Channel Partners Announces, Profiles 2012 Top 15 Channel Managers
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
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Posted on: 09/12/2012



 

ORLANDO — Channel Partners magazine on Wednesday unveiled the latest winners of its annual Top 15 Channel Managers awards contest during the general session of the Fall 2012 Channel Partners Conference & Expo.

The roster consists of carrier and master-agent channel managers, eight of whom are new to the Top 15. Of the seven making a reappearance, two are four-time winners and four are three-time winners.

“We are pleased to recognize these stand-out channel managers, whom readers considered their favorite out of more than five dozen nominees," said Khali Henderson, editor-in-chief of Channel Partners.

Each year since 2007, Channel Partners readers have voted for their top 15 channel managers. For the 2012 contest, agents, VARs, dealers, interconnects, brokers and consultants in July nominated 71 candidates; then, in an online ballot available July 17-Aug. 23, more than 700 of those qualified channel partners chose the final 15.

These channel leaders, revealed below, earned this recognition amid tough competition. One of the reasons likely is their thought leadership. A consistent theme among them, when prompted for predictions for the channel by 2013, was the strength of the indirect telecom sector. More customers than ever rely on channel partners, several said, and, as a result, more suppliers and carriers are pumping money and resources toward their indirect salespeople. That's good news for agents and VARs alike, particularly those focused on consultative selling, several channel managers said.

Read on for more input from the Top 15 Channel Managers of 2012, listed here in alphabetical order by last name. And click here to view the gallery highlighting the more personal and light-hearted sides of the Top 15 winners.

EDDIE ACOSTA
Channel Sales Manager
Zayo Group (formerly AboveNet)
Years in current position: 3
Years with current company: 6
Years in the indirect channel: 3
Annual revenue responsibility: $400,000

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? My responsiveness and ability to help partners close business.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? Focusing on relationship building and not so much on individual deals.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Fifteen-percent growth; continue to expand relationships.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? I believe more carriers will embrace the channel as way to expand their sales force and grow their margins.

NICKIE BECKSTEAD (three-time winner)
Senior Indirect Channel Manager
Integra Telecom
Years in current position: 4
Years with current company: 12
Years in the indirect channel: 4
Annual revenue responsibility: $180,000 in new MRR

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? Follow-through and commitment. I view agents as my own business partners and focus on us all succeeding together.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Consistency, ease of doing business, timely responses.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? The channel is continuing to evolve with new products available for agents to sell and market to their customers. It’s important for all of us (partners and carriers) to stay ahead of the curve and be the lead in keeping customers informed of services available to them.

ROBERT CAMARGO
Partner Sales Manager         
Commerce Consulting Corp (WTG)
Years in current position: One
Years with current company: 5.5
Years in the indirect channel: 5.5
Annual revenue responsibility: $600,000

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? Doing what needs to be done. Not because it’s necessarily your job, but because it’s what your partner needs.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? I’d be lying if I said I spearheaded any specific programs. I usually assist in execution of plans from the executive management team. I prefer to make changes in the channel by listening to our agent partners and making sure that their concerns are the ones being addressed. That’s been received very well.

What are some main goals for your channel program? The three Ss: Increase support, satisfaction and sales.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? With the growing cloud and UC movement, I believe that VARs will soon be the best-positioned players in our industry.

MAX CAPONEGRO
Manager, Agent Sales
TouchTone Communications
Years in current position: Since 2011
Years with current company: 9
Years in the indirect channel: 9
Past jobs in the indirect channel: 0
Annual revenue responsibility: $6 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? For a good portion of my career at TouchTone, I was in agent support, so I understand exactly what agents are going through when it comes to selling, provisioning and supporting an account. In this role, and also as a project manager, I have dealt with many account types including SMB, IVR companies and government. This experience has given me a lot of insight on the uniqueness of each customer and how important it is for me to not only provide for the agent, but to the customer as well. If the customer is happy, then the agent is happy. Sales is truly about support and understanding both the needs of your customer and agent. With this knowledge, I was easily able to transition into an agent sales role – one that both educates and supports agents at the same time. 

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? I worked closely with our pricing group and executive team to help expand our carrier options so that customers/agents have more choices when it comes to choosing an underlying carrier (and what would best fit their needs based on cost, quality and requirements).

