WeDisrupt Sales Podcast

Episode 7: Dave Allen, Technology Adviser and Mentor unpacks the fundamentals of his operating plan and what he learnt from building advanced operations teams at NetApp & Palo Alto Networks

September 15, 2020 Will Chivers | Vaseem Khan Season 1 Episode 7
WeDisrupt Sales Podcast
Episode 7: Dave Allen, Technology Adviser and Mentor unpacks the fundamentals of his operating plan and what he learnt from building advanced operations teams at NetApp & Palo Alto Networks
Show Notes Transcript

Episode 7 - WeDisrupt Sales Podcast - We sit down with industry heavyweight Dave Allen. Dave is a Technology Advisor and Mentor has led some of the worlds most dynamic technology organisations including the likes of NetApp and Palo Alto Networks.

Dave has spent over 25 years in a variety of operations, sales and leadership roles where he has built great sales organisations from the ground up. In this episode, Dave will be unpacking:

- How he builds his operating plan

- Why having a great sales operations function is important

- The lessons he learnt from scaling both NetApp and Palo Alto Networks.

Unknown Speaker :

Hello and welcome to a short sales podcast. My name is Will Chivers. I'm driving my cars for sale calm. And we're here to interview some of the world's most influential sales leaders, revenue officers and executives on the planet. Episode Seven we disrupt sounds podcast, who do we have on the show today? What are we gonna be talking about? Today we're sitting down with the industry heavyweight Dave Allen. Dave has been in leadership roles for some of the most exciting and dynamic technology companies from the storage powerhouse NetApp, the cyber security the Palo Alto Networks, from his 25 years experience, Dave is going to be unpacking how he builds his operating plan. So what he learned from building some of the most advanced sales operations teams of today, and all the lessons he learned from scaling both NetApp and Palo Alto Networks. I hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did. Brilliant. Let's get into the show. Dave, so great to have you on the show. Welcome to the read shop sales podcast. It'd be great if you could start off a little About You, what got you into sales and what you're doing now? Yeah, sure. So, let me give the brief potted brief potted history. So, you know a bit of a little bit about me techie by trade, I think is probably the best way to start. I'm an engineer by origination, you know, coding things and young times master's degree in engineering, and physics and, and so technical innumerate as a way I would describe that long history in starting in subsea robotics in control systems and different things then into mainstream it. jobs with sun mixture of jobs and leadership roles in nap, which is still the bastion of the storage industry, I think, and, and, and then several years in exactly this year put up Palo Alto Networks. So fundamentally pretty much the global leader really right now in in in cybersecurity, which is a hot topic, especially in this crazy kind of COVID everything goes digital time that we live in. So, so interesting history. There come 2023 24 years of of it mixture of individual contributor roles consulting roles, engineering roles, sales roles, and then later on sales, leadership and executive leadership. And I kind of came out of that just just just coming up for 12 months ago, actually, into independent work. So building a lot of the leadership time that I spent a lot of my leadership kind of philosophies. And I'll spend my time independently working on a mixture of leadership coaching, team performance, high team, high performance team building, and an in parallel working on a philanthropic project will which is what to do with autism. So I'm working on a project and effectively a startup. Absolutely. You know, you tell me a pretty interesting story about, you know, all the different things you learned at NetApp. To start off, can you maybe talk a little bit about journey at NetApp? And I guess what the fundamentals were that you took away that made you so successful at the likes of Palo Alto and moving forward? Yeah, when I joined NetApp It was 2004 I remember No, that was come round about a billion dollars globally. You know, imagine 2004 we're not that far really, we're just closing down the.com crash of 2000 2002 things start to pick back up. And, you know, you know, I joined I was headhunted in effectively by the VP for the region. And and I was asked to come in and help them effectively build a deal practice called a large deal practice. We called it a bit desk. And lots of organizations can think about no kind of these kind of operations, these kind of things as back office, and I've not been back office Evans's I had the chance to stand in front of everybody in terms of how I tend to operate. So what I did is I brought in a bunch of sales methodology at the time that was I remember I built a methodology for them around siebels Taz target account selling you know, we've talked about this before, we might know my belief on sales methodologies to a great degree. Is there much of a muchness, there's a gazillion of them. Doesn't really matter which one but have one, right, whatever. You do have one Maybe we'll come back to that later. And so I put tabs in place I interviewed for anyone that wanted to engage, you know, in how we were going to go and attack large business. The whole premise of this was how do we get them start willing the million dollar plus type deals, this is back at a point where those were pretty big. And ironically, back at a time where these days you could probably fit a million dollars