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CNSG’s Randy Friedberg: Get Your ‘Nose Bloody’ Leaning Into Cloud

James Anderson**Editor’s Note: This is one of a series of profiles featuring Channel Partners advisory board members. Meet Friedberg and the rest of the board by attending the Channel Partners Conference & Expo, April 10-13, 2017, in Las Vegas. Learn more here.**

If you want to succeed in the channel, you must remember that it is a relationship business.

That’s the common refrain of Randy Friedberg, vice president of business development for CNSG.

“The person you work with indirectly may be the folks you work with directly tomorrow,” he told Channel Partners. “Make sure you do a good job supporting them.”

Friedberg’s career experiences have mirrored his advice. Before joining CNSG, he spent a year at Time Warner Cable Business Class supporting the Charlotte, North Carolina-based master agent. That connection helped him settle in at his next professional endeavor.{ad}

Although Friedberg is pushing cloud transformation at CNSG, he says cable continues to be a major theme of his job.

“Cable has certainly become one of the other driving factors out there today, and cable, being different from traditional carrier services — you have to have more and more support in order for partners to want to work with you on selling cable,” he said.

The company is operating a dedicated cable practice, which recently added another team member, and he says fiber now accounts for 40 percent of CNSG’s cable services.

“Cloud solutions are only as reliable as the bandwidth that’s supporting it,” he said.

Friedberg began in the industry at Divergent Communications 20 years ago and served as a senior channel manager for Windstream (previously Nuvox Communications). He also worked as vice president of sales and strategic relations for Green Cloud Technologies. He says the technological developments of the recent decade – particularly cloud computing – have put some partners in a difficult situation. He says many of them remain stuck in their “comfort zone,” which focuses on the products and solutions they sold before the digital transformation of the last several years. As such, Friedberg is pushing them to adapt in spite of their discomfort.

“If you’ve got a partner who’s sold traditional carrier services, bandwidth, MPLS, voice – there [are] still apprehensions there about having the conversations with their customers about different cloud applications and cloud solutions,” he said.

And even some of those partners who make an effort to learn about cloud stay mired in their comfort zones. Friedberg said the surplus of online education resources often serves as a crutch for them. Some partners have become so reliant on webinars that they …

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… shy away from doing any in-person learning. And the best type of in-person learning is on-the-job learning, where the partner helps its customer with a new technology. That’s where Friedberg says some of the best growth occurs, even when the partner struggles with a degree of unfamiliarity.

“It’s OK to get your nose bloody. It’s OK not to know the answer,” he said.

He says that although partners must embrace the new technologies of the digital age, certain mindsets of the 21st century haven’t been particularly helpful to business. One is the belief that email is a sufficient way to develop and maintain connections with clients. Not that email should be thrown out, but Friedberg said it will never match the power of a face-to-face conversation.

“We all get sucked in behind the computer screen entering a thousand emails a day,” he said. “And that work is very necessary in supporting the partners, but don’t forget to take time to get out in front of them. Because you can’t build relationships over email, especially in the beginning.”

Friedberg again and again returns to the theme of relationships, which for CNSG goes far beyond working with end users. His biggest advice, which is also his motto, reflects back on the importance of the channel: “Always remember that partners are your most important customers.”


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