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Jeff Sessions, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Red River, a Claremont, N.H.-based solution provider, said Cisco was clear about making partners a priority, and it showed in both Goodwin-led programs and how Cisco leaders responded to channel feedback.
"He did a great job," Sessions said. "They made sure the partners had a healthy respect from inside Cisco and that they knew where we were playing. I'm sure that had a lot to do with Keith."
Gary Berzack, COO and CTO of eTribeca, a New York-based solution provider, said Goodwin had put together a strong channel team as well as inspired better, more supportive discussion between Cisco representatives and channel partners.
"Keith was a good steward. He was clear, precise and supportive of the partners," Berzack said. "They acted strongly as a team. There used to be a wall between partners, and Cisco badged employees where if you were at an event and didn't already know each other, they didn't talk to you. But at every Cisco event, I have seen friendlier partner engagement and a lighter, less business-like approach."
"Keith has always been a great friend to ePlus and a great channel leader for Cisco," added Mark Melvin, CTO of ePlus, a Herndon, Va.-based solution provider. "We will miss him."
As Klein transitions into Goodwin's role -- he will report to Rob Lloyd, Cisco EVP, worldwide operations, and remain based in Herndon, Va. -- he won't have to look too far to find fans in the channel.
Many partners who know Klein already, particularly major public sector-facing solution providers and integrators, describe him as a strong and approachable sales leader.
"He knows public sector so well, and one of the problems that usually occurs when [vendors] create channel programs is that they don't understand public sector, and that's where they get into trouble," said Red River's Sessions. "Most anything you'd be able to do in public sector can transition well to the commercial side, and you can't say that about commercial-to-public. Bruce knows the drivers for large-scale business models and he has a healthy respect for what we bring to market."
"We've known Bruce for many years, and our reaction to this is very positive," said Force 3's Greaney. "Bruce has been there for all of the years Keith was on it, and he's embraced a lot of the changes and programs that Keith tried to put in place. He really does see the channel as an extension of Cisco's sales arm and he embraces that. He's also the kind of guy you can get an audience with and have a non-emotional business conversation with. We've found him very direct and candid about what he can and can't do."