worth of storage from 2004 and you know, on a on a wafer card, you can stick in your phone these days, how the world has changed in 18 years or 15 years. But um, so that's what I did. I interviewed the sales guys. I ran them through a qualification process. I didn't even realize I was really running them through. At the end of it, I built my assessment I sent them my assessment and where there were enough things answered. I said, I think we're ready to go engage properly, we did, picked up a bag and off we went. So went out and did a whole bunch of genuine one to one type negotiation with with net apps clients of prospecting clients and some of the big ones telcos like Vodafone companies that don't exist anymore, like energist when they were in a big, big, big energy companies. So and and and quite a range of others. A member stuff without us, you know, building storage on demand type frameworks back when those were new myself and a guy in Germany basically got together and pretty much built that program for that app. And so one of those things, he kind of got me Got me got me started. And, you know, I think during that process, I did so much kind of very detailed commercial work. At one point, I pretty much deconstructed napsw entire global price book and the way they would do price derivation because I needed to do quite complex negotiation. And at one point, I had one of our poor inside sales guys. So he do this modeling. Because of the way our systems work, I'll need about 170 different quotes from you. And it was one of those kind of went, Wow, this is so horribly painful. What can I take from this, and I built a system and it was it was eight pages of a4 wide when you sell it, taped it together. And I built a spreadsheet effectively that just said, Okay, now whenever I stick a set of numbers in or some discounts, I can recalculate everything in the row. And I got it to about 1% accuracy of what the systems did. So I used that to do most of my contractual commercial modeling. So we could be much more dynamic in what we did. With all of that, guess what I got to understand the mechanics and the business in there really quite well. And then we went on I was asked to enter to go and build sales operations, I hide in some, some other kind of call it sales competent folks for bizdev I hired in some channel operations people, and effective I became the commercial director of the business. So when I was building they're building the operating plans and executing those doing the comp plan stuff I was obviously doing the complex negotiations all of the key deals the critical deals, when they got to a point of commercial meaning both either financial or legal complexity pretty much would arrive at my door. I you know, and I would pick up those typically going running chair the negotiations, I was like the, you know, we're getting stuck escalation point for for most things at the time. And and yeah, it was a it was a it was a fun time that we business was growing the markets doing well back in those those times. You know, storage is hot and there's a big transformation going on that was shifting, shifting things well, and You know, into the into that arena now that was well was well positioned. And I think it was during that time I also had the opportunity to pick up much more about you know, what company culture meant and son had a great company called trash it really did and the alumni networks today still still cherish those times that we had. But when I come to attend to NetApp, I had the most definitely the fortune to spend a chunk of time and you know, and develop both a friendship he was a mentor to me, he was also a friend in a gentleman called Tom and those whose the he was one of the earliest folks inside NetApp he was the global sales lead. He's these days still the the vice chairman of the company, and Tom did exceptionally well, massive about culture and the the the the imprint of what culture means. And that's been studied a few times. He's got the Mendoza College of Business in the US around the impact of culture, and I know he's lectured at West Point in places so I had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with him. And developer, a lot of developer, you know, really, really good relationship, but I also got just I got to See him sat you know as a senior executive what seems sat we sat together in a member of cafe Nero in in Covent Garden, just having a coffee, he's gonna make some calls, need to make some calls and we had this thing called catch, catch someone doing something right the whole point of positive reward process of just calling out good things and he was literally they're making calls and none up at this point was now several thousand people and he's just sat there making some calls and be like, Hey well it's Tommy and people will go I know what they're what they know that the president the company is calling me Yeah, yeah. And people were quite rude it was yeah screw you know, this isn't Tommy Mike someone's winding me up. And he would just be saying hey, listen, I just called this past called me and he just said it was in great things I heard about you, I just want to say we really appreciate what you're doing and and you know, you just you could you could you could hear the conversation. It just set a cultural marker for me and number of things I take from my personal leadership, belief structure, if you like and how I subsequently then went to lead on teams and other things. Definitely stems from that. And I think one of the phrases To use as I've always loved, just people don't care what you know, until they know that you care. There's one thing for me that