What are some main goals for your channel program? Be responsive, competitive and deliver customer/agent satisfaction.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? On the voice side, I believe the channel will continue to transition into a SIP environment by not only the use of gateways, but by the use of SIP-enabled phone systems. Many of our partners selling premise-based phone systems are now seeing the benefits of converting/upgrading phone systems to SIP.

STEVEN CAWLEY (three-time winner)
Senior Indirect Channel manager
Integra Telecom
Years in current position: 10
Years with current company: 13
Years in the indirect channel: 13
Annual revenue responsibility: $324,000 in annual new MRR sales

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? I believe it’s the understanding of the channel and the respect I have for the channel partners and the courage it takes for each one of them to continue to open new doors and overcome the adversities they face every day with the economy today. Bottom line, they all know I’m here for them!

What are some main goals for your channel program? A. Incent partners to sell Integra, B. To be their first carrier of choice when responding to a customer’s need. C. Make it easier for them to get price quotes (MasterStream).

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? Growth.

J.P. DUNDAS
Senior Account Director
Nitel
Years in current position: 6 months
Years with current company: 6 months
Years in the indirect channel: 6 years
Annual revenue responsibility: $240,000

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? I separate myself by thinking of my name as a brand name. I put my name on the line and assure every agent or customer I speak with that I will deliver what I say I will. Agents can work with whomever they choose. They work with me because they trust me.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? Well, I started with a new company this year and really had to learn my business/products inside and out so that I could portray it to my agents/customers with confidence.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Become known as a top option for rural connectivity, IP bandwidth and hosted voice.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? I think we are going to see more and more resellers become dependent on cloud sales and larger bandwidth.

ROBERT R. HARRISON JR. (three-time winner)
Southwestern Regional Channel Manager
FreedomVoice Systems Inc.
Years in current position: 3.5
Years with current company: 3.5
Years in the indirect channel: More than 10
Annual revenue responsibility: $1.7 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? Relentless work ethic and I truly enjoy my work.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? Quarterly on-site visits with all my dealers; monthly sales calls; helped interview and hire new sales reps. What are some main goals for your channel program? Be available, night or day for my dealers; to equip my dealers with all the tools necessary to be successful; to teach them that our chosen field of work/career should and can be fun.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? Tremendous growth and success.

AMIR HOJJATNIA (four-time winner)
Regional Agent Manager
TelePacific Communications
Years in current position: 12
Years in current position: 12
Years with current company: 8
Years in the indirect channel: 10
Annual revenue responsibility: $1.755 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? I am honest and accessible. If a customer is asking for something that is unrealistic, I am going to tell them we can’t do it. Over the years that may have cost me some deals but I know in the long run, my integrity with my agents is the most important.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? We recently expanded our offerings and are now providing data center services, a new footprint in Texas and more. I am constantly communicating with my channel partners to make sure they think of TelePacific where opportunities arise in these areas.

What are some main goals for your channel program? I want more business from my existing channel partners by them selling new TelePacific services. I want my agents to move up-market now that we have become a known supplier in the marketplace. I want to go out and find new channel partners to help grow their business as well as mine.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? The channel is only getting stronger. Customers are more comfortable now than ever before buying from the indirect channel. The suppliers seem to be putting more and more resources in this area because of the growing success of the partner community. Most channel partners of mine are very technical so suppliers focused on cutting-edge services like data center/cloud, hosted voice, etc., are going to focus their time and effort on these individuals/agencies.

JUSTIN MARANO (three-time winner)
Senior Manager, Strategic Partner Development
Intelisys
Years in current position: 1
Years with current company: 1
Years in the indirect channel: 10
Annual revenue responsibility: $30 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? My commitment to honesty, respect, professionalism and, most importantly, to helping partners build and grow their residual revenue for their business.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Driving sales, top-line revenue and profit.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? I see business partners committing more to master agents since carrier channel programs are focusing more resources and support that way. There will also be an increase in revenue as business partners take advantage of commissions for “aaS" solutions that were previously not an option for them to offer their end users.

MELISSA ROSE
Agent Channel Manager, Optimum Business (Cablevision)
Cablevision/Optimum Business
Years in current position: 5
Years with current company: 5
Years in the indirect channel: 8

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? Diverse telecom background; multi-tasking abilities; quick turnaround with Q&A; always there to support my partners.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? Agent portal enhancements, reference sheets for product/pricing.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Increase revenue, show support to our partners, become more than a pin on the map.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? Success.

