Creating a successful channel team today is about more than technology. It requires team collaboration for it to succeed, which is vital in today’s highly dispersed – but very connected – digital world. It also takes help from people who understand technology, and in this case, Cisco’s business, to help IT resellers develop a successful Cisco practice.
That is why the EDGE360 team is going beyond the technology and products, to highlight the people who interact with partners every day. As part of this Meet the People series, our editorial team has been interviewing the Comstor team to get a behind-the-scenes look at the people who are incredibly important to helping value-added resellers (VARs) create profitable business lines, including building a collaboration business.
Today, we are featuring Gavin Critchlow, Comstor Product Business Manager – Cisco Collaboration. Gavin brings a background in sociology to bear on his role. It shapes his approach to counseling his customers and helping them develop their Cisco collaboration practices while understanding their needs, wherever they are in the process. Learn more about Gavin here:
How did you get started in this field and what excites you most about what you do?
I worked with a number of Security vendors for the 5+ years I spent at Westcon in Sales and Business Operations. The team I had the best interactions with were in Business Development and I chased that job for two years before landing an opportunity with Comstor. Ultimately this role evolved into Product Business Manager. What most excites me is seeing partners grow through our involvement and proving to them that they have a strong partnership with unparalleled resources in Comstor. Also, my team is the greatest group of people. I have never been more challenged and subsequently, had the most fun and experiential growth as with these individuals at this point in my life.
Tell us about your role at Comstor and how you help partners?
We help through a mix of prescriptive steps within the Cisco framework and consultative paths that we travel with our partners. It is in this Product Business Manager role where I see what differentiates Cisco from other vendors. As a partner, you choose your development with Cisco. With architectures that cover the gamut of IT, you can really choose any number of ways to grow and expand your business. We assist with that development piece through our EDGE partner enablement programs, which cover all of the major architectures with Cisco. As a Cisco partner, the growth process is constant, and the same holds true for our team. We make efforts to stay ahead of the curve, to always be a source of knowledge and support for our partner community. We continually update our resources and create training opportunities through our EDGE Programs to stay relevant in this ever-changing product landscape.
What advice do you have for partners that are looking to get started with Cisco today?
Our EDGE Quick Start program is the first stage in the process. Easy steps to get started, and you will have a constant resource person for assistance. Beyond Quick Start is where we really see the partners either thrive or fall behind. My advice is take advantage of our Product Business Management team. Like a college counselor, we exist to foster that continual forward momentum so that you as a partner can achieve what you set out to do. Still a Registered Cisco partner? We can help you get to Select partnership and show you the steps. There is a lot of information on Cisco.com. Rather than be overwhelmed by what you see, know that each tool and page of content was built and exists to assist in a specific step along the way. We can help you navigate this. We also have a tool that we built and continually improve on, called EDGE Focus that presents steps for growth that partners can chart for progression with Cisco. So yes, we try to keep our partners engaged, but ultimately keeping forward momentum is up to our partners and that is what separates those who keep growing and those who do not.
Tell us something about yourself that we wouldn’t get from looking at your LinkedIn profile or bio.
Well, I compared Product Business Management to being like a college counselor, and if you look at my job history, you will see I was an Academic Advisor for a time. I studied sociology and writing in college. I went back to school after working in sales for nearly a decade with the idea that I would do something other than sales. But then I realized that what I had studied in school really served to better my relationships and understanding of work partnerships and customers. I enjoy determining customer needs and developing training to help attend to those needs. Traveling, meeting new people, digesting and regurgitating the knowledge of technology. It is a wonderful field to be exploring and there could not be a more perfect time to be working in this environment. We are all very lucky to be in partnership with one of the top leaders in this field, Cisco.