Cisco and Compellent in bullish mood… so is the downturn over?
I’ve just returned from a trip to the US to find a coalition Government in power for the first time in my lifetime, with Nick Clegg and David Cameron exchanging jokes, patting one another on the back and generally expressing bullish optimism for the future.
There must be something in the air, because there was much the same feeling of bullish optimism in two of the conferences I attended stateside, both of which were organised by US vendors for their international partners.
And in both, the vendors were attempting to convey an upbeat, “go-get-‘em” approach to their respective sales channels.
Despite kicking off the Cisco Partner Summit with an apology to partners over the ongoing problems with product delivery times (while concurrently directing the blame on Chinese workers), the networking giant’s VP of worldwide partner organisation, Keith Goodwin, gave a keynote speech peppered with references to making “bold moves” and “rewriting the rules” and “owning the game”.
He was clearly setting out to reassure the assembled partners that Cisco was super-confident about making its much-publicised transition into previously unexplored arenas, such as the datacentre – going so far as to compare any doubters to those fools who doubted its move into the voice space in the late 90s.
At the other end of the scale, storage vendor Compellent is a new kid on the block in comparison to a company the size of Cisco. However, it makes a lot of noise for a youngster.
The firm describes its sales approach as “positive-aggressive” (as opposed to positively aggressive), and nothing demonstrated this more than when its VP for sales (and ex-fighter pilot) Brian Bell, raced into the keynote presentation wearing combat gear, goggles and firing a paint gun at a SAN unit. The US partners loved it.
But this wasn’t just a skin-deep theme of “re-writing the rules”; following tough times for both vendors and VARs, there was a need to purvey a feeling of optimism moving forward. It was an opportunity to slap the assembled partners on the back and say “we’re coming out the other side of the recession and everything will be OK”. And this isn’t a bad thing. With some vendors publicly giving their partners the cold shoulder during the economic crises, the channel needs to know it’s still loved. And it appears, at least here, it is.
UPDATE: Compellent have very kindly sent us this photo of Brian preparing for combat. That’s how to get an audience’s attention!