New CEO, Sales VP Promise To Reinvigorate FalconStor's Brand, Technology

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FalconStor's new CEO and new head of North American sales promise to shake up the company's product development and marketing and make the storage vendor much more focused on its channel partners.

FalconStor in mid-January unveiled James McNiel as its new CEO, and hired John Turner as its new vice president of North American sales.

McNiel had been serving as interim CEO since the abrupt resignation in September of ReiJane Huai as FalconStor Software's president, CEO, and chairman. Huai, who founded FalconStor, resigned after he disclosed that certain improper payments were allegedly made in connection with the company's contract with one customer. Turner until mid-January served as the vice president of Symantec's technology sales organization. He replaces Wendy Petty, who served in that position for over 10 years.

McNiel told CRN that his primary goal is to make the FalconStor brand one which both customers and partners can trust when it comes to protecting data.

"We are in a unique market," he said. "We're protecting customers from a loss of their data. That requires a significant level of trust. The biggest change is, we have to address that level of trust with quality and reliability. I want our brand to be known for that."

Reaching that goal will require some work for FalconStor's new executives. In addition to the resignation of the company's founder, FalconStor has been going through turbulence in its sales and channel teams, according to channel sources.

Turner confirmed reports from those sources about major changes in FalconStor's sales department over the past year, and said those changes stemmed from a move away from the company's long-term start-up mentality to start acting more like an enterprise-class storage vendor.

"A lot of our sales force was not ready for the transition," Turner said. "We had a 50-percent turnover in our sales staff over a nine-month sales cycle. It's significant that our North American market could grow like it has."

Turner said he is working with Brendan Kinkade, FalconStor's vice president of channel management and global alliances, to build the company's channel program core, and that the changes so far are very encouraging.

"I'm building a world-class sales force, and a world-class channel program, to make it attractive for our channel partners," he said.

Turner said he has no plans to build a direct sales force for FalconStor at this point. "Coming from Symantec, I believe in the channel," he said. "I need partners to not only extend my reach in our customers, but also to make sure they are supported properly."

Channel partners should be treated as an extension of a vendor's sales team, with the only difference being the badge they wear, Turner said. "When I was at Symantec, when we did sales training, we had our channel partners take the same training," he said. "We'll bring this philosophy to FalconStor. If Jim will allow me to pay for it, yes, I'll do the same at FalconStor."


Next: New Partner Program, Engineering Processes

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