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MHO Networks VP Plans Channel Changes, East Coast Expansion

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Edward Gately**Editor’s Note: Click here to see which channel people were on the move in February.**

Expanding to the East Coast, becoming a household name within the business and partner communities, and onboarding more master agents are all goals of Jamie Minner, MHO Networks’ new vice president of sales.

Minner was brought on board to help develop and expand MHO’s presence. He previously was Momentum Telecom’s vice president of sales, forming their retail sales strategy and implementation process. He also previously held vice president positions at Cbeyond and Comcast.

MHO Networks' Jamie MinnerMHO is a wide-area network WAN and internet solutions provider offering high-speed data services. Its independently owned network is designed on Federal Communications Commission-licensed point-to-point microwave radio architecture covering many metro areas.

Its existing markets include Denver, Southern California, Phoenix, Dallas/Fort Worth and the San Francisco Bay Area. Its sales have been strictly through the channel for the past eight years.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Minner shares his goals for his first two to three months, and says partners are excited about the coming changes in partner strategy and product.{ad}

Channel Partners: Tell us about MHO’s partner ecosystem. What types of companies does it work with and does it currently have a partner program?

Jamie Minner: MHO does currently have a partner program and the ecosystem has essentially been around smaller partners that have more intimate relationships with the customer where MHO can deal directly with the customer or ask intimate questions to get an idea of how the customer is going to be using the broadband circuit and what is best suited for that customer. This is my second stint at MHO; the first was to do consulting work around building the partner program in southern California, and I left to take a job where we built an entire sales organization at Momentum Telecom. And through that process and through the relationships that I’ve made throughout the industry, MHO wanted to do something very similar, and came back and said, “Hey, let’s do this full time. So our focus now is going to be taking the existing program and enhancing it through new products, as well as through making it a little more efficient to work with MHO.

CP: What’s your take on MHO’s current channel strategy? Are changes needed?

JM: Definitely. MHO currently has partners now that are very loyal and do a lot of business with MHO, but for eight years, the product really has not changed, so that partner community has become a little stagnant. So our hope now is to …

{vpipagebreak}

… shake up the product a little bit – not change what we’re currently doing – but add to it so that the partners going forward will have kind of a newfound energy to sell MHO. The current state is a little stagnant, it’s complacent, and looking at it over the last week, we’ve really got to shake things up a little bit. So we’re going to get there through new partner incentives, through new product, new marketing, things of that nature, and adding some folks that are industry veterans that will bring a lot of credibility to the partner program over the next 60 to 90 days.

CP: How do you plan to help partners sell more easily and more efficiently?

JM: Right now, if a partner wants to quote a deal with MHO, it’s very difficult. You’ve got to call an MHO sales rep, you have to wait on line of sight, you’ve got to go through a questionnaire of anywhere from 10 to 50 questions, and to get that quote can be a little cumbersome. So my hope and desire is to build an automated quoting system for the partner base that will automate line of sight, it will automate the quote itself, it can co-brand a quote, and take the human element out of it as much as it can without disrupting the small-company-community feel that MHO has today. So from an efficiency standpoint, I want the partner and customer to be able to quote [more quickly].

I also want the product to be easier to work with in the sense that we can service more people. Right now, it’s a very niche product with what is being offered today, and by changing up that product a little bit, adding to it, we’re going to be able to service more customers and making it easier for our partners to sell our product. Pricing is going to be coming down a little bit as well.{ad}

CP: You said MHO has been a 100 percent channel company. Is that going to change moving ahead?

JM: We will continue with the channel, yes, and we will grow our channel. I will be bringing in someone who has had a lot of experience, a lot of contacts in the industry … but, we will build a direct sales organization as well. It will compete against the channel I suppose in some markets, but it will become our go-to-market strategy until the channel gets more developed in the markets that we’re not in or we’re not selling in that space. We’ve got presence today in Phoenix and Dallas, but we don’t have a sales organization, so I will look to do direct sales in those markets until we get the channel established.   

CP: Have you received feedback from partners? What are they telling you?

JM: I spent (last) week in southern California and everyone is very excited about the new offerings that we’re going to have out, they’re very excited about the reduced pricing on some of these products. The partners that MHO has today are very loyal. What this is going to do is allow us to go after the larger master agents. Today, MHO has a relationship with WTG; it’s really the only major master agent [relationship we] have, and we’ll be looking at expanding that master-agent base to others. And as we build out these markets and get traction, our goal overall is to …

{vpipagebreak}

… take this product nationwide in the next five years. The partners today are very excited about the prospect of being able to sell in a multi-location situation. Today, we are limited by geographic territories and hopefully going forward with our strategy, we’ll be to service more area.  

CP: What do you plan to accomplish in your first six months in this position? What sort of timelines are you looking at in terms of channel program expansion and strategy?

JM: We’re going to be very careful about how we do it. Today, MHO is a profitable company and we’re going to keep it that way — so we won’t go and try to spend a lot and dig ourselves a hole. Our first move is going to be to hire a new director of channel, a position they have not had in the past that covers nationwide or at least the existing markets. So we will hire that position and make some enhancements to the product within the first 60 to 90 days. So the first thing to do will be to solidify our strategy within the channel. I’d love to have a new master signed within 90 days; I think that’s realistic.

CP: What are you looking for in a director of channel?

JM: First and foremost is finding someone that understands everything is not baked yet and has the mindset to be able to help build it as opposed to it’s an inhibitor to them. No. 2 is relationships — they’ve got to have existing relationships that we can go talk to, mutual ones that MHO already has as well as new ones they can introduce MHO to. And No. 3, just experience selling through the channel. As you well know, it’s very difficult to onboard a partner, and get them to sell and teach them about a product, especially with a company they had no idea who they’re dealing with. Those are the three big things I’m looking for. {ad}

CP: How will MHO’s channel strategy and channel program look in three to five years?

JM: Right now, we are strictly on the West Coast, from Dallas to Denver, San Francisco, Orange County and Phoenix. I’d love to see us in the Northeast. I don’t know if we’ll ever go into a city like New York, but a Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami, Charlotte — I’d love to see an East Coast presence. And … this person I’m looking at bringing on as director of channel, as well as myself, we have a lot of contacts on the East Coast. I think in three to five years, you could see a fully staffed channel program in existing markets with networks being built in those East Coast cities I just mentioned, with onboarding some of these East Coast agents that we’ve got contacts with today.

We want to make MHO a household name within the business and partner community, and be thought of as fiber in the sky, an alternative to Comcast. We’re not going to play in the same ballpark as a Comcast, and drive the cost down and ruin the market. In our opinion, Comcast is ruining the market with their pricing and it’s only hurting them and everyone else. To have a healthy product, you’ve got to have good competition and everyone has to be successful. We want to play in a market that we’re known for; we don’t necessarily want to drive the price down, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not going to be at a competitive price.


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