The best way to build a successful Cisco practice, especially when you are a new partner to the Cisco community, is to know what tools you have at your disposal and who to go to for the best advice. The Cisco ecosystem is vast and sometimes overwhelming, so having a Sherpa of sorts to help you navigate it is crucial. This is why SYNNEX Comstor ensures their sales team is ready to jump in with their expertise when it counts. Especially as the Cisco financial year draws to a close this month, communication with distribution partners is imperative for the inevitable flood of last-minute bookings and making sure the customer experience remains consistent.
In this installment of the Meet the People series, we’re featuring the SYNNEX Comstor Field Sales team. These team members work closely with Cisco partners to ensure they know all of the best incentives and rebates available to them, along with all of the developmental tools for partners like the EDGE program. With their help, partners are able to build thriving, profitable Cisco practices and bring all of those last-minute deals successfully across the finish line.
Here’s what these team members had to share about their role at SYNNEX Comstor and how they are working with partners to finish the financial year strong:
Dan Forbes, Senior Director, Cisco Field Sales at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 12.5 years
Time in His Field: 24 years
Dan Forbes’ career started in 1996 with a small storage-centric distributor called Globelle Corporation, where he had a number of roles, starting with marketing and moving into product management. A job change took him to broadline distribution in 1998, where he began working with the Cisco product line in roles ranging from purchasing through product management into technical sales and specialty sales.
Forbes joined the Westcon-Comstor – now SYNNEX Comstor – team in 2008. “The most exciting thing about my role, and distribution in general, is the opportunity to see the channel from our vantage point,” he stated. “We have the opportunity to work with a number of manufacturer partners that drive unique initiatives. We work with a plethora of channel partners that represent everything from local computer stores to the largest global integrators, and we see the spectrum of end users and the technologies they deploy from a variety of vendors. There is no other role in the channel with our unique perspective and the information we can mine from that is invaluable.”
Forbes’ role in the organization is as part of a team of Cisco-focused specialty sales executives working with partners to create an optimized environment for their Cisco practice. This means they are in complete control of their earning potential from the many rebates offered by Cisco as well as optimized for the future using the EDGE platform to maintain and grow their individual Cisco architectural practices. “Our team takes our years of Cisco expertise and our understanding of the market to ensure our Cisco partners have the best selling experience in the channel.”
When asked about advice for channel partners, Forbes emphasized the importance of visibility. “So many of our partners have absolutely critical orders and have Cisco teams anxiously waiting for the booking data to be available – and yet – they wait until the last minute to share the information, or provide us with the bare minimum of detail,” he said. He continued by explaining the team spends a lot of time preparing for Cisco month, quarter and year ends. They have teams of people that work all night Friday and into Saturday to get orders booked and they have incredibly detailed pipelines from the partners that are forthcoming with that information. “Give us visibility. Share what you are doing and let us start tracking progress,” he added. “Issues are mitigated because all eyes are on the collective prize – the successful closure of your deals for Cisco’s fiscal year.”
Lee Agerton, Cisco Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 14 years
Time in His Field: 38 Years
Lee Agerton has been in telephony since the early ’80s and watched how IT technology evolved to distributed computing in the ’90s and into what we have today. “Ever evolving, technology has always provided a good fit for my experience and skill set,” stated Agerton.
When asked about his role at SYNNEX Comstor, Agerton pointed to the number of partner tools that his team develops that are focused on partner enablement. “As a Cisco Field Account Executive, my role is always focused around being the partner advocate. I think it’s important that we learn the partner environment, how they operate and what’s important to their success,” said Agerton. Having a background in Engineering, Project Management, Operations Management, Sales, Sales Management and P&L Management, Agerton brings significant value and experience to his partner relationships.
When considering how to help Cisco partners end on a high note for the financial year, Agerton acknowledges that both distis and VARs are painfully aware of the challenges that have been presented over the last several months. “Our collective environments have provided both opportunities and obstacles towards success,” he said. “What’s most important is continuing to grow our relationships, understand our business capabilities, and employing the resources available for adapting to this business environment. SYNNEX Comstor and Cisco continue to develop programs and plans to enable our collective success. Keep the lines of communication open, share challenges and let us engage to help.”
Danielle Turcot, Cisco Field Sales, Federal at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 6.5 years
Time in Her Field: 12 years
Danielle Turcot started her career in IT in 2001 with MITRE and ultimately moved into the channel in 2008 working for a large Cisco Gold DVAR as a Partner Alliance Manager. She then spent a few years as an outside Account Executive with a smaller Gold partner selling into NIH. “I came to SYNNEX Comstor in 2013 to help our federally focused partners grow their Cisco business profitably,” she said. “The best part of my job is helping our partners differentiate themselves with their end users and with Cisco.
