Juniper&'s Growing Pains

Some solution providers classify the resulting problems as growing pains and say that, overall, the partnership remains strong. Others say the problems go much deeper.

“Things have been a little bit rough because there has been so much turnover,” said one Juniper partner, who asked not to be identified. The partner expects to grow Juniper sales by approximately 120 percent this year compared with 2004, although that trails the partner&'s overall growth rate of 200 percent.

“You never like to see people turnover, especially if you&'re humming along with them,” said Tom Duffy, president of IGXglobal, another Juniper partner, in Rocky Hill, Conn.

Still, Duffy said Juniper&'s sales force seems eager to work with IGXglobal as it expands into new territories. He expects sequential Juniper sales growth of 40 percent this quarter.

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Partners said the fallout stems in part from changes Juniper made to its sales team earlier this year, when it replaced several regional sales managers.

In a recent interview with CRN, Juniper Chairman and CEO Scott Kriens called fast-paced growth one of his toughest challenges this year. The Sunnyvale, Calif., vendor is on track to hit approximately $2 billion in sales for 2005, up 50 percent from 2004.

“The company is in a stage of sometimes-awkward adolescence, which is where we&'re growing so fast, and there are so many opportunities … that trying to stay focused and make sure that we continue to execute is a challenge,” Kriens said.

Juniper has been putting existing sales reps and new hires through a weeklong boot camp on solution selling, said Tushar Kothari, Juniper&'s vice president of worldwide channels. Some reps may have left because they did not want to move in that direction, he said.

A few partners, however, said problems with Juniper&'s sales force derive from mixed messages.

Pat Grillo, president of Atrion Communications Resources, Branchburg, N.J., said Juniper is bringing in aggressive reps who don&'t value channel partnerships.

Phil Mogavero, president and CEO of Data Systems Worldwide, a Woodland Hills, Calif., partner, said the Juniper field isn&'t working closely enough with the vendor&'s top partners.

“The channel team has a strategy to work closely with Elite partners while the field doesn&'t,” said Mogavero. “Being an Elite partner doesn&'t feel so elite.”

Kothari said he has seen no lapse in channel-friendly behavior in the field.