The future of B2B sales will be more data-driven and customer-centric, but to tie into end user needs, what should B2B sales teams be doing to prepare? Brian Brogan, Vice President of Global Sales Channels, Panzura shares a few thoughts in this chat with SalesTechStar:
Hi Brian, welcome to this SalesTechStar chat, you’ve had quite the interesting journey in sales, take us through the key highlights! We’d love to hear more about your role at Panzura.
I’ve been in the enterprise technology industry for more than 25 years. At SAP, I was a vice president in charge of sales teams driving cloud solutions, IoT, database analytics, and embedded solutions. I ran global sales channels for Automation Anywhere and Openwave Systems, and I spent seven years at EMC/Legato as head of sales channels, partners, and alliances. Earlier in my career I was a vice president at Siemens, and a chief of staff and a general manager at IBM. So, you might say that I have a lot of experience when it comes to the enterprise and the technologies that keep them running.
At Panzura, I lead an incredibly talented team that focuses on worldwide sales channels and business development operations. I’m really proud of the work we do to help so many of the world’s most iconic companies drive growth and improve their profitability using Panzura technology. Our customers come from crucial industries like healthcare, banking and financial services, manufacturing, media and entertainment, and government. I see my role as an advocate for driving support and rewarding the success of Panzura partners in the global sales channel.
What drove you to sales and how have you seen sales processes and trends evolve over the years and through your journey?
If I’ve learned one thing in sales, it’s that core values matter. The way we treat people with respect, the way we behave, how we reward, support and enable our partners—all of these things make a difference in the results we achieve. When Panzura wins, it’s because we’ve boosted and empowered an entire ecosystem of talented and passionate people, who do what they do better than anyone else.
When a customer chooses to work with Panzura, being accountable to their success is our obligation. When a sales partner is involved in that process, I’m always looking for ways to make the experience better and maximize the value that each of us—partner, customer, and Panzura—are able to achieve. I think this is true even when it means breaking with convention, because the Panzura team and our partners will do whatever it takes to earn loyalty and ensure satisfaction.
When it comes to channel sales, what are some of the best practices that can help drive end goals; and a few challenges that sales teams still struggle with?
Our winning formula sounds simple, but really it takes a lot of work. The success of our sales partners is our success—so it’s critical that we ensure our partners have the best tools and support available to do their jobs.
For example, my team and I take a good hard look at removing any barriers and enabling our partners to close deals and achieve their best results. It’s not a one-and-done thing, but rather an ongoing process that we work at each day.
I’ll give you a couple of examples.
A few weeks ago, we announced the Panzura Guarantee, a new complementary program to ensure peace-of-mind and ease, across every stage of the customer journey starting with buying and rollout, and throughout the lifetime of a Panzura implementation. Our guarantee accelerates hybrid-cloud adoption, so more organizations can quickly and securely realize the benefits of cloud-based data management using Panzura’s award-winning technology.
We also offer a comprehensive set of channel support programs for our system integrators, value-added resellers, technology alliance partners, and MSPs.
Programs like our channel support offerings, and more recently the Panzura Guarantee, are designed not only with the customer in mind. They are there to ensure our partners are able to accelerate deals, and to make sure they are rewarded for their work. Our goal is to provide our partners with the best experience and unbeatable margins, so we can drive explosive growth together.
How are you seeing channel partnerships in the IT/B2B market evolve, and what near-term predictions do you have for 2022 and beyond?
There are a couple of things I see happening in the market that will have a significant impact on our channel partners in the near-term and beyond.
Firstly, there is a shift toward what we call “distributed data consolidation”. This means that, more and more, customers are coming to us looking for ways to reduce their data storage footprint in the cloud. We’re well positioned to reap the churn on this trend because Panzura CloudFS, our flagship global file system, is able to remove duplicate files and consolidate data into a single source of “truth” that’s always up-to-date and available. Without a doubt, we will see even more interest in this capability.
