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NetApp Channel Chief Jim Elder: Big Changes, Opportunities Coming For Partners

Jim Elder tells CRN in a wide-ranging conversation about his priorities for NetApp in 2020, how the company is reorganizing its channels, and how it plans to compete against Dell EMC's new PowerStore storage line.

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What are your priorities for NetApp's channels in 2020?

My philosophy at a high level is, it's all about the partner sellers. Partner sellers sell a vendor for three reasons. One is You sell what you know and what you're comfortable with. Two, you sell with who you know and who you can trust. And third, you sell what you can obviously and maybe most importantly know you can make money selling.

From a NetApp perspective, we have a solid foundation in two of those boxes. We have great relationships with our channel partners and great local relationships with our selling teams. ... We're going to look to grow that community at a local level across both our commercial and enterprise sales teams. So we clearly check that box.

I think we clearly check the box of making money as well. We have a robust deal registration process, a robust rules of engagement process that really has weight behind it. And so our partners know and can trust that when they engage us in an opportunity, we're not going to go take that deal direct. We're going to protect the investments they make with us to help us win that business.

And the third area?

A continual challenge for NetApp as we expanded our portfolio, including some of the acquisitions and our push into the cloud, is a constant battle to keep channel sellers informed and up to speed on the product portfolio. My emphasis this year is really broadening the lens of opportunities so those partner sellers [see how] NetApp's new expanded portfolio fits with their end customers

We're going to do that with various initiatives. We're going to drive with my partner managers with a lot of enablement work, a lot of demand generation work. My major focus is, how do we make our partners sellers more comfortable talking about the cloud and NetApp's incredible Data Fabric story [and] our cloud-connected flash story. How do we enable them to be very comfortable with those conversations.

 
 
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