScanSource and Intelisys is positive for the channel, but is hoping to see lingering partner anxiety about the acquisition dissipate at Channel Connect.

"There's a lot of trepidation still in the channel about the relationship," said Tricia Ward, founder of Onward Communications. "I think what I'm most looking forward to is seeing an easing of that concern as partners get to meet ScanSource folks and hear about how telecom partners and VARs can be in a symbiotic relationship."

Many Intelisys partners are eager to hear how the change of ownership -- from a privately-held master agency to a global IT product provider -- will help accelerate their growth, and what opportunities will be available to agent partners that weren't possible before, Pryfogle said.

Intelisys will spend time this week highlighting the new sales opportunities that the acquisition will enable as the VAR and agent channel converge at a pace that's been faster than predicted, according to Pryfogle. But this convergence won't change the payment model that agents have grown accustomed to, he said.

"There will be more resources and support to help accelerate agent growth," Pryfogle said. "This acquisition really brings a level of credibility to this business model that outsiders didn't fully appreciate before."

While this year's Channel Connect will still be dominated by Intelisys' traditional agent channel community, the event will also have more VARs in attendance than ever, Pryfogle said.

"It's just more evidence that these two communities are blending," he said. "It's showing VARs that this business model is real … and VARs also want to know how they can pivot their business to more recurring revenue to create a far more sustainable business."

Just as VARs are growing more interested in selling telecom and cloud services, some agent partners, like Onward Communications, are also interested in the VAR business model.

"VARs are not accustomed to our type of sales, and we aren't necessarily accustomed to their model, so it will be really interesting, coming from ScanSource, what the anatomy of their typical sale is," Ward said.

Education, just like in past years, will be a big focus for this year's Channel Connect. This year, ScanSource will be bolstering Intelisys' partner education efforts by providing more resources and funding for these programs, Pryfogle said.

"We are really doubling down on our education strategy," he said.

In addition to education, Intelisys is still going strong with its loan programs for partners -- the Partner Investment and Advanced Commissions Programs -- which are now being financially backed by ScanSource.

"It only makes sense to open this even wider, and put the strength of ScanSource behind these very successful programs," Mike Baur, CEO of ScanSource said in a statement last week.

Intelisys will also share more information about Super9, its live partner training program that Intelisys launched in April that included nine hand-selected partners out of Intelisys' community of over 2,000 sales partners. The organizations selected are seeing great success in selling clouds services.

If any channel organizations can handle convergence, its agent partners, Pryfogle said. Intelisys considers its sales partners "agents of change," he added.

"We want partners to know that this is the right place to grow their businesses," Pryfogle said. "If they felt like their investments were protected before, they are even more protected now. This is not a change of what we've been doing -- it’s a doubling down on the model that our sales partner community has grown so dependent on."