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I’m delighted to welcome a thought leader, sales strategist, growth adviser and change agent to Ultimate Guide to Partnering, Tiffani Bova.
Tiffani is the Global, Customer Growth, Sales and Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce. Her focus is to help drive customer success within their vast customer and partner ecosystem, helping companies re-imagine how they can not only grow bigger but grow better with innovative business models and technology.
Bova has earned accolades from the best leaders in the technology world like HP, IBM, Amazon, Oracle, SAP, Oracle, Cisco, and Microsoft. They praise her for cutting-edge analysis and her skill at inventing bold strategies for growth. “Tiffani is one of the most knowledgeable analysts in the industry when it comes to understanding channel, customer and tech trends.” “She’s the only one who speaks to the real world we all live in – recognizing our need to preserve the existing revenue stream while simultaneously developing a whole new approach.” “Her ability to see clearly several steps ahead and uncover practical solutions to shortcomings and challenges is a true asset.”
Prior to working with Salesforce she was a VP, Distinguished Analyst and Research Fellow at Gartner. Bova has also lived in the fast lane of high tech, leading sales organizations, driving growth and creating durable competitive advantages at Sprint, Inacom, Interland (web.com) and Gateway Computers. She learned how to lead sales and marketing teams in hotly competitive markets. She created some of the first cloud based channel programs and completely reinvented “go-to-market” tactics in several hardware and services businesses. And she developed her unique ability to connect with executives and employees at every level.
Tiffany and I have an extensive and rich conversation. In this episode you will learn:
- Why she decided to host her own podcast “What’s Next” to share the conversations with thought leaders on business transformation. Listen here: http://whatsnextpodcast.libsyn.com/website.
- Partner transformation and the pace of change that she has observed over a span of several years. And that speed of business is the new currency.
- Disruption of existing models and why monetization is really tough for smaller organizations.
- Why it’s hard for both the vendor and partner to shift.
- What is the right pace of change for IT channel partners.
- Trends she sees in the marketplace.
- Advice she gives organizations looking to transformation.
- Why “Customer Experience is the new battleground”.
- When a business coach or advisor can help your small business through transformation.
- Her mentors, career advice, lessons learned and other nuggets from her career journey.
You can listen to the podcast and read the transcript of this episode below.
As with each of my interview and articles, I appreciate your feedback. You can reach me on Linked In or on email at email@example.com. You can also review this podcast by going to iTunes and searching “Ultimate Guide to Partnering” and clicking on the album art and hitting the ratings link. This helps others find the podcast.
I hope you enjoy this episode!
I’m really excited to have you as a guest on The Ultimate Guide to partnering you and I had the opportunity to interact when you were a gardener and supporting Microsoft at a pivotal time in the business. And I’m a big fan of yours and excited to have you here today so welcome.
Tiffani Bova: 01:23 Oh I’m so glad to be here Vantz and I’m so glad to have conversation about you know something I’m passionate about which is channels and partnering.
Vince Menzione: 01:30 So terrific to have you as well. And ad sales force you have a very interesting title now customer growth and innovation evangelists. I think that’s a really cool title by the way. Can you tell our listeners a little bit more about how you see your mission now with sales force and in the industry.
Tiffani Bova: 01:48 Yeah I’d say this I’d say I’m not sure it’s shifted very much right time. I’m still get the wonderful pleasure to spend a lot of time a majority of my time with customers trying to help them pivot their business and be more oriented around some of the things technology can do for us with things like customer experience customer success really improving performance using all the digital tools and how to grow their businesses so you know while I think everyone has known me in this particular you know probably listener base around my work on channels and programs and sort of go to market through with partners I’d say I still do that but now I’m looking at kind of growth in sales all up. You know any way that a company is really trying to reach and engage with customers and so that’s why the title is sort of growth and for wind. Because I think growth comes in multiple ways. And then innovation is really all of these disruptive technologies and business models of mental models that are out in the market today are really inspiring people to re-imagine the way that they have gone to market
Vince Menzione: 02:55 and you now host the podcast yourself. What’s next. And you’ve had some amazing guests on the podcast. I thought we might take our listeners through why you decided to take this on in addition to your work that sales work.
Tiffani Bova: 03:09 I’m just going to laugh because it’s just like I just didn’t have anything else to do so I do a podcast which you know is not really the truth. I really have been blessed and fortunate over the last 10 or 15 years to have an opportunity to make really inspiring and interesting people that are driving change in all kinds of industries.
Tiffani Bova: 03:32 And I and I get these moments in time where I have a chance to have a conversation with them whether it’s you know we’re both getting on and off stage we’re sitting in a green room I’m on an airplane you know wherever it might be. And selfishly as I’m having this I’m like hot it would have been great if so-and-so could have heard this conversation I was just having a discussion like this with somebody the other day and I how can I have you know transported this conversation there and I said the best way for me to do that is a podcast. So I reached out to my network of people that I’ve met over time and I was really fortunate that everybody said yes. And so it’s it’s really been this opportunity for me to have a conversation with a friend other over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and have my other friends listen in.
Vince Menzione: 04:20 Now it’s really terrific. Like I said you’ve had some amazing guests. I’m