Master Agent CMS Targets Practice-Building With VARs


Mike Saxby has been in the telecom channel long enough to know that telecom service selling is a bridge too far for some VARs. That's why, as he moves into the role of president for master agent Communication Management Services (CMS), he and his team plan to roll up their sleeves and take IT solution provider relationships beyond the level of supplier management.

"The approach CMS is taking is really one based on strategic investment," Saxby told CRN this week. "We are working with partners and plan to work with net-new IT partners to help them build their practice and create a much bigger relationship."

Saxby was named president of San Diego-based CMS in late January. He previously was chief strategy officer for master agent Telecom Brokerage, Inc. (TBI) and spent years as group publisher for the telecom division of Virgo Publishing.

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He's now aligned with Gene Foster, who remains as CMS' CEO and founded the company -- now one of the country's biggest master agents -- in 1991.

"The thing that was most attractive about this is that Gene, who founded the company and still owns it, is a visionary in terms of the mobility space," Saxby said. "CMS even built a separate practice focused on being a distributor of mobility solutions."

Many VARs embracing telecom and carrier services practices understand the telecom world's residual revenue model but have a tough time reconciling that model with the way their businesses are traditionally structured, from compensation to staffing.

It's those conversations CMS plans to focus on, Saxby said.

"What it means is that we're working with [the partner's] executive management team: sitting down with the CFO, looking at staffing, looking at how to build a proper financial model," he said. "It's a real, honest conversation about how this business works, and building a recurring revenue stream that acts a lot like an annuity. They have to understand that it's work -- it's going to take two-plus years for this to become profitable. So they, and we, have to go down the road of strategic investment.

"They have to understand that this is an additional line of business," Saxby added. "It's not just sending the contract over. It's not going to build that way."

PUBLISHED FEB. 7, 2013