The Top 25 Channel Sales Leaders Of 20094:00 PM EST Wed. Nov. 25, 2009
CRN's Top 25 Channel Sales Leaders of 2009 fought hard to provide their solution provider partners with the tools and support they need to battle the biggest industry downturn in the history of IT. They are tireless channel advocates who enabled solution providers to prosper in every nook and cranny of the IT market, from desktops to networking to complex ERP software for the midmarket. These are the executives who went the distance for solution providers in 2009.
Sales leaders rise to the occasion in tough times. That's what Cisco's Keith Goodwin did this year, which is why he was named the 2009 Channel Executive of the Year by Everything Channel, the parent company of CRN.com. Goodwin invested heavily in partner profitability in a year that tested Cisco's 60 percent-plus gross margins. Among his accomplishments were a "stimulus package" that included extending channel financing terms through Cisco Capital from 60 days to 90 days, the launch of a managed services program and a bevy of financial incentives and rebates on networking gear. All the while, Goodwin made sure Cisco continued to maintain high levels of partner satisfaction, as the vendor won 2009 Annual Report Card awards for enterprise networking, unified communications and wireless infrastructure.
HP knew what it was doing when it tapped Kelly earlier this year to make sure the computer giant keeps its eye on the SMB ball. Backed up by a first-class product line, Kelly has stayed true to the HP channel sales form by investing more in finding and empowering top SMB VARs. At the top of the list of her accomplishments was successfully bringing a new SMB Elite partner status to HP's channel table. Kelly and HP get that the SMB-class VAR is a different animal than the enterprise VAR. That goes a long way when it comes to knowing the right products and channel programs to make SMB solution providers successful. Kelly may be the most underrated channel executive in the business.
Juniper's Frank Vitagliano is the quintessential channel sales leader. He has four decades of channel experience, and he lives, eats and sleeps channel 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Vitagliano is an old-school channel leader who looks you in the eye and builds relationships with partners that pay off in big sales gains. Everyone has their eyes on HP battling Cisco in the networking sales trenches. That's OK with Vitagliano. He's the kind of executive who delivers time and time again. Look for Juniper to get more than its share of the networking pie.
SAP's Patricia Hume, a 25-year channel veteran who joined SAP in 2007, has in short order quietly transformed the enterprise software company into a world-class midsize channel power. SAP's top partners are seeing strong double-digit sales growth even in the midst of the enterprise IT spending downturn. That's due to Hume's ability to deliver the tools and support partners need to get the job done. Our favorite Hume initiative is the SAP Top Partner Executive Sponsorship Program, which teams senior SAP SME executives with solution providers in the field.
David Kenyon has in only a few months breathed new life into the AMD channel program. He's the type of executive who's able to takes lots of channel data and information and use them to quickly make decisions. Those decisions are paying off in more support for AMD partners. Kenyon has already merged four partner tracks into a single program. The aim: to reach underserved portions of AMD's system builders. Look out, Intel. With Kenyon's leadership, we foresee an AMD channel renaissance in 2010.
It would be hard to find a sales leader that has as much success in the security trenches as Michael Valentine. He did it at WatchGuard and SonicWall, and he is doing it now in spades at Fortinet. Experience and execution count in this business, and he makes building a security sales superpower look easy.
Randy Cochran is the perfect complement to Symantec CEO Enrique Salem. Cochran is a detail-oriented operational leader who has done the basic blocking and tackling to put Symantec back on top of the channel sales mountain. Which is no small matter given the complexity and scope of the Symantec channel. It takes a true channel professional to do what he's done: namely make it a whole lot easier and less complex for partners to deal with Symantec.
Give credit where credit is due: No one does services better than IBM. That's in no small measure due to Michael Daniels, who has kept IBM's services train rolling hard and fast for the past four years. Get this: Daniels oversees about 50 percent of IBM's services sales, including outsourcing services, integrated technology services, small and medium business services and IBM Global Financing. And he gets the channel, too. We just would love to see him step out more into the channel waters and get partners pumped about IBM's services prowess.
It's hard to imagine Dell could have found someone who would have done a better job of slowly and surely building its channel presence than Greg Davis. How has he done it? With a straightforward and honest leadership style that includes listening to partners. He has improved Dell's channel position each and every year. Among his biggest accomplishments were an end-of-year move to lower minimum deal registration price from $50,000 to $15,000 and a deal to put the Dell into distribution. Look for Davis to continue Dell's steady channel march in 2010.
There is no channel chief with a better understanding of what it is going to take be successful in the ever-shifting world of social networking and Web 2.0. Motorola's Janet Schijns sees the future and is giving Motorola's long-time partners a fast track to it with a combination of new tools and old-school ISV support. And get this: She's putting her money where her mouth is, promising to double the number of high-quality leads she passes on to her partners or pay them $100 for every lead that they don't get. Making sure partners are successful: That's what Schijns is all about.
It is not going too far to say that it is Ambulos' hard-driving leadership that has put EMC into the channel catbird seat. Ambulos has take EMC from a no-holds-barred direct sales power that stepped on partners to a channel powerhouse that is driving big services sales and profits through its partners. EMC, in fact, has won Everything Channel Annual Report Card awards for top scores in network storage and storage software for the last three consecutive years. That's what we call channel sales leadership.
Who has a better handle on what small-business solution providers need to be successful than Microsoft's Cindy Bates? That's a big deal given the state of the enterprise IT economy. To put it bluntly, a good deal of Microsoft's success depends on getting the formula right for small business. And Bates gets it. She's all about making sure partners have the tools and go-to-market muscle they need to be successful. Besides Bates' small-business savvy, she has the business smarts necessary to lead partners through what is the biggest IT downturn ever, drawing on the four years she spent in Microsoft's mergers and acquisitions group. She's a top talent at a time when Microsoft needs it.