Next, the pandemic has changed the way we work forever. That means vast numbers of people will not be going back to the office, and the challenges of the last year with enabling remote work are here to stay. Our sales partners are seeing a rush to platforms that allow people and teams to work together no matter how far apart they are, or how many people are involved in a single project at the same time. Again, that’s where CloudFS has and will continue to be prescient because it enables this kind of collaboration while preventing accidental “collisions” such as different versions and overwrites.
Lastly, and possibly most importantly, we see that the transformation of the way people work has also opened up companies to a lot more risk. Ransomware, and other types of malware, are threatening data, and the infrastructure that supports that data, as never before. CloudFS is built on an immutable architecture that shields data from threats like ransomware, and if there’s ever a problem, you can recover your files in a matter of minutes. Our sales partners will continue to see a great deal of interest in ransomware protection and recovery, and solutions that can provide for true data resilience will be in even greater demand as a result.
Can you shed light on the sales technologies that have always helped you and your team drive goals, and a little bit on what it takes for sales teams across the hierarchy to truly extract optimum value from their salestech?
The sales landscape is changing. It was a process that was well underway before the pandemic hit, and we have to evaluate and evolve our own systems and processes to stay ahead. In the past, for example, it was often possible to have a single meeting together in person, around a conference room table, but now it often takes multiple Zoom meetings to get to the same result. On a certain level, that means things can take longer but at the same time, we have to find ways to use technology to speed up the process and add even more value to it.
That means we have to see our role as sales professionals differently, and focus on more revenue-centric, digital-first approaches to our work. We’re working very hard at Panzura to find the right engagement tools and platforms to replicate traditional ways of selling and interacting with potential customers. What we’re discovering, along with many of our most innovative colleagues across the industry, is that we have to be able to simultaneously use multiple, different digital tools.
We’re also looking for ways, like with our new channel programs at Panzura, to provide the technical tools for better support, training and digital enablement so our sales partners can get the job done. Adapting our sales support and enablement processes takes time, but if you want to stay relevant and drive revenue, and also reduce the odds of a lost sale, you have to optimize every interaction with technology.
A few thoughts on the future of B2B sales?
The future of B2B sales is going to be more and more about data, and about using digital channels to reach potential customers. Customers value data when they make buying decisions, and millennial buyers, as you can imagine, have a preference for data-driven decision making. Ultimately, we are going to continue seeing a breakdown of the traditional sales model, and the shift will be toward faster buying decisions driven by both data and digital channels that eliminate the obstacles of distance and risk.
Another aspect of this shift is going to be the ability to capture and utilize customer behavioral data to optimize the sales cycle itself and increase sales margins. While in the past, we have managed sales with training and activity metrics, we are going to see a transition toward more data and automation. That is not to say people will not be involved—there’s simply no substitute for humans in the sales process and that won’t change—but the increased tempo in buying, and the technology making that possible at a faster and faster pace, will continue to demand that we also increase our use of digital tools and data.
Some last thoughts and takeaways before we wrap up?
We’ve seen seismic changes over the last year or so in how the sales process works, and we’re seeing glimpses of how we will adapt and thrive in the future. We have succeeded in this period of big changes, and although there will no doubt be more to come, I’m really pleased to be a part of an organization that understands the importance of this shift.
In fact, you might say that Panzura is actually leading the shift, not only with our technology, but also with our adaptability to change and commitment to remain on the cutting edge. For instance, we made a decision to move to a 100 percent remote workforce before the pandemic—we’re pretty good at seeing what’s coming next and getting ahead of the curve. We believe that you cannot wait to make progress, and we’re here to help our sales partners achieve their goals. We have the right team and right expertise to make it happen.
Panzura replaces legacy storage with a modern approach to unstructured data, empowering organizations with a high performance, high intelligence environment, globally. Companies all around the world in the sports, healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, gaming, and architectural, engineering and construction industries, as well as government agencies use Panzura to manage hundreds of petabytes of data in the cloud.
Brian Brogan is the Vice President of Global Sales Channels, Panzura
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