I'm really keen on as well, because as big part of you said about your role at NetApp, you were talking about expanding the deal practice and building out negotiation. What did you learn from that experience? I guess, what do you feel that you've got right here? What did I learn from them? The one thing is cemented to me because the very first thing I did I think I built the Taj qualify, right? Great. I remember I won't name him but he still still loaded I send it to a sales guy said, Yeah, fill this in, send it back to me, and we'll talk about it. And I got what I got back was, to be honest, such a poorly building feeling piece of crap. And they just called me that moment where I went, yeah, don't forget, you know, salespeople, hate administration, they hate process. And so one of the things I think I got right was effectively in reality, I ran it and I'm what I mean by run it is I didn't sit there and say, Well, here's a spreadsheet. Here's a form to go fill in, like an engagement form. Go fill that in. And when you've answered enough questions by ticking the boxes for you, then we can go and actually do some work. I didn't do that. I get on the phone with you. Hey, well, and I'm No, no inquiry, we're gonna spend an hour and I'm gonna affect it, we're gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna review where we're at. And this is so you could clear that when we review that we got a lot of questions, a lot of different things was done was you're talking to me, I'm taking my notes, and I'm building out a profile at the end of it, I'll send you an email, send you an assessment, and they're nearly every salesperson back went, Wow, this is awesome. Actually, I didn't realize where these gaps are. And it became very easy to then mobilize people to say, next thing to do. I think anyone that does do reviews and things I've done lots of them over time, as you can imagine, been in number been in a number of them as a contributor. And then also, I've run a lot of them now. And I think, you know, everyone gets kind of worried about things I don't know, but I say No, there's nothing to be worried about. The sales isn't local about sales in many senses. It's it there's, there's an art form, I believe, to sales, there's a is a resilience required to be effective in sales, but also at the same time, there's simplicity to it, there's something you don't know, take an action, go find out. Job done, right next, right. You know, and, and so, but when you go to when you have a good review process, you can go do that. So I found that that building that underlying framework gave me something at the end that was like tangible between me and the the account owner at the time. It gave us a normalized kind of almost like a data basis basis in data for where we're at. and data driven decision. You know, I've talked about I'm a big believer in data driven decisions. So data driven decision manages to park some of the emotion and the assumption, just get the assumption, but I think this That's great. That's what you think, what do you know? You know, that's great. That's what you believe. What's the evidence? You know, those types of things do spell it all out. And it was quite mobilizing just a high level very quickly. So what does that detail look like? So if you if you had to sort of describe that plan, you know, what would be sort of the, you know, what that really is? You know, I mean, it was so much as the simple things. These days you put it into Bantam in today's it was, you know, what's the opportunity? Is it worth winning? Can we win kind of who do we compete with, you know, that type of thing. In current parlance, I'd say a lot of people go with the band your budgets, authorities needs and timelines, right. Do you knows though Do you know those Things are medic, you know, any, any any of these types of things, and all they're really doing is making sure you qualify the questions underneath. So often, a loss review really is really about what steps did we miss? Which blind spots did we did? Which blind spots? Did we have to on reflection, we already know that we never covered off that stakeholder. Why not? Well, you know what, because we didn't have that stakeholder list. Oh, well, why not? Well, actually, we didn't really do a stakeholder analysis on this opportunity. Yeah. Right. You know, or, yeah, the competition really outbid us on this, or how did that happen? Or they were just cheaper. Really? What What did we know about where the price points were in the budget guidance? Well, we thought we were getting this well, how did we qualify, you know, and you just start to dig these things back in usually, it'll be at some point. You know, what, no, they built a relationship into the financial guys and we stayed focused on the it leader. Okay, so, you know, when you start looking at these things, there's just there's this process, there's consistency and what I would say is that, you know, whichever one of those things like the budget, all these nine lines, Taz Miller hymens blue sheets, gold sheets, you know, there's a there's a there's a big ol range of sales qualifiers and methodologies. And like I said, I think to a great degree, I think we use sportsman, Scotsman. or know all these types of things. And really, they're all just just some set reminder checklists, but so many people don't use them. So many salespeople don't use them. There's so many salespeople think they're there for administrative purposes for their boss when the boss asks. And the best again, some of the best sales guys that I've had the the the luxury of my team are the ones where, when they come at it, they have those things, because