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New Pax8 Execs On Partner Engagement, Customer Growth And Cloud Transformation

C.J. Fairfield

‘A trend that I‘m seeing is within the SMB space,’ says Nikki Meyer, vice president of Global Vendor Alliances at Pax8. “One of the things that often shy partners away from going after the SMB business is the profitability, because the sales cycles are a lot shorter than any of the bigger partners but there’s a profitable outcome of each service. It’s really making sure that we are building highly automated solutions to ensure that we’re driving profitability.”

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Industry veterans Caroline Goles and Nikki Meyer, who both spent years at Microsoft, have recently joined Denver-based distributor Pax8 to help shake up the market and double down on their partners and the SMB space.

Meyer joins the company as vice president of global vendor alliances after spending more than 15 years at Microsoft where she led teams focusing on partner marketing, new product launches and incentive programs. Her work with the SMB market (small-mid-sized businesses) provided solution providers with the knowledge, tools and resources to grow their cloud practices significantly. Since 2018, Meyer has held a global position where she developed initiatives to grow Microsoft’s worldwide presence and drive the adoption of its cloud solutions in the global channel.

Goles serves as vice president of digital sales strategy and comes on board with more than 20 years of sales and marketing experience in the industry. As a digital sales strategy lead at Microsoft, Goles led the delivery of an AI-guided sales engine that grew marketing signals, industry data and machine learning, accelerating cloud adoption, revenue growth and increased sales efficiency.

Both Goles and Meyer started their roles in early January.

“We’re only weeks in but we’re already engaged with the teams thinking hard about how we can help partners differentiate, how we can help partners build profitability and, most importantly, deliver value in cloud solutions to their customers,” Goles told CRN.

CRN spoke with Goles and Meyer about what they want to learn in their new roles and Pax8 strategies for the new year.

 

Caroline, what attracted you to the role at Pax8?

Number one was just that clarity of vision in the mission. Pax8 just understands the market deeply and understands what partners need to be successful. Secondly, innovation. They‘ve just got this remarkable pace and breadth of innovation and landing new things to help partners grow their business. I think it’s unmatched in the industry. Third is just the incredible people. It’s the alchemy of talents and passion and purpose is just contagious. I couldn‘t pass up the opportunity to join such a motivated and passionate group of people. They have a lot of great fun and just everyone from (CEO) John Street on down just seems to have the partner passion and purpose around them. It’s the chance for me to get back to partner and closer to that partner vision. I started in partner two decades ago almost with Adobe and so being closer to it, it’s really exciting and it‘s great to be back.

Nikki, what attracted you to Pax8?

I had been working with them quite a bit in my previous capacity and the one thing that really struck me in terms of the way that they were going to market with their distribution was the agility. They were able to meet market demand so much faster than what I saw than other kind of legacy distributors. I was also super drawn by the performance that we saw from Pax8 and the growth that they were able to achieve over such a short period of time. The third thing for me was I could already see, outside looking in, the culture of Pax8. They were dynamic, they were vibrant and constantly looking for feedback in terms of how they had done something even though execution had been amazing. There was always the sense of, ‘How do we do this better next time?’ They were always trying to see how to improve upon what they were already doing.

Nikki, what do you want to learn in your new role?

I‘ve had years of experience from the vendor side of things, and more recently in the last couple of years in a corporate role. I have felt that I have been a couple of ticks removed in terms of what is really happening in the markets, so I wanted to join Pax8 so that I could see it from a vendor perspective making all of the decisions, the strategy, here’s how we go to market to see how does this really land. How does it really go to market? They‘re still one click removed from the customer but getting closer to what actually is that customer need when we start thinking about strategy and philosophy for the future. [I wanted to be] closer to understanding what the need is and what needs to be created to meet that demand.

Caroline, what do you expect to learn?

I‘m passionate to try and figure out how we can take some of these amazing capabilities that we’re building around data, insights and AI guided selling and really deliver that in a way that helps partners meet the needs of our customers. In the past I spent a lot of time on machine learning and sales efficiencies and those kinds of things. I think wrapping that saying, ‘How do we curate a set of capabilities for MSPs where their mission is their customer mission? How do we drive that efficiency and what kind of tools and capabilities can we deliver for them so that they can take a little more efficiency out of the underpinnings of the business and really deliver for their customers? How do we help chart and plot their business growth and what can we enable for them so that they can sit frontline and deliver the right cloud solutions to their customers at the right time? How can Pax8 innovate around data intelligence insights to improve that partner experience and in turn improve that customer experience for their customers?’

