HPE Chief Sales Officer Davis On New Sales Structure, Partner of The Future, And The Power Of Doing What You Say You Are Going To Do

An 'Outside-In' Approach

New Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chief Sales Officer Phil Davis, who is overseeing a massive global sales force transformation, is urging his sales team and partners to take an "outside-in" approach to the business.

"Whether you are selling to a customer or partner, or supporting a sales rep, we all have a responsibility to sell," Davis wrote in an internal memo announcing the next level of sales leaders for the new organization. "Therefore, everyone must adopt an 'outside-in' mind-set focused on delivering value to our customers."

Davis said the new structure strikes at the heart of what HPE needs to do to win in the marketplace: "concentrate the majority of our resources into geographies with the most growth opportunities, and simplify our layers so we can get closer to our customers and become easier to do business with."

Davis told CRN that the HPE Next initiative – which is removing management layers -- is going to result in more investment in front-line sales like partner enablement and rebates.

Is the investment in partners increasing as you look at the new organizational structure with the 11 new geographies?

The vast majority of our revenue comes from a very specific set of countries, and the best opportunity for growth is in those countries. So we are doubling down on those initiatives. The partners are seeing and feeling that.

As we take out some of these layers between the CEO and the actual partner, that is giving us the opportunity to focus our investments much more on front-line activities and partner enablement and partner rebates and all those things. As we take that money out of those management tiers, that is where we are going to focus those investments.

How will the new sales structure, with the 11 key geographies now reporting into you, accelerate partner transformation?

As I come into the new role, when I talked to our teams in EMEA, Latin America and U.S., and they were all doing some great things. There were all these pockets separated around the world. By removing the old regional structure and then having these 11 geographies report directly to me worldwide, one of the big benefits we are going to see is you are not going to have this additional layer between the partners and the chief sales officer. It will be a much more direct communication from them to me. The benefit of that is we are going to be able to see all the different things that are happening throughout the world and continue to take those best practices and share them.

What is the digital transformation trend and how is it impacting partners?

Everything right now is really about digital transformation. Many industries are down this journey. Whether you are talking about IoT or eGov and smart cities, every industry is either in the process of transforming or will be very, very soon. What that is doing is changing the landscape that partners have to operate in. They have to have different skills. They have to be able to transform their own business models to be able to be successful in that new landscape, and they have to be more agile, more nimble and much quicker.

Customers are transforming and that is causing partners to change their business models. With our Partner of the Future workshops we are getting out in front of that with our partners to help them be successful in that new world.

Many of the partners want to change their business model to add richer services, or add as-a-service capabilities or to be able to provision infrastructure on an as-needed basis. From our standpoint, we have to look at how do we change our offerings, programs and capabilities to enable that.

What is the Partner of the Future initiative?

This is not the simple world of 10 years ago where everybody just wanted to buy and resell hardware. What we have been doing is working closely with our partners in intimate workshop forums to really listen and understand what do they want to do and where do they want to go with their business, and then how do we construct the right programs and offerings to help them.

They tend to fall in three buckets: hardware reseller, solution provider end to end, and true as-a-service providers.

The call to action is two-fold: Partners need to be clear to us on what their business model is and where they want to make money. It is not as simple as it used to be. Number two, they have to make the investment, whether it is a technology investment or proficiency in different sales skills.

How has digital transformation impacted the sales teams of partners?

If you used to be a hardware provider and you want to move to an as-a-service provider, your sales organization needs to be able to talk about different financial models and consumption models. That is a different skill set your sales organization is going to need to have.

The call to action is partners need to be able to invest in their own sales organizations to be able to have the right skill sets to evolve. Of course, we are going to be right there with them. We are investing in these different programs, but partners need to be clear to us where they want to go. We'll help them get there, but they need to make the right investments in their own teams to continue on this journey.

What is the framework for the Partner of the Future workshops?

We do these in a very intimate environment. It is us and one partner at a time and then we work with a third-party facilitator to make sure we get the most out of the time invested. It is a big investment for the partner. It is a couple of days investment from them. We bring in our executive team. We have been able to do about a dozen of them in APJ [Asia-Pacific Japan]. It is a fairly small number, but what we are doing is taking the learning from each one of those and taking it to the other partners and getting feedback. These are deep dives with a specific partner at the principal level on down.

How are you sharing the information with other partners?

We have a very, very tight relationship with our Enterprise Partner Advisory Council in Asia-Pacific. What we have done there is take that learning and bring it to the broader partner community. We validate it and then we ramp it.

To me, this gets back into this whole DevOps thinking with business innovation: start small, try some different things, as it works ramp it as quickly as you can. That is where we are going with Partner of the Future. We are in the process of starting to ramp the learnings from those Partner of the Future workshops.

What is the Partner Ready for Service Provider initiative?

About a year and a half ago we launched Partner Ready for Service Provider. We actually changed our traditional Partner Ready program that has consistently been the best in the industry and we evolved it to have a version of it specifically for partners that wanted to be service providers. We are listening to partners and evolving our own programs to help them, whether it is Partner of Future workshops or Partner Ready for Service Providers.

What is the Tech Pro Academy pre-sales rep training for partners that you are rolling out globally?

We launched Tech Pro Academy in Asia. That is an initiative focused on our technical community inside our partners to invest in them and help them be more valuable to their customers and to the market and to help them be more successful in selling HPE products. The feedback was phenomenal on that, and we are taking it worldwide.

We launched Marketing Pro and Sales Pro right after that. It is tools, content and training that we can take to the partners and help them continue to up-level their skills and be more successful.

In the new structure, we will be able to roll those things out on a worldwide basis much more quickly and they just won't come from one geography -- they will come from all geographies.

Talk about North America Sales Chief Dan Belanger (pictured) and what kind of impact you expect him to have in the U.S.?

Dan is very passionate. He is passionate about winning, partners and customers. He is a great competitor. He has come up through the ranks in sales. I don't think you can progress in sales if you are not customer-centric. Dan demonstrates all of those things. As we looked both internal and external, Dan was a complete no-brainer. He was absolutely the best candidate internal and external.

What is the message you want to hammer home to partners?

Talk is easy. One of the things that is very important to me for myself and people I want to work with is the 'say-do' ratio. That is what percentage of the things you say you are going to do you actually do. Our pledge to partners is we are somebody you can count on.

We have been committed to the partner community going back 75 years when Hewlett and Packard founded this company. Partnership is in our DNA. None of our competitors can say that. None have the longstanding commitment to the partner community that we have. If you look at what I did in my role in Asia, what we did there was to work incredibly collaboratively with our partners. We listened to their needs and continued to innovate our own offerings and capabilities to align to what they need.