Cbeyond hired Long three years ago to beef up its focus on the channel as the provider began transitioning away from a legacy voice and data focus to cloud and managed services. Long is well-known in the competitive telecom sector, having led the channel programs at companies including GENBAND; fixed-wireless provider Airband; wholesale carrier Level 3 Communications Inc. after it bought Broadwing Corp.; and Focal Communications, which was purchased by Broadwing in early 2004.
Smith, meanwhile, has worked for Birch since 2002 (when it was Access Integrated Networks). He served as senior director of channel sales for some time until this past January, when he was promoted to vice president of dealer sales. Oddo said Birch considers the term "dealer" interchangeable with "agent."
'One Seamless Team'
When it comes to channel support, any structural changes would be for the better.
"We've got a sales support organization at Birch and Cbeyond has a sales support organization, and we're looking to combine those efforts and enhance them," Oddo said. "We're certainly not going to eliminate all sales support for one organization or another. ...Sales support is critical and dealers need special support."
Overall, Oddo predicts the combination of Birch and Cbeyond will only "strengthen the channel."
"These are two really good companies coming together, with a rich history of indirect dealer sales," he said. "We're excited about bringing together the two indirect teams...and making them one seamless team."
Oddo said Birch will update agents and Channel Partners as decisions are made. In the intervening months, he said, business stays as usual until closing: "Nothing will change on either side."
Finally, said Oddo, because Birch is assuming Cbeyond's agent contracts, "that should give [partners] comfort to keep doing business as usual with Cbeyond until closing, and hopefully afterwards."