Top Gun 51 Profile: Cato Networks’ Nick Fan on Master Agent, Partner Relationship Success

Channel Partners Top Gun 51 logo

Cato Networks‘ foray into the master-agent channel has helped create triple-digit growth.

So says Nick Fan, the SD-WAN vendor’s vice president of Americas sales. Fan, who joined the Israeli vendor in 2017 from Aryaka, has been spearheading Cato’s channel. He tells Channel Partners that Cato’s channel grew 500% between 2018 and 2019.

And the industry is noticing. A panel of distributors, master agents and analysts recently placed Fan on the Top Gun 51 list. The new award recognizes channel executives who have demonstrated commitment to their partners’ success.

We interviewed Fan about his career and his accomplishments at Cato and have edited the transcript for length and clarity.

Cato Network's Nick Fan

Cato Network’s Nick Fan

Channel Partners: How did you get into the channel?

Nick Fan: I’ve been in the carrier space since 2001, ever since I graduated college. I started with MCI WorldCom and eventually made my way to smaller and smaller companies where we were leveraging the channel as a force multiplier, because we didn’t have a thousand direct sales people like we did back in the WorldCom or XO days (where a lot of folks who are in the channel now have been). Coming here to Cato, I really saw the opportunity from a disruptive technology perspective to get it out to the masses. I’ll use that term “force multiplier” again. This was really the only path we could take. When I got here, we were a small startup company, [lacking] presence from a direct sales force perspective. Channel was really the only way to go. Not only for scale, but also because channel has so many relationships embedded in IT decision-making and buying.

CP: How have you built the channel program at Cato?

Being a small company, we’ve been hiring jacks of all trades. What I mean by that is, when I look for sales talent, I look for three things. I look for (No. 1) a great salesperson, somebody who’s a customer advocate looking to provide solutions in the marketplace. The second thing I look for is somebody who knows master agency market, the MSP world, the VAR space — the broader channel in their local region. And the third thing I look for is somebody who’s technical. When we first started building out, we only hired people with solutions engineering backgrounds, which was unique in the space. I don’t think that model had ever been done before.

We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.

I will say that having somebody who’s really a triple threat at the point of attack, both for our partners and our prospects and our customers, was key to …

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