typically they're running it for themselves. They're using it themselves to run their process, run their deal. That's how they make sure they don't miss anything. So when I as the leader, or the leader leaders come along and says, Let's take a run at the deal. They're not sat there going, Oh, yeah. Can we do that deal review on Tuesday day rather than Monday. So I'm in the background meaning so I've got time to write it. They're the ones that kind of go, Yeah, no problem. I'll send you what I've got. And that's brilliant. Then I can look and go, Oh, let me read that. Brilliant. And now I'm just going to go now we're going to talk to it. I'm not I don't want you to walk me through it because I can Right, right, I'm literate. I want you to let's talk around it and actually do something constructive, but what might help move the deal? So you know, thank you. That's really interesting. So what I want to do I want to bring the call, bring the conversation forward slightly. So you went into Palo Alto effectively as the big dog, you know, you've got the big job. Earlier, you kind of you kind of talked about operating plan. So we're going to take the conversation now is, firstly, understand that what what is the operating plan? What, what consists of an operating plan? And then talk us through how you implemented that plan in going into that allowed? I guess, so what is an operating plan? I mean, companies will define a little bit depending on your role and structure as to what your operating plan needs to contain. But at the base level, you know, the reality is it's it's a it's a mixture, obviously, you know, it's its revenues and costs and headcount planning, its resource allocation. It's depending on it in netup, I used to do more comp plan design allocation that was a little bit more centralized in Palo Alto. It would be, you know, budgeting, you know, so no carving out the budgets, all the usual things, how much money Can we spend on marketing? What we do if we do these things? How do we, how do we creatively plan to accelerate headcount using things like, well, if X percent of the team over achieves actually won't say it over achievement, the loaded cost of employing people starts to decrease relative in your business. So actually, that gives you a bit more slack. So you, you do lots of things around the financial planning for a good for a good organizational leader, you want a good finance business partner, I would say, you know, in nearly all of my time, having a good a good finance partner has been a has been a an essential, you know, good, good agreement. So just just before we settle into it. So we're seeing operations be a lot more important in so what I mean operations, like set sales ops, and that function be a lot more important in terms of an operating plan. How, how have you seen that mature and how important was that for you in terms of building an operating plan? And I think sales ops is important, I think, you know, I always think that, you know, it's a bit like I'm saying about the kind of you're kind of a bit desktop that you could be In the background of being administrator filling in boilerplate templates, you could be in the foreground qualifying working with the clients running the deals and really working hand in hand side by side with the account teams to go win. And those are two quite different things. I think sales ops falls into a similar bucket there is I mean, there's a certain amount of, you know, data science and other things that the ops team should be able to bring. But I think, for me, the best people I've seen in sales, Ops, and you know, men in their men, men in a self effacing way, I was quite a good one. It's because I know you want people to understand the client, you know, again, you know, for anything in life, everybody you hire in your business, everyone's in sales. Your first job is sales. Your second job is whatever the hell else it is you're hired to do, right? So your job in sales, your first jobs in sales, don't mean you're literally carrying a bag. No, but it means you should be everything you can to create efficiency, support the sales organization, make them effective. Think about how you can make them effective, take crap away, that slows them down, take crap away, that stops them spending time in front of clients, because that's where the money is right? So, you know, if you're completely back office internally facing person, then that's not what you do. So even for sales, I think it is important. But I think some of the best ones spend some time with partners spend some time with, witnessed with some customer experience. They have external experience. They spend some time they've done some days in the life of with the sales team, some days in the life or with professional services that is in the life of a systems engineers and the classic kind of vendor type market, there are those kind of core field roles. And so when they're then contextualizing all the stuff inside the business, they've got some understanding of what those roles are, what they need and the pressures of those roles. Unless you spend a day carrying a number falling on the sword. If it doesn't work, then you've never spent a day in sales, right? You don't know. Yeah. Okay. So, all right. So, and thank you for that. Okay, so so moving the conversation forward, right. You built your operating plan, Palo Alto, Palo Alto you walked in, talk us through, you know, talk us through implementing that operating plan in a day. This is sort of a 730 or whatever it was. Yeah. I mean, I was when I was trying to join in Palo Alto going into run, you know, the UK I in Sub Saharan Africa business. You know, I did a couple of meetings beforehand to get a sense as to where the business was, relative. All these things I've asked you never know until you're in. You Don't Have you never have you don't have access to the numbers on the boards and other things until you're in. So, you know, I remember I do remember my first 96 hours at Palo Alto Networks really quite vividly. I'd met with the the outgoing guy called weeks before coming down to quarter I joined it effect what was the start of q3 at the half year? Right. 