By Allison Francis
There is a key ingredient to success and being a progressive business leader that perhaps sounds overly simple, but you bet your bottom dollar it’s necessary. Vital, even. That is constantly learning about what’s working and what’s not when it comes to one’s business.
When it comes to evolving partner programs and products to match the rapidly changing tides in the industry, Tina Gravel, senior vice president of channels and alliances for Cyxtera Technologies, is at the helm, leading the charge forward.
It’s this approach that has placed Gravel in our Top Gun 51, a collection of top channel executives who build and execute partner programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success. We interviewed Gravel about her career and her change-embracing accomplishments at Cyxtera — and have edited the transcript for length and clarity.
Channel Partners: What attributes do you think next-gen channel leaders must have?
Tina Gravel: I have heard Channel executives referred to as psychotherapists or marriage counselors, sales executives, marketing folks [and so on]. The job requires many different hats, but I think one of the most important is direct sales experience. How can you can lead folks to sell for you if you do not intimately understand how to do it yourself?
CP: What’s different about the Cyxtera partner program, and how does it reflect what’s currently going on in the industry?
TG: Our program continues to evolve. Cyxtera is only two-and-a-half years old as a company and we are constantly learning about what’s working and what’s not working. My stance is always, how can we innovate? The industry is rapidly evolving and our programs must do that as well. Cyxtera is leading with innovation in our products now and we must have a program that reflects that.
CP: If you had to sum up the current channel ecosystem in a few sentences, what would you say?
|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.|
TG: At the risk of being controversial (yes, I was at Channel Partners [Evolution] and heard about this session), I think the resellers (formerly VARs) are morphing into MSPs. The master agents appear to be morphing into traditional distribution companies with services.
CP: What’s the one thing that’s commonly misunderstood about the channel?
TG: I myself used to think the channel was populated by “lesser sales creatures” (joking). I now know that the channel job can actually be much harder because you are constantly trying to manage folks outside of your company and trying to help close deals in which you are three to four persons removed from.
CP: If you could give one piece of advice to partners, what would it be?
TG: Keep an open mind about your business. Embrace change as it is happening whether you like it or not. Try new things; what have you really got to lose?
CP: What do you think Cyxtera and other vendors should be doing that maybe you aren’t delivering as well as you should?
TG: One thing we are doing well is what I call “dancing with the one who brought you to the dance.” That’s an old “Texasism” that means when you receive a lead from a channel partner, you must endeavor to buy as much as you can from that partner to support the sale, whether that be services, bandwidth, equipment, or even data-center pieces and parts. I am so lucky that Cyxtera’s purchasing departments are completely on board when I ask them to implement these things.
CP: Any other thoughts on this award?
TG: I am full of gratitude for having been named a Top Gun 51 [honoree] and I want everyone to know that I could not have done anything without the great supportive team that I enjoy working with — my Cyxtera family.