When you partner with an IT distributor, it is important to understand who will be able to help you get the most from the deals you bring in and create the best customer experience possible. What makes SYNNEX Comstor stand out is how they work hand-in-hand with the partner to make sure that partners are educated on the latest deals, rebates, and incentives.
In this latest installment of the Meet the People series, we are featuring the SYNNEX Comstor Customer Experience team. This team helps partners understand the opportunities of lifecycle sales as the technology moves away from hardware to software. In this new environment, VARs need to know how to directly connect IT investments to business impacts. Leveraging Customer Experience best practices, this team helps those VARs identify key performance indicators (KPIs) based on business outcomes, recurring revenue opportunities, and build a plan to increase profitability.
Joe Vlajcic, Director, Customer Experience at SYNNEX Comstor
Time at SYNNEX Comstor: 4 Years
Time in this industry: 12 Years
Joe has a vision for customer experience in the IT channel and he heads the CX team at SYNNEX Comstor. He explained that when Cisco launched their Customer Experience initiative it was to ease the transition from selling hardware to the subscription economy, where software and services sales follow a different sales cycle.
“Many of us grew up selling hardware, maintenance, and partner services, which is periodic and project-based. That world was dramatically different: for example, a forklift upgrade for a network might happen every 5-7 years,” Vlajcic explained. “Now, software lifecycles, which start at the time from purchase to consumption to renew or expand, are around 11 months on average. That requires a really different set of motions inside a VAR. We have a lot of partners asking how they support that and set themselves apart in that world.”
“We help partners get the most out of their Cisco practice so they deliver the best results for themselves and their customers,” Vlajcic told us. “Cisco’s own CX practice is about creating clear connections between the technology and business outcomes. We do a lot to promote those best practices and ensure our partners can similarly expect measurable outcomes from SYNNEX Comstor’s offerings.”
Of course, this past year has been a bit of a blur with all of the drastic changes due to the pandemic. Vlajcic shared that he has experienced “so many revelations over the past year.” Most notably, he said that “we all found out we could keep our same cadences going and our relationships strong virtually. Honestly, cutting down on travel has helped us increase our activity level in some cases – productivity can really increase when you’re not on planes 2-3 days per week!”
Carl Paul, Partner Success Manager at SYNNEX Comstor
Time at SYNNEX Comstor: 1 year 6 months
Time in this industry: 14 years
Carl Paul has had an interesting career path where he has learned to adapt and grow along the way. He worked with several Cisco partners since entering the IT channel and when he saw the industry shifting to a software and services model, he knew that Customer Experience (CX) would be critical. He joined SYNNEX Comstor to consult and help Cisco partners create Customer Success practices. Now, he works with partners and other SYNNEX Comstor regions to assist in understanding Cisco’s Customer Experience program and what it takes to create a successful and profitable CX practice.
“The fascinating thing that I learned during the pandemic is how versatile people really are,” Paul told us. “Most went from being very social and in-person to being very sociable virtually. People looked to technology for answers to questions that hadn’t even been thought of before – and the technology really delivered in amazing ways.”
Paul noted that most of that technology was “in the form of cloud-based software, giving people the ability to continue working and not just surviving but thriving.” This concept of delivering value to the customer at the point of need is at the core of customer experience. “During the pandemic, being able to help Cisco partners learn and understand how they could continue to not only support their customers but help their customers grow during a difficult time is where SYNNEX Comstor stood out,” Paul said.
Kevin O’Grady, Business Development Manager, SYNNEX Comstor
Time at SYNNEX Comstor: 3 years
Time in the Industry: 37 years
With nearly four decades in the industry, Kevin O’Grady knew he wanted to work in technology when “PCs and networks were in their infancy, desktop apps were basically a word processor and a spreadsheet; email and graphics were barely a functional group. It was all very exciting to me.” When he started working at a large software company, he found that “software applications were in my blood.” When he moved to the IT channel and started working with the reseller channel, he discovered that features and functions of technology were not what matter most…profitability was most critical.
Thirteen years ago, he joined Cisco as a Services Business Development Manager, which was his first hardware product company. “The common denominator has been working with resellers throughout my career,” O’Grady told us. “Helping partners to grow their business and be as profitable as possible is what excites me about what I am doing today.” Currently, O’Grady is responsible for partners on the east coast from Maine to Florida and assists them in navigating many of Cisco’s incentive rebate programs, the new CE Specializations (Cisco’s Customer Experience partner badge), and helping them transition their Cisco sales model to recurring software practice.
“Customer Experience is something that we all see in all walks of our lives today,” O’Grady said. “It is changing the way that we do business in today’s economic climate. It is no longer selling products and solutions to customers and hoping they see the value in what you have sold them. It is now more about consumption and the use of a product or solution to obtain your goals.“
Alvaro Barron, Business Development Manager, SYNNEX Comstor
Time at Comstor: 1 year
Time in this industry: 6 years
Alvaro Barron told us that the technology and the IT industries have intrigued him since he was a kid. In 2014, he was overseas and attended a technology expo in Milan, Italy, where he met representatives from Cisco and other technology vendors. “I see technology as a main propellent to human evolution and I’m fascinated by how it’s made us more productive than ever before. I’ve always craved to be an active part of that digital transformation.” Now he is helping partners transform their business by implementing customer experience best practices.
“Buyers are smarter and more educated on the products and services they seek. They have more options, and most importantly, buyers recognize the value and profitability that comes from looking after their technology investments for the long term,” Barron told us. “That’s where the SYNNEX Comstor CX team comes in. We will help you achieve long-term profitability by laying out the framework and best practices to help you earn customer loyalty and bigger profits.”
Barron concluded by looking back at the lessons from the pandemic and the biggest one being that time is short, and now is the time to act. With that said, he believes, “CX is here for the long run, but we have to act now to achieve our desired outcomes.”
Brian Merrill, Cisco Business Development Manager at SYNNEX Comstor
Time at SYNNEX Comstor: 2+ Years
Time in this industry: 26 Years
Brian Merrill has been in the technology industry since 1994 when he sold risk analysis software, before working for Cisco as a Channel Account Manager. He has seen a lot of change in the industry during his career, but the most significant change came with the COVID-19 pandemic, spurring a work-from-home environment.
“Before the pandemic, many never utilized collaboration software like Cisco WebEx. Now if you are not using the latest and greatest conferencing tools you are a step behind other companies,” he told us. “And Cisco has met that demand with so many great new features” He added that the pandemic accelerated the innovation of remote working and collaboration tools.
The pandemic has also emphasized the importance of relationships in this remote environment. Merrill told us that relationship building and learning what he could of partners so he could help them become successful in building their Cisco practice, is one of the areas he enjoyed most. “There are a lot of resources that SYNNEX Comstor offers to Cisco partners that many do not know about. We can help fill the gaps and drive increased profitability for the partner,” he said.
Merrill encouraged partners to engage with the SYNNEX Comstor team virtually. “We can prepare a customized business plan that will help them become more successful. We know the ways that partners can become more profitable selling Cisco.
”To learn more about what the SYNNEX Comstor Customer Experience (CX) team can do for you, please contact the SYNNEX Comstor CX team at CiscoCX@synnex.com to schedule a discovery call and account planning session with a certified Customer Success Managers or click here.