2016. So February 216. And, and you know, I met with you guys a couple weeks prior to January. How's the quarter ending? How's it shaping up? Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep, around form. Everything's gonna be okay. Okay. It's always good to know what you're stepping into for momentum perspective. How's the forecast looking for the current quarter? Yeah, forecast looks, looks looks looking okay. Okay, good Judah tree, a little bit of know who's doing what in the team that type of stuff with the outgoing leader. Because the outgoing leader was transferring back to the US. So us guy jumps over to us. And so I got into battle out on my first day, Monday Oh 800 I'm in the I'm in the 750. In fact, I'm in the office in the city. And my laptop's there. So I put my laptop. Amazingly, after three minute call with it, my passwords will work. I have salesforce.com access, you know, I'm pretty systems literate and so I was straight in there, click click alyssum dashboard, this funnel source things frickin awesome. Look at that, I can see Oh, that's really good. That took us ages in that up. So Palo Alto is data science and data quality was just a was honestly was a step up. It was. It was refreshing in many ways and great some of the things that used to take a lot of time, and that therefore difficult to do, were quick and easy to impound. I had the the sales leaders, my leadership team, my sales leaders in the office that day, I took them all listen, let's let's all meet. I'm going to do a call at 830 with the European leader, my boss. And, you know, really it's gonna be a check in but I know in reality that there's a podcast right there's a starting record, everyone wants a 30 6090 so why I got the glass board and I penned some numbers up there, I looked through the dashboards, and he goes, give me some numbers. But then the first thing I really had to ask them was what actually happened, guys, because, you know, you know, two weeks ago, I was told everything was fine. But actually, as I come in there, that was a crash, that I mean, that was a miss and not a kind of 97% Miss, it was a bit bigger Miss, what happened, there's a moment of silence, and they're going to go, guys, we're going to start this from a basis of trust. And, you know, I just need to know, I work on facts. I work on objectivity. If this thing's really fixable, let's go fix them. But I need to know where we're at. And I got this kind of outpouring, well, you know, the classic, where we reported that these things won't happen, this deal was never going to happen. And so some of this shouldn't have been a surprise. But here's where we got to. And, you know, and it's just a whole kind of that classic outpouring of that of one of those situations where, you know, when people say, you give them your forecast, and then they say, That's nice, that's not the number I need, give me another number. And at some point, I just make one up 90 day forecast, this that kind of thing. So um, so I had to unpack quite quickly where the team felt, where they were emotionally just a leadership team. We put some numbers up I then lose what I'd seen in Salesforce already. I asked some questions, you know, not my first rodeo, and I put in a 30. On my first day I put in a 30 6090 forecast, which 90 days later turned out to be pretty much on actually, which was a surprise to everybody. I'm sure we came in, you know, where we said we would be on q3 came out of q4 killed the q4. So the outbound story is good, but in effect, I got all the data. And then in that period of time also was like now trying to assess the team look at the numbers, you start to get the dashboard of who the reps who's, who's red, who's green, who's amber and all that kind of stuff. There was a lot of stuff missing at that point. I didn't have an ops person so I had to build my own I built my own forecasting, kind of sheets if you like with Salesforce and some other things so I could work out where the how things really work to establish the operating plan halfway through the year some hiring to be done, you know, the channel team was supposed to be two people wanted already resigned before I joined so they were there for the last 10 days. You know, it's one of those kind of, you know, you get that kind of, you know, almost a light you know, that that thing Get rid of homes, I've sold you the picture of a swing, but what I'm selling you to kind of get some open if it would, it was a little bit like that. Not to not to be unkind, but just kind of okay. But actually, you know, in one sense I, in my, in my first couple days I did that did the 30 6090 analyze with the team? And then I said, this is all hands coming. What's the plan for that? There's no hands tomorrow, no Tuesday? What's the plan? And they looked at me kind of blankly Well, there wasn't really a plan on what we're gonna communicate with the group. So now, what we need to communicate, so I said an even number. So I gave everyone a task and said, we're going to do this with a half a day. And we also were doing kind of team QPR. So in the first 90 day, first three days, 96 hours I did, I did all the numbers, the