3Com Sales Shakeup

"My hope is that they bring in a sales executive that understands how the channel works, is dedicated to it, and energizes us. That's what's lacking right now," said Don Gulling, president of Verteks Consulting, a solution provider in Ocala, Fla. "Claflin needs to do something quickly to restore morale."

3Com last week parted ways with Nick Ganio, executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing, one week after reporting fiscal first-quarter revenue of $162.3 million, essentially flat compared with year-ago results, and a loss of $35.5 million.

The departure also follows a period of discontent within 3Com's channel ranks, as Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com has made moves to strengthen its enterprise presence.

Claflin said he will take over responsibility for sales and marketing activities until Ganio's replacement is named. Ganio had been with 3Com since June 2003. The vendor last reported a profitable quarter in 2000. Claflin himself is getting mixed reviews from the vendor's partners.

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"If the attitude at 3Com as it relates to the channel doesn't improve, then in my opinion, sales will go down. If that happens, [Claflin's] going to run out of people to blame," said one solution provider, who requested anonymity.

Another partner voiced support for Claflin. "He's the one guy I think doesn't need to go. The shareholders are not giving him free-enough rein," said John Graven, COO of solution provider Computer Telephony Concepts, Mentor, Ohio.

3Com outraged some of its top partners last month with surprise changes to its Focus Partner Program, including a dramatic increase in volume requirements for the program's top two tiers. The new terms halved its ranks of Gold and Silver partners.

The vendor also made changes to warranty and maintenance services that some partners said ultimately increase their costs while reducing support levels.