More Than A Master Agent: PlanetOne Aims To Bring Partners Along With Its Cloud Success

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In 2016, PlanetOne stood out as a different kind of master agent. "Fifty percent of our sales were cloud, and the rest were network. That's never happened before," said CEO Ted Schuman.

Schuman, during his keynote at PlanetOne's Tech Tour in Mashantucket, Conn. on Wednesday, said the convergence of IT is driving customer buying habits, and partners are learning to speak the new language of cloud by selling more services and fewer products.

[Related: PlanetOne's Kristen Cunningham On Partner Recruitment And Telecom Opportunities Beyond Connectivity]  

"These [revenue] numbers didn't happen by accident. Partners made it happen," Schuman said, noting that solution providers are having "application-level" discussions with customers.  

OneConnect, Inc., a solution provider and PlanetOne partner based in Clifton Park, N.Y. is right there alongside PlanetOne. About half of its revenues come from cloud products, including hosted voice, said Molly Sawyer, vice president of business development for OneConnect.

"If I never have to sell another telecom circuit in my life, I'd be happy. It's much more interesting and there's more margin in [selling cloud]," she said. "But selling telecom is a really good basis for selling cloud."

Especially solutions like hosted voice, which is a native offering to any telecom agent partner since it's an evolution of legacy telecom infrastructure, Sawyer said.

"At this point, I can't think of why any partner wouldn’t procure a phone system as opposed to a hosted system," Sawyer said. "There's no reason to do anything on premise[s]."

The convergence between telecom and IT is also letting partners become the trusted, agnostic consultant to the end customer that partners have been striving to become for years, Schuman said.

"Today, you can't go into a CIO and pitch product. You have to figure out what they are using technology for in their business," Schuman said. "For that telecom agent, that used to pitch products, to go in and talk to customers about their technology at the application-level is what is creating the wins and where we see the most success."

But networking revenues were no slouch last year. In 2016, PlanetOne also sold more networking than it ever had before. The difference was that partners started selling a complete solution that packaged voice, connectivity, cloud, Schuman said.

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