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Juniper partners conference: Company talks up growth potential, differentiation

Lynn Haber

Juniper Networks Inc. yesterday opened the general session of its 2014 Global Partner Conference, being held Jan. 14-16 at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, with both Juniper partners and salespeople and together in the same room for the first time. Citing the need for a singular purpose for its direct sales team and indirect partners, Vince Molinaro, executive vice president of worldwide sales at Juniper, kicked off the 2014 Global Partner Conference general session and referred to the all the salespeople in the room as "one team."

Over the course of more than three hours, Juniper paraded across the stage company executives such as CEO Shaygan Kheradpir, in his position for a mere two weeks; Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Senior Vice President Brad Brooks; recently appointed worldwide channel chief David Helfer; Luanne Tierney, vice president of global partner marketing; and on the technical side talking about Juniper's product portfolio, Rami Rahim, executive vice president for the platform systems division, to name a handful.

Guest speaker Tiffani Bova, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Research, was also on hand to share some insights about IT sales, a prelude to a breakout session scheduled for a later time.

Molinaro got the conference ball rolling by reaffirming Juniper's "deliberate dependence on its partners" with a vow to "install that into the sales culture of the company every day" to the audience of 1,000 partners in

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the room and another 1,000 virtual attendees from 83 countries.

Molinaro noted that the conference theme -- "RevUp" -- describes what Juniper wants to accomplish for partners this year: to accelerate partner revenue through a partner's relationship with Juniper. Toward that end, the focus of this year's conference is to show how partners can unlock growth potential and deliver differentiated solutions.

Some highlights from the session included presentations by Helfer and Tierney.

Helfer drew attention to four service-related resources: single-opportunity registration, Juniper Partner Advantage Services (JPAS), customer financing services, and collaboration and Microsoft Lync.

With single-opportunity registration, which at Juniper is embedded in Salesforce.com, the company is investing in the partner that brought the deal, Helfer said.

Launched in August 2013, JPAS are designed to differentiate partner brand, deliver on partner enablement and offer rewards for value and performance. "Juniper wants to focus its time and effort on the professional services of our partners," said Helfer, to help build its partners' professional services in 2014.

To do that, Juniper plans first to identify the right partners, then help with the right assessment packages and, finally, market partners' professional services to the company's sales teams and to customers.

Juniper has also been working to step up its customer finance resources, including building a Web-based interface that partners and customers can use. Helfer announced today that the company will consider financing on opportunities from $20,000 up to millions of dollars. "If Juniper is 20 percent of the opportunity, we will finance 100 percent of the entire deal structure: servers, storage, our partners' services, our partners' professional services," he said.

Finally, Juniper wants partners to talk to their customers about collaboration and a totally financed Lync deployment, including the Microsoft Lync software and licensing, Helfer said.

"That changes the dialog with the customer, from not talking just about the box but to solving the problem or implementation they may have and need," he said.

Tierney, for her part, suggested two strategies to partners that address a powerful marketing dynamic -- namely, that the customer is in control. The two strategies are for partners to differentiate themselves and to create a personalized customer experience.

Rather than delivering generic messages -- or marketing and selling in the way partners are accustomed to -- Tierney said that marketing efforts have to make partners stand out so customers will pick them.

A key strategy, she said, is the use of video. According to the Juniper executive, 75% of Fortune 500 companies put video on their websites. "It's an attention catcher, and it can help showcase your brand," she said, and added that Juniper is making it easier for partners to take advantage of the video trend, by creating videos, webinars and other material that partners can brand as their own. The marketing material is available on the Juniper Marketing Concierge, a free service that provides Juniper partners with pre-loaded marketing materials.

To help partners speak in the language of the customer and to communicate to both technical and business buyers, Juniper is providing resources, such as the Go With Juniper pitch, a presentation that will be available in February on Juniper Marketing Concierge.

To create a personalized experience for buyers, Tierney said partners need to capture valuable data, such as customer buying preferences and habits, some of which can be gleaned from a partner's website traffic, and then respond quickly with personalized messaging and conversations.

"Customers expect the same interaction from you that they've come to expect in the consumer world," she said.

Juniper has a social media center to help with provide personalized content, as well as articles, white papers, videos, etc.

"We're stepping up our efforts to do everything that we can to help you drive a rich customer experience," Tierney said.

Finally, Tierney noted that Juniper is taking steps to help partners get to the next level with their marketing and digital media efforts. For example, the vendor is offering marketing assessments by a dedicated marketing manager to build out personalized marketing plans, and a lead generation campaign using digital techniques.


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