original original forecast numbers got an impression of the of the operating capabilities of what was going on in the business assigned your hands. I then did the reviews with the what was at the time the enterprise team, the territory team, and the public sector named team as it was at the time and and an all hands with The entire group, I'm sure everybody's right everybody in the room. So by the end of the Wednesday of my first week, I done the forecast, got all the numbers met every single person in the team. And and then the chance to get in front of the team and effectively lay out my stall at that point bass. I wasn't laying out his operating plan, but I did lay out you know, things that are, you know, things that are important to me. And one of the things I dwelled upon at that particular one was was mindset. And I said to the team at the time, I'm a big believer if you believe you can or you believe you can't, whichever way you're probably right. You know, Henry Ford, right. And, and I said, So looking at this, I'm quite energized by the people I've had to see so far. And I think a lot of goodness in here. I can also see a series things we need to get right. And I can see a certain amount of air cover is needed for this team to allow us to regroup because there's a lot of, you know, pouring in from other parts of our global business of various things, especially when the teams just missed a quarter room. And the the QB ours I attended 10 days later, the European ones where I was really kind of Watching the process, I mean, they were quite spectacular to watch. And that's when I realized, okay, I need to put an umbrella up and put some coverages across the team, bring the team together, start the huddle, start working through the honesty points, work out where we could do and effectively put some wind at the team's back as fast as possible. So not just getting them started demanding of them, but get in there work out what was what was needed, and start, you know, giving and supporting them. And, and we started, you know, we started a role there. And then by the time I ended, and in q4, that's when we're doing operating planning, so resource planning and other things. And, you know, when we were planning, you know, significant growth numbers 30 to 40%, growth numbers, you know, the key, the key goal is right, revenue revenue, right. And then you're building a go to market How do you know where to focus on a go to market perspective, whether it's right we need to build a bigger channel organization. We need to build a better a direct go to market model, or we need to build a better si integration model, right. So for you coming into a business, where do you know Where to focus? Where are the quick wins versus, you know, perhaps the longer term investments such as channel size and so forth? How do you find that balance? I think you start, you start thinking from the customer and come back, you know, how does the customer get access to your products or services? What are the things they need for them to be successful? Who are they going to help you identify which of the key the key partners, which partners, you know very well, from this perspective for Palo Alto, I'm coming into cyber security, we know which at that point in time wasn't what it is today, no security at the service edge, all these kind of modern paradigms of cyber now, back then it was pretty much coming out of network and perimeter and just starting to evolve security in the cloud had not really come together in any way back it just at that point, it was just starting to so so I was looking at a channel I don't know I guess 20 years of working with channel partners right so channel the channel to me, you know, I know some some people in some direct sales, channel tax nice things. That's not it. The channel is a huge, capable resource. With some fabulous customer relationships that vendors need to understand how to partner and manage and work with, and support, and there are some games and everyone plays a few games here and there, but, but it's a great resource. So I'm not sure it's always long term. Sometimes you get some short term quick wins out of the channel when you're when your relationships around. So we start from the fine, we're back, who are they coming to? Which one should we service service directly in Palo Alto intermitted. Effectively, I'd say 100%. Channel transacted business. And so then you're trying to work out what that transaction means or where where are the POS pass, that doesn't always translate to where does all the engagement go? And what and then you got to look at your your products, if your products are differentiated by value differentiation, as in my things, does things the others don't do my things does things better in this way than the others don't do, etc. Then you got to have a group of people that can go and tell the customer that otherwise there's no way for you to differentiate and then you end up in the price war problems. And everyone's complaining about margins and other things. So it's a bit of a broad Assessment bass look at go on listen to snow for me to find out some of the better sales guys listen to their pitches, learn, you know you go new in business who are the guys have been most successful Now tell me how you're pitching them go watch that go towards some customers what worked well what didn't work well, you know what are we doing? What are you hearing from competition? You know make sure those things work out who their most key structured partners are the ones that do take longer to gestate in partners are most definitely the integrators and the service providers because