Juniper CEO To Partners: Find Customers Ready To Change

Speaking on Monday at Juniper's inaugural Partner Summit in Las Vegas, Kriens advised solution providers to qualify sales leads by quickly assessing whether customers are open to change or are married to the status quo--one of many veiled references to rival Cisco Systems. In the latter case, he urged partners to move on.

"You have to find a person that's ready to listen. That's a change agent. Then it will work," Kriens said.

His message resonated for some partners at the conference, which was the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based networking vendor's first since entering the enterprise market via its acquisition of NetScreen Technologies a year ago.

Jack Higgs, president and CEO of Westron Communications, a Carrollton, Texas-based solution provider, said it's essential to train his sales force not to waste time on unlikely prospects. "Our job is to go back and train our people to ask questions and [proceed based] on the answers they get," he said. "If the customer hesitates for a second, say 'Thank you for your time' and get out of there."

Sponsored post

Kriens also said Juniper wouldn't follow Cisco in its pursuit of a broad technology portfolio. "We can't afford to spread across a lot of fronts, spread lots of messages. Then we fall into the hands of enemy strategy, if you will, trying to do too many things," he said.

However, Juniper already has begun expanding its product lines. On Monday, the company closed its acquisition of application acceleration vendor Redline Networks, unveiled last week, as well as its acquisition of Kagoor Networks, announced in March. Juniper's acquisition of Peribit Networks, also unveiled last week, is expected to close next quarter.

In addition, Juniper is tackling the VoIP market by expanding its partnership with Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J. The two companies on Monday said they plan to enter a strategic alliance that would include joint product development and sales of each other's products and services.

Channel plans for the expanded partnership are in the works, said Tushar Kothari, Juniper's vice president of worldwide channels, adding that the partnership isn't exclusive.

Some solution providers attending the conference said they hope the Juniper/Avaya partnership will lead to tighter ties between Juniper and Extreme Networks, which has an extensive partnership with Avaya. They said such a partnership could help plug holes they see in Juniper's product menu, created by its lack of a network switching portfolio.

Jeff Hiebert, president and CEO of ROI Networks, a San Juan Capistrano, Calif.-based solution provider that works with all three companies, said he'd like to see some of Avaya's VoIP capabilities integrated into Juniper's routers so they could better compete with Cisco's Integrated Services Routers, which include integrated VoIP, security and wireless.

"If you go in with a kick-ass router that only does routing, that's going to be seen as a pretty narrow focus," Hiebert said.

Also at the conference, Juniper launched new partner tools aimed at easing the way partners do business. The tools include the J-series Online Marketing Agency, which helps partners quickly create marketing campaigns, as well as Virtual Demo Lab, slated to launch June 1.