Judson Althoff's steady hand has taken the Oracle channel effort to the next level. The nine-year Oracle veteran, who has the ear of Oracle President Chuck Phillips, revamped the company's channel program to put the focus on certifications around specific Oracle products. That's important given the breadth and depth of Oracle's product line. The new program puts increased emphasis on training. No small matter given Oracle's legacy of having the most highly trained and technically astute solution providers on the planet. Look for Althoff to continue to use his powers of persuasion to get Oracle solution providers more tools and support.
No one has more experience empowering solution providers in the all-important public sector market than Humke. The 35-year sales veteran has delivered the right programs, tools and, most importantly, the passion that has led HP government partners to higher ground. One of his biggest accomplishments has been driving alignment with HP's impressive public sector sales group. He's a highly visible executive who's always available to help partners close a deal.
Intel partner satisfaction scores remain high. That's in large part due to Eric Thompson's aggressive push to make sure the chip giant keeps its channel edge. This year, Thompson, a 15-year Intel channel veteran, stepped up the push to help Intel partners weather the economic downturn with a number of programs at the distribution level to improve return on working capital. Given the channel renaissance at AMD, Thompson has his work cut out for him in 2010.
Microsoft's Eric Martorano is a born channel sales leader who knows how to fire up partners to follow him. And no one in the Microsoft camp has been as visible in the partner community. He's also done an extraordinary job helping partners weather the difficult IT spending climate. He ended the year with a bang by expanding the scope of the market development funds Microsoft offers to Small Business Specialist Community partners. And did we mention he has a big heart? Martorano is the driving force behind a Future Tech Leaders program that provides opportunities for teenagers. Think about it: Martorano may well be opening the door for the next Bill Gates.
Cisco and HP can make all the noise they want. Adtran is at the top of the SMB networking mountain, walking away with the Everything Channel 2009 Annual Report Card award for SMB networking. That's due to the partner commitment, perseverance and channel smarts of Ted Cole. The 25-year sales veteran has put the whammy on both his former employer Cisco and HP. So what is Cole's secret sauce? World-class products that don't fail, technical support that is unmatched and programs that put more profit into the pockets of partners. Cole is the kind of channel chief that makes partners want to run through a brick sales wall.
Darrick Finan has transformed Eaton into a green channel power. That's green as in cold hard cash for partners delivering energy-efficient technology solutions. Eaton's channel transformation has been nothing short of astounding given the intensely competitive UPS power/cooling market. Finan pulled it off by backing the channel bid big time with 19 new field sales reps that work hand in hand with partners to close deals. He also added inside sales reps that were hitting the phones to get partners business. Eaton's just getting warmed up.
A 25-year IBM veteran, Hume's biggest accomplishment in 2009 was his championing of an updated version of the IBM Business Partner Charter. That's the document's first major revision in 15 years -- with changes that reflect the company's "Smarter Planet" initiative and its renewed emphasis on working with the channel to reach midmarket customers. Hume knows how to navigate IBM and has the support of IBM CEO Sam Palmisano. That is worth a lot in a company the size of IBM. One sign of his power and influence: Hume was named to IBM's Strategy Team, a global executive committee that identifies long-term strategic issues and growth opportunities. That's an indicator of just how strategic the channel is to IBM.
It helps to have a seasoned leader like Andy Bryant at the helm when you're dealing with the kind of economic downturn we experienced in 2009. Bryant, a 28-year industry veteran, has put more muscle behind Arrow's powerful midmarket program, including an initiative that helped VARs put marketing campaigns online. What's more, he has led a converged networking charge and championed the MPower program, which provides resellers with tools, training and data analytics to assist them in identifying and pursuing new markets.
No one has more experience navigating the topsy-turvy, insanely competitive distribution marketplace than Hamada. The 26-year Avnet veteran has made sure that the company gets its partners all the tools and support they need to be successful. That has meant an all-out push into higher-margin territory, including government and health care. Key to Avnet and its partners' success has been Hamada's ability to drive tight relationships with vendor partners.
The 26-year public sector veteran walked away this year with Everything Channel's Public Sector Channel Executive of the Year Award. That's because he is one of the most trusted, visible and well-known executives serving public sector solution providers and customers. The secret to his success? An ability to remain sharply focused on creating three-way partnerships between the customer, the solution provider and the vendor. It's not always easy, particularly given the complexities of the federal market. No one does it better than Morgan. He's helped Oracle public sector partners win more than their share of big federal IT projects.
After a stint as managing director of IBM's U.S. Federal business, Altman has the background necessary to make sure IBM's public sector partners don't miss a sales beat in a booming government market.
There simply are few CEOs that have the channel passion, leadership and business skills of Stewart Krentzman. Krentzman, who is slated to finish out his 12-year run with the company early next year, championed and never wavered -- not once -- from a 100 percent channel business model at Oki Data. His crowning achievement may be the launch earlier this year of an innovative Total Managed Print services program for partners. Here's hoping we see Krentzman back in the channel trenches.
It didn't take Michael Jerich long to give Global Crossing a big channel boost. A former Level 3 Communications executive, Jerich took the Global Crossing channel job in May and then one month later delivered a new channel program that has won raves from partners. Jerich rebranded and revitalized the channel offering and has gotten partners pumped up. Look for Jerich to make more big changes that put profits into partner's pockets in 2010.