they tend to be building service books and run books around capabilities to sell the ones that can move much faster are the you know, the kind of the more the the obviously the resellers and within that, I'd say the integrator resellers obviously no reseller was just reselling your tech, because very few customers are only buying your tech, they're buying yours and a bunch of other stuff in order to make it do something. And so that's where the massive strength in the resellers are. And then also in it coming into an established business and Palo Alto wasn't a startup right? So coming into establishment, it's gonna look at the data. Look at the data lines, see who is selling what who has been successful. And you know, it's quite often people rotate towards where a relationship is good, but The numbers don't support it. We're spending all our time with this little reseller because we love them. That's awesome. They honestly aren't selling anything. Why are you doing that? Will they sell? Am I missing? Will they sell something? Will they sell more, if not, we're over rotated on them, we need to chop, chop some of that out, maybe move that to a no an indirectly managed relationship. And make sure we do focus at the places where we can drive, drive massive value. So it's a mix of it's a mix of all those things and married into it. But let's say some, some experience coming into a team. I think if you're running a UK and Ireland business, you know, post COVID means but the UK and Ireland business, you need to focus on financial services. And you need to focus on public sector. They are the two largest singular sectors in the UK from a point of view of tech and sales, right? So if you're not focused on those, you got a problem when I joined Palo Alto, though there was a brilliant is still there, a brilliant guy that knows public sector inside now. But he was managing a couple public guys in reality in a name team and other things like great Well, we're gonna change this by the time we get into this quarter. I need you to run public sector. And we're going to build that we're going to invest in that. Why is that we start That now that will yield that's where some of the biggest deals will come from. Because public spends your build time build trust public spends, then you look at the big accounts on the financial services side and, and all this type of thing. And then and then after that you start spinning out your territories differently. No, I quite like I quite like vertical focus. I don't think you have to be vertically structured, you have to be the automotive team, you know, with, you know, but I like vertical. I like vertical focus, because I think it provides a commonality of language across your customer base, you start to learn and develop expertise. And then when we were talking about a new said, No selling into comms and media, we're going to sell to media, you once you once you've been in to see you know, half a dozen media companies, your language starts to develop as the salesperson. So by the time you're talking to media company number seven, the reality is part of your value is you're regurgitating what you heard from media company number one, right? And it's valuable. It's value generating financial services. Everyone says, Oh, you know, jP jP MC, don't talk to Barclays and Barclays. Don't talk to HSBC. That's rubbish. Your data at the pubs down at Canary Wharf a normal situation. They're all in there having a chat. No, I completely agree. I think that goes on quite well to my next question, the terms that whenever I look at a new company to join, I think timing in terms of the market is really important. Yeah. And I guess what I'll be interested to understand is, do you and how much do you consider the time that the market compared to the product, when you look at your operating plan and kind of how you look at your business? Yeah, interesting question. I think and I guess, in a sense, I've, I've definitely been in a situation I go back to my days in Sunbury briefly, you know, where we had some great products or services, but it was too early. We were selling $1 per hour per CPU services to run, while at the time was the de facto Oracle systems back in 2002. This is before the cloud existed, but effectively, it was the cloud. It was brilliant. It was awesome. It was robust and everything else, but nobody could buy it. Nobody had this sophistication to consume it. It was it was too early. Right? So in that sense, great. And if you imagine just a little bit longer for son, look at the cloud market today. Right? You know, it's obviously big and established, obviously to continue to evolve and change. But but we have the genesis of that at the time, but it was too early market wasn't ready. And so one sense for sure, too early to market markets not ready too late to market. You're already in the Me too, and someone else has stolen probably the, as we like to call it, the thought leadership March, right, you know, oh, you're just like these guys. They're comparing you to somebody that's already made the noise in the market already. So there is definitely a timing to that. You've got this opposition of forces, you're an internal business, say, go sell version one of the product, and you're the sales team. And again, guys, I'm afraid the markets not really looking for version one of the product. We need these two things in order for this to be an almost like MVP, minimum viable product, viable product that the market is actually going to buy. And then what we also need is people is for the services and things to be established. And I think what vendor companies often do is they build and construct