Caroline, what's one of the first things you want to tackle in your new role?

There‘s a couple of things I really want to do. One is trying to deliver some programs and some processes to our amazing sellers and the partners just to scale that growth. So, how do we get efficiencies and how do we give them the right tools and opportunities to make the most of their engagements with their customers? I want to start building out that data layer. Building out that data layer, that machine learning and that recursive learning so that we can drive these insight-based experiences for our sellers and internal partners. That’s where I‘m busy rolling up my sleeves and learning a ton from our sales teams. We’re getting a ton from the product teams and really just understanding what their engagement looks like, what the partners are looking for and how do we shorten the development cycle for that.

What about you, Nikki. What do you want to tackle first?

Over the last couple of months we‘ve seen huge global expansion with Pax8, and there’s more to come on that as well. So making sure that we are building a strong foundational level, from a global perspective, of Pax8 and really bringing in that global strategy. The second thing is bringing on new hyper scalars in the next couple of months and how does that look and making sure that we are able to drive growth opportunities.

Nikki what is one trend you're seeing in the market right now?

A trend that I‘m seeing is within the SMB space. One of the things that often shy partners away from going after the SMB business is the profitability, because the sales cycles are a lot shorter than any of the bigger partners but there’s a profitable outcome of each service. It’s really making sure that we are building highly automated solutions to ensure that we’re driving profitability.

 

Caroline, how do you plan on furthering Pax8’s strategy to deliver more cloud-based solutions?

One of the things we‘re really looking at is how can we take this notion of marketplace and partner engagements and deliver the best-in-class tools to partners. Number one is how do we become our best users of cloud technology? How do we make our sales people and our teams expert users of that and demonstrate the ROI (return on investment) there. And then how do we advocate for the right solutions for partners and customers. One of the things that we see in the market are these rising interest rates, so ROI is going to be terribly important. One of the things that that we’re looking at is making sure, when we take on board a cloud solution, how do we drive the right ROI return on investment not only for the customer but for the partner.

Number two is how do we make sure the ROI on partner investment is there. How do we make that partner experience as efficient and rich as we can. We’ve got some great data to show that we‘re really delivering ROI and a lot of that is the investment in tooling and efficiencies that Pax8 delivers from the start. I hope to always keep in mind that our partners and our customers are ROI minded and their investments need to return a value for their customers, so I always make that a top line message in whatever we do.

Caroline, what's the biggest challenge you're seeing the channel right now and how do you plan on tackling it?

There was this race in the last two years with COVID about remote work and how to help customers be successful in that. I think we‘re almost through that. I think now there’s a sufficiency drive in the what‘s next. There’s a huge trend around security now that we have spread the fabric of a company across so many different locations. How do you maintain security? That market is front and center, so we‘ll have to make sure that we deliver on the value proposition. We’ve got a number of great vendor partners around security and making sure that we‘re always in the conversation with partners around how we can deliver security solutions to customers. Number two is return on investment. As we go into less certain economic terms I think making sure that the partner is top of mind. I think with customers it’s how do I be more efficient with my operations? Where do I grow? Where do I invest? Where do I not? I think we need to be well aware of it and deliver the solutions that drive efficiency, security and ROI and make sure that we can deliver on the promise there.

And Nikki, what is one challenge you see in the channel right now?

Where we are right now, particularly for the channel, is focusing on transforming the businesses. Over the last five years we‘ve been talking about how partners need to transform the services that they have for customers where it’s no longer just a transactional-based service. From a distributor, how are they building those capabilities and services within the channel? How do you have a distributor come in and actually perform on behalf of the reseller? I think a lot of the bigger partners over the last couple of years have been focusing on transformation, now it‘s key to focus on transformation within that the SMB segment and making sure that resellers can differentiate themselves.

 

 

 

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C.J. Fairfield

CJ Fairfield is an associate editor at CRN covering solution providers, MSPs and distributors. Prior to joining CRN, she worked at daily newspapers, including The Press of Atlantic City in New Jersey and The Frederick News-Post in Maryland. She can be reached at cfairfield@thechannelcompany.com.

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