Two master agents have made some key hires at the end of the year, capping off a rash of 2014 hiring activity among several such companies. The various personnel announcements underscore the legacy telecom sector’s jump from providing commodity connectivity to offering holistic, problem-solving services – not just through agents and consultants, but also through IT-centric VARs and MSPs.
Reflecting that trend, CarrierSales and Intelisys are the latest to add some familiar names to their employee rosters as they expand. For CarrierSales, the expansion comes in terms of expertise, with inContact’s Jon Heaps now serving as vice president of sales. For Intelisys, the expansion provides both know-how and geography – Mark Phaneuf comes from XO Communications to oversee partner support and recruitment in the Northeast, while Eddie Acosta joins from Windstream to perform the same duties in the south central states.
CarrierSales, founded in 2001 and based in Utah, said late last week it has appointed Heaps as vice president of sales. Partners know Heaps well from his years at inContact, a channel-centric provider of contact center platforms, among other companies. All told, Heaps has worked in sales, marketing and business management for more than 20 years. At CarrierSales, he is responsible for initiatives related to telecom, mobility, cloud and data as his new employer makes calculated moves to combine network and IT services.
“Bringing Jon on board is the next step in our growth and evolution,” said Richard Murray, president of CarrierSales.
Indeed, two of Heaps’ top goals for 2015 are to broaden CarrierSales’ focus on contact center and mobility platforms – the former as the market proves a prime opportunity for agents, VARs and MSPs who emphasize a consultative, rather than transactional, approach; and the latter as CarrierSales capitalizes on its October acquisition of fellow master agency CMS, which concentrated on wireless services and mobility management.
“Rather than being all things to all people, we look to set ourselves apart in our customer engagement model and the ability for our partners to fulfill real-world business needs with a diverse and tactical portfolio,” Heaps said. “I’ve never been as excited as I am now to be a part of this industry.”
Meanwhile, California’s Intelisys is continuing its own trajectory with the hiring of Phaneuf and Acosta. The two climb on board as Intelisys, one of the industry’s oldest master agencies (it just turned 20), tops off 2014 with several strategic hires: the company this year nabbed Windstream and Nitel veteran Anne Brogan to oversee partner development; got former EarthLink channel chief J.R. Cook to sign on as head of strategic business development; lured Brian Leonard from Mojo Marketing to serve as marketing director; and brought on Bob Farbak from XO Communications to support expansion into the Midwest.
Phaneuf and Acosta join those efforts, taking aim at the Northeastern and south central states, respectively. Phaneuf, senior manager of strategic partner development, is zeroing in on Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, while Acosta – whose title is the same as Phaneuf’s – is working with partners in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, where he is based. Intelisys said it needed people such as Phaneuf and Acosta to accommodate the surge of interest it’s seeing from both agents and VARs.
For his part, Phaneuf hails from XO Communications; he worked there first as a channel manager and then as partner sales manager.
“Mark’s leadership, track record of success, and his depth and breadth of industry experience are unparalleled,” said Rick Ribas, vice president of partner sales and development for Intelisys. “He’s an energizing veteran in the industry that will truly help our New England sales partners stand out in the ‘sea of sameness’.”
And partners know Acosta from channel management roles at Windstream, XO, Zayo Group, SAVVIS and Logix Communications. Acosta has worked in the telecom and IT channel in sales, sales management and business development for almost 15 years. As such, his “reputation as a top producer in this community is truly remarkable,” said Brandon Smith, to whom Acosta reports. “He has the depth of knowledge and experience to assist our sales partners in growing their businesses to unprecedented heights.”
CarrierSales and Intelisys did not stand alone this year in responding to the convergence of the IT and telecom channels. On the contrary, several of their peers also beefed up competitive advantage by hiring people with extensive industry experience.
Telarus, for example, hired Trish Kapos from AT&T Wireless to oversee marketing and Richard Stoker from MarketStar to head up a brand-new customer retention group. Tyler Smith also joined from CenturyLink to serve as vice president of engineering, and Zane Christensen became the company’s first-ever CFO. Over at TBI, David Power came on from Thinking Phone Networks to take on marketing. And X4 Solutions moved into the southwest with the help of Chris Burney.
Such additions shore up master agents’ ability to address the needs of partners selling not just connectivity, but cloud, mobility and data, often as a package. In fact, more people appeared to exit from carriers to master agencies than perhaps they ever have, on an annual basis. This could be due, as Heaps noted, to the excitement surrounding convergence. For professionals who have worked in the channel for a long time, taking on new responsibilities stemming from this hustle and bustle probably feels like an energizing career change. And for master agencies, incorporating experts from a range of companies infuses their business models with the guidance needed to navigate through the quickly changing seas of technology and the channel.