product processes and everything else. And then they later come back to your question about the channels. But then they they come and say, right, and now we'll start the channel program. And I kind of think if you start thinking in time terms, think about timelines to anything. Bringing a product to market doesn't happen the day you release, it takes time, six months, people to even understand you've got a new product and what it is and get in front of them and them to think about it. Most companies, especially any enterprises, financial service, others, they're not going to buy version one. Because they know version one will be superseded by less bugs in version one dot one is a minimum, right? So, so they're not gonna buy version one. So then you got well, when's the when's that gonna come? So the sales process takes it takes takes a period of time. And then what I find is also then they then there's an expectation that the user is going to get out faster than it does and why is that we think your channel driven business there's a lot of a lot of tech is, you know, your channel driven is a core part of you go to market. If you don't start your channel program and training until you launch your product. I don't know if it takes you three months to train your own organization. 2000 people I don't know Gonna take you to train 350 or 1000 companies and their sales team, there's another six months plus they're right and they're getting meanwhile all that bombardment from all of the competitors that are also having to sell them for a while. So I think there's an under an underestimation of what it takes to drive focus to launch products fast and to have the like say the things like professional services so when the customer buys it, you're not just making up the services on the spot. And all of these things are important because they come to sales confidence. I'm the sales guy his product one I've been beaten with a stick to go and sell it I can already see because I'm you know, semi technically the salesperson or my engineer tells me it's missing some stuff. I don't the customer but let's start the process because we know we know we have to and we've got to go there. And then deep down I know that my none of my partners got any skills to implement it yet. And also I know at some point cuz this isn't my first rodeo as a sales guy. service organization may not get the first set of implementations bang on, right. And so all these things that are competence, so then you get the question, am I even positioning it as forcefully as I would something I'm really confident Everything is ready for and so there's that as you see there's like an ecosystem of stuff there that that is possible. It's possible to get to get right and there's no there's no such thing as a perfect anything if you wait for perfect you wait forever. But um, but I do think there's a there is some things to be thought about there and a lot of it then comes down at the end of it and my army, my sales team effectively not just teaching them to pitch, are they having the confidence to go out knowing that when this comes through, we are ready 100% to push through or whatever it takes to make those first 50 implementations awesome because obviously we're building referencing and anything that comes back I've got the the tiger team there, the hit score, whatever it is, on the developer side, you come back with a bug, I'm gonna squash it in 14 days done, that kind of thing. So, I mean, there's so much we could talk about I guess, for me, I think I'd love to wrap up with a few quick questions though. There must be a number of books that you could be able to recommend now that you share. So it was awesome. The top of mind, top of mind for books. So you tell me what kind of books will help people. Yeah, one of one of the ones I read on time ago and I really liked it was it's almost a classic book these days was by Susan Jeffers, it's called feel the fear and do it anyway. But it's a really good book and you know, it talks around, you know, the title is an obvious giveaway, but talks around the negative voices the positive voices and the things that mobilize you and how to step past them. And I think for a lot of people fear uncertainty and doubt undermine them every day at work and at home and and put everything aspect of life in terms of things they could do. And actually, if they just step past the fear, they probably would do might enjoy. Nice and, and for me, I mean, and tech is booming, but I think particularly now, we've just just seen like a massive influx of innovation, I guess, you kind of looking at all these different industries. Are there any particular markets or type of products that you're kind of like, wow, this is this is going to be really big thing. You know, number one, they're my alma mater. So cybersecurity, there's no doubt right? I mean, one of the things you've certainly seen is that is the, you know, accelerated shift to digital and even Those that are maybe lagging have just been dragged into the digital age. Right? I think another one for me that I would pay close attention to an RPA robotic process automation. So automation anywhere blue prism UI path, is when you look at a lot of processes like you know, the financial auditing of an account. It's, it's, you know, it's 95% process, you know, to a degree, then overlaid obviously, with with some specific experience from you could take a lot of that process checking, and you can build RPA components into that you've just done it number one faster, number two, cheaper. It has been an absolute pleasure to have you on the show. So thank you so much. Transcribed by https://otter.ai