Tin Can Distributors Scales Deal by 20X with AppDirect

John Schwarze has always had a knack for sales, garnering the title of Top 20 Broker during his time working in Chicago’s commercial real estate market. During a real estate downturn, Schwarze decided to pack up his things and move to the South, this time pursuing an opportunity with a telecommunications provider. Following a nearly two-year stint with the company, he was recruited by a C-level executive at CNSG to try his hand at being on the non-provider side. After taking that role, he excelled and he hasn’t looked back since.


  • Scale the advisor business by driving revenue growth
  • Offer customers a more complete portfolio of technology solutions across cloud and telco
  • The ability to zero in on selling while building customer relationships
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“The product portfolio is a key element for AppDirect—they have more offerings than what most others have. This differentiates them in the market, they're doing something that no other master agent is doing.”

John Schwarze, Founder, Tin Can Distributors


  • Access to 650 providers, without spending time on provider management
  • Access to cloud solutions specialists solutions specialists for in-depth assessments of customer needs
  • Effective cross-selling strategy scales a customer request by 20X, ultimately growing to $20,000 recurring monthly revenue

A journey defined by relationships and adapting to the technology landscape

After nearly four years at CNSG, Schwarze decided to flex his entrepreneurial muscle. In 2015, while still operating under the CNSG brand, he founded Tin Can Distributors, with a focus on helping his partners maximize their growth.

“While I was working at the master agency, I created these invaluable relationships; people wanted to do business with me. I am undoubtedly where I'm at today because of the relationships I fostered with my sales partners.”

Evolving from strictly offering connectivity to selling cloud solutions


At the start, Tin Can’s portfolio consisted of MPLS, Internet, and voice. During this time, premise-based phone systems and servers were the norm, and cloud was a technology only larger corporations were ready to adopt. Schwarze explains that he quite enjoys the dramatic shift the industry has taken.
“What we focused on back then is now the smallest piece of the conversation these days.”

Today, Tin Can is focused on introducing many other solutions such as SaaS, cybersecurity, UCaaS, and CCaaS, and even professional services to customers.

When asked about what technology area has seen an uptick in adoption, Schwarze was quick to mention cybersecurity. “Cybersecurity attacks are no longer reserved for the larger corporations of the world, it’s actually small businesses getting hit.”

One example he often uses with customers to demonstrate the point is a friend's local business that experienced a cybersecurity breach costing them nearly $200,000. The attacker infiltrated the local business's email server and posed as the company’s CFO.

He explains the lesson here: at minimum, business owners should be educating employees on what to look for in a phishing scam and have internal processes to limit a threat actor's ability to fool your employees. Use these types of examples to demonstrate why cybersecurity solutions are so critical. As a next step, ask about your customers’ applications, servers, network and what they’re doing to stay protected so you can help them fill in the blanks.

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Activating the AppDirect catalog to close more deals

Schwarze explains that without the AppDirect catalog, Tin Can would not be able to dabble in the hyper-scaler space, nor in SaaS solutions.

Opening up the cloud conversation starts with listening

For some, the idea of selling cloud is intimidating—but it doesn’t have to be. Schwarze believes that talking to industry experts to educate yourself is a good starting point.

“Spend some time with an expert whether that’s the sales engineering team at AppDirect, or individual providers. From there, it’s about lightly broaching the subject with customers by asking a few questions. If you're not bringing up these topics with your customers, someone else is. You don't have to be an expert. Gauge your customers’ interest and keep it in your back pocket for when the opportunity to sell them on a cloud solution arises.”

How a $1,700 UCaaS deal turned into $20,000 of recurring monthly revenue


Through the AppDirect partnership, Schwarze used an initial UCaaS request from a customer as a springboard to cross-sell other solutions.
He recommends a few foolproof probing questions when having UCaaS conversations with customers:

  • ‘Are you more of a Microsoft shop, or do your users prefer Google?’
  • ‘Which CRM are you using today and potentially looking to integrate with?’
  • ‘Which collaboration tools do you currently use?’
  • ‘Are there any other applications that your employees use each day that are critical to the bottom line?’

He asserts that the answers often provide valuable information that the team can apply to secure future sales opportunities.

As an example, when talking with a customer that operates a trucking company Schwarze quickly identified a cross-sell opening when his point of contact mentioned they used both Google and Microsoft solutions. He brought in a cloud solution specialist from AppDirect to help guide his end customer in understanding the pros and cons of each. This initial cross-sell opportunity included hundreds of licenses for the customer’s employees and brokers, totaling more than $7,000 monthly.

Maximizing cross-sell opportunities with IaaS and more

During his team’s initial UCaaS conversation with the trucking company, Schwarze recalled the customer was also migrating from Azure to AWS. When following up on the UCaaS implementation, Schwarze asked about how things were going with their migration. The customer explained that there was some benefit, but it hadn’t fixed all their issues. From there, Schwarze recommended they speak with a provider that has managed hyperscaler offerings and a hosted private cloud solution to complement their technology infrastructure.

Schwarze believes his persistence and consistency in asking key follow-up questions ultimately generated an additional $8,000 per month in recurring revenue.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution for customers, and that’s understandable. My client still has some parts of their tech stack in Microsoft and AWS, which just shows that it’s not all or nothing. More and more companies are using both - your customers don't have to choose just one solution.”

Fast forward to today, Schwarze has also upsold several collaboration licenses to the trucking company. With the UCaaS deal implemented and the hosted private cloud migration completed, the initial $1,700 deal has expanded into nearly $20,000 per month in recurring revenue.

A bright future, a strong partnership

Schwarze and senior Tin Can leaders are optimistic and confident about the partnership with AppDirect.

“The biggest differentiator for me is knowing AppDirect’s vision for the sale and procurement of cloud solutions. I have faith in the direction of the company and believe in where they're heading.”

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