“I help them maintain and achieve certification and specialization levels, conducting constant review of programs and promotions to make sure they are maximizing their rebate potential, and most importantly – being a champion for each of these partners within SYNNEX Comstor and with Cisco.”
According to Turcot, communication is key to the success of Cisco partners. “Keep us informed of what you have coming and what you are working on so we can best support your efforts! We offer a ton of unique solutions around finance and logistics, so bring us your problems and ideas and let us help come up with a solution that works for you and your end users.”
Ed Johnson, Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 6.5 years
Time in His Field: 17 years
Ed Johnson’s entrance into this field was born out of genuine love for technology and the many ways it can be used to solve business problems. He started his professional career as an insurance underwriter and quickly developed a reputation as the “fix it” guy in the underwriting department. “From there, I went from ‘fix it’ guy to running the local IT department and eventually transitioning into a channel role with Cisco. I worked there for 11 and a half years before coming to SYNNEX Comstor,” Johnson explained.
In his role as a Field Account Executive, Johnson helps partners build and grow profitable Cisco practices while leveraging SYNNEX Comstor as a dynamic value partner. This partnership is particularly important as the end of the year draws near for Cisco partners.
“My advice to partners working on year-end opportunities is to 1) overcommunicate with your local Cisco rep and your distribution supply chain partners, and 2) if at all possible, get your deals in early to avoid the rush during the last few days of the quarter. In some cases, the latter will be unavoidable, but effective communication and collaboration will enable us to manage expectations and get to the finish line.”
Sean Downs, Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 6 years
Time in His Field: 25+ Years
In 1991, Sean Downs started his career in quality control for the Pacific Bell SMART Yellow pages, proof-reading ads. “I advanced through the sales ranks and when computers were put on our desks in 1994 and email became the new best business practice, I knew that the future was in digital communications,” Downs stated. Over the next 25+ years, Downs learned all he could about LAN, WAN, voice, & data network infrastructure by working with companies like Pacific Bell, SBC, AT&T, CenturyLink, Bay Networks & NEC BNS.
Because these companies were supporting a wide range of vertical and market segments – from a service provider, manufacturer and integrator/reseller viewpoint – he developed a solid network of business associates and knowledge around deploying and managing mission critical network infrastructure. Downs said, “I still get excited about all the rapid change in this industry with customer experience, AI, and data analytics driving our future. But what excites me most is helping our partner community grow and develop their Cisco business practice and take it to the next level.”
In his role with SYNNEX Comstor, Downs helps partners profitably nurture their Cisco business practice through their EDGE (Engage, Develop, Grow & Extend) methodology, Go-To-Market strategy, philosophy and framework. “Whereever our partners are on the evolution of their Cisco business practice life cycle – if they are just starting out or if they are a well-established global partner – we have specific programs to help them in any capacity they need in their efforts of selling, deploying, and managing Cisco solutions,” explained Downs.
Downs encourages partners to understand what is important to Cisco and what will become important to Cisco as they transition into the ecosystem. “Annuitize your portfolio. Know and understand Enterprise Agreements (EAs & Flex EAs). Understand that Cisco’s focus will become more targeted on recurring revenue and programs like Customer Experience (CX/CE) that support improving renewal rates and thereby increaseing recurring revenue,” he said. “Leverage SYNNEX Comstor’s CX enablement program to make sure you are maximizing your Cisco business practice profitability.”
Jocelyn Stimpson, Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 3 years
Time in Her Field: 7.5 years
Jocelyn Stimpson was introduced to the IT channel through her older sister, who worked for a company called Mozy that was later sold to EMC. Her direct boss was the man who sold Mozy and started a smaller IT company thereafter. “Because of my sister’s great rapport with him, he hired me right out of school with her recommendation. It was the hardest and most rewarding part of my career, working for a startup,” she said. “From there, I took on a few different critical roles at Cisco Systems, providing me my distribution experience I use with SYNNEX Comstor.”
Stimpson’s role at SYNNEX Comstor is focused on helping partners maximize the impact and growth of their Cisco environment. “I help strategize with the executive team and share that strategy across the different levels of the company,” she explained. She works closely with nearly every department of her resellers to understand where SYNNEX Comstor can help them be successful, strategizing on everything from how to financially grow to how they can better enable and equip their teams.
Stimpson insists that partners should never take “no” for an answer. “Every time I’ve gone back after hearing ‘no’, even if it was after 50 times, it always turns into a ‘yes’ or another opportunity,” she stated. “You are also going to continue to grow thicker skin and continue to push for success. My advice would be to utilize SYNNEX Comstor AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE. We have so many amazing resources that can make partners’ jobs easier.”