RYAN SCHENKEL
Sales Manager
Telecom Brokerage Inc. (TBI)
Years in current position: 3
Years with current company: 3
Years in the indirect channel: 2
Annual revenue responsibility:  $4 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? What makes me stand out as a channel manager is my ability to keep a cool and clear head even in difficult and stressful situations. For agents, this is their livelihood. Every deal that agents touch could have significant ramifications on their future earnings. I try to keep my agents and their customers’ goals at the forefront of my mind when providing assistance for their opportunities.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? I was an early adopter/fast follower of the Comcast indirect channel program and the overall expansion of cable companies within the channel over the last couple of years. Comcast brought a lift of agents to TBI and I began developing relationships with several of those agents from day one. With the help of the executives at TBI, we developed a strategy to help streamline orders and refine the process. This strategy has been modified and improved over the last couple years and continues to evolve.

What are some main goals for your channel program? To help my agent base continue to increase sales and move up market; continue to improve the overall experience that agents have with TBI; and strive to stay ahead of the curve in this ever-changing industry.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? There seems to be a new wave of product offerings within the industry every five to seven years or so. I think we are about to see that next wave come full circle. For example, cloud and VPLS offerings have been discussed in great detail and those products will continue to rise throughout 2013.

GENE SEHL (two-time winner)
Senior Manager – Indirect Sales
Integra Telecom
Years in current position: 2.5
Years with current company: 11
Years in the indirect channel: 2.5
Annual revenue responsibility: $330,000

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? If you make yourself easy to do business with, you have overcome a large hurdle in this industry.

What are some main goals for your channel program? We’d like to see year-over-year revenue growth, consistency with new product rollouts, and a competitive compensation model.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? Continued revenue growth as many end users are seeking the consultative-agent sales process, as well as increased revenue in the “cloud services" space.

MATTHEW SHARP
Director Channel Sales - Midwest
Broadvox
Years in current position: 4
Years with current company: 4
Years in the indirect channel: 9
Annual revenue responsibility: More than $1 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? I was an agent before becoming a channel manager/director, and I understand what the indirect agents and VARs value in the vendors they do business with.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? Over the past four years I have worked with product marketing in shaping the product line for our SIP trunking. Worked with VARs to educate their sales groups on SIP trunking and hosted VoIP.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Increase sales opportunities for my agents and VARs; educate the agents and VARs on SIP vs. hosted, and help them identify which product is right for their client; and grow our channel revenue dramatically through strategic relationships.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? VARs and agents will have to learn how to solutions-sell versus just selling on price or they will be left in the dust.

DAVID SHERMAN
Channel Manager
Spectrotel
Years in current position: 4
Years with current company: 4
Years in the indirect channel: 10
Annual revenue responsibility: More than $150,000

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? Premier service and support; quick turn-arounds on quotes, cost analyses or contracts; and always acting with integrity.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? Fiber EPL product rollout; Ethernet over Copper footprint expansion; energy offerings; SIP solutions; and agent/customer portal enhancements.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Continue to grow the channel and our agent community with quality business partners (larger, national customers and master agencies); increased volume of fiber applications and other high-bandwidth solutions; continued success exceeding both corporate objectives and personal goals. 

What are some of your predictions for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? Unfortunately, I foresee more financial setbacks for various carriers in the short run. More mergers and acquisitions will likely reduce the number of competitive carriers in the marketplace, while many new cloud providers emerge. High-end bandwidth solutions will be king as customers continue to test SIP and hosted platforms.

ERIC SOLOMON (four-time winner)
Senior Channel Manager
Windstream
Years in current position: 6
Years with current company: 6
Years in the indirect channel: 9
Annual revenue responsibility: $1.2 million

What makes you stand out as a top channel manager and leader? I do not approach my job as a channel manager from the perspective of a telecom sales rep. I am here to help my partners’ business succeed. When I take this approach, our success is directly tied to each other. I still need to be an expert on my product set and our industry, but this is just a tool to help our businesses succeed.

What key initiatives did you spearhead this year that culminated in improvements for your channel partners? My partners and I have scheduled quarterly strategy sessions that have allowed us to focus on our mutual goals. The net result has been increased revenue, larger opportunities and more satisfied agents.

What are some main goals for your channel program? Grow my channel partners’ revenue; a concentrated effort to work with our dedicated account management teams to retain partner business and control compression; help my partners continue to successfully close larger and more (solution-based) strategic accounts.

What's your prediction for the channel, overall, for 2012-2013? Consolidation will continue.