Tom Brueck, Field Account Executive – Cisco at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 2 years since rejoining the team
Time in His Field: 15 years
Tom Brueck started working at SYNNEX Comstor out of college as one of his first sales jobs. Over the years, he worked at multiple distributors, manufacturers, and VARs all in the technology space. As a Field Account Executive supporting Cisco in the Mountain West for SYNNEX Comstor, he works closely with Cisco partners to help them grow their business in a profitable way. “My experience allows me the perspective from all angles of the supply chain, including the partners’ perspective, and I believe this adds a great deal of value to the conversations I have with my partners,” stated Brueck.
His advice for partners to end the Cisco financial year on a high note is to be as prepared as possible. “Things move fast and if you are prepared, you can take advantage of any and all incentives available around the end of the year,” he said. Leveraging the expertise and experience of a distribution partner like SYNNEX Comstor can greatly contribute to that preparation process.
Tom Collins, Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 8 years
Time in His Field: 8 years
Tom Collins started in sales almost 24 years ago, mostly in the mortgage and financial industry. In 2012, he had an opportunity to get into the IT industry through his close friend and mentor. “This career path offers me the ability to continue interfacing with and gaining the trust of my customers while learning about distribution,” Collins said. “After 3 years, the opportunity came available to take on a Business Development Manager role with the SYNNEX Comstor team, and I have to say, it has been the best move of my sales career. Now, I work directly with partner executives to play a part in decisions that impact their business, and that is by far the most rewarding.”
Collins enjoys being part of a Cisco-focused field sales team that has more of the partner-facing aspects that help Cisco partners grow their practice through their unique programs like SYNNEX Comstor EDGE. “The EDGE platform empowers them to maintain and grow their individual Cisco practices in an effective way,” he explained.
Collins encourages partners to keep the lines of communication between partners and distis wide open. “As we get closer to the Cisco quarter and year-end, deals are pushed at the last minute to book. We want to make sure that all team members are over-communicating. Be prepared for the unexpected, to handle situations that may need to be addressed well in advance. By overcommunicating we will make sure that together we all will be successful.”
Steven Nunes, Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 11 months
Time in His Field: 15 years
Steven Nunes began his career path in IT with a part-time job in college working for a computer service and sales company. After a few years, a friend recruited him from a reseller company to a then local private IT distributor, SYNNEX Information Technologies. He was quickly promoted from his entry-level sales role and hasn’t looked back. In his 15 years with the company, he’s had several vendor sales-focused roles for Trend Micro, Symantec, IBM, and HP, to name a few. He also spent two years in field sales, recruiting new partners for SYNNEX before becoming part of the joint SYNNEX Comstor Team.
“What excites me most is usually the chance to do something new or something that has never happened before, like helping a vendor bring a contract to the channel for the first time,” stated Nunes. “I also get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing my partners grow, develop, and prosper.”
In his current role, Nunes helps SYNNEX Comstor partners succeed in selling Cisco products by providing the resources, tools, programs, or people necessary for partners to grow their practice. His advice for partners to end the financial year strong is to utilize the wealth of resources available to them by engaging with him and his team. “The hardest need to fulfill for my partners is the one I don’t know about. The partner that engages with us can take advantage of our resources to ensure they are profiting.”
Scott Urice, Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor
Time with SYNNEX Comstor: 10 months
Time in His Field: 28 years
“I started out my IT sales career at Comdisco back in the ’90s, when the data center was ruled by IBM’s System 390 or AS/400 along with challengers like Sun Microsystems. The network battle was between token ring vs. ethernet, and the internet was just showing signs of potential,” said Scott Urice. As part of Comdisco’s inside sales team, he resold products that came off of lease, from mid-range servers to PBX switches. In 2003, he joined Avaya as a Client Executive, where over 10 years, he saw firsthand how the telecom industry went from VoIP to Unified Communications. “The most exciting part of technology sales is how it’s always evolving, offering new ways to help customers meet their business goals and challenges,” said Urice.
As a Field Account Executive at SYNNEX Comstor, his role is to develop relationships with the senior leadership of partners, understand their business model and help align them with the resources and expertise that SYNNEX Comstor has to offer. “The EDGE program brings real value by helping partners better manage their Cisco practice, whether it’s for certifications, renewals or expanding their portfolio to include all architectures,” Urice explained. “Equally important is showing them how to leverage the rebate programs to manage profitability and make the commitment to build a successful CX practice.”
In the final weeks of the financial year, Urice said it’s time for partners to focus efforts on successfully converting Cisco trial programs into a longer-term, remote worker plan. “Employees and employers are finally realizing that working from home is more than a temporary option during these times. It’s equally essential during our shelter-in-place directive and can be a time benefit to most. Cisco collaboration tools like Webex are really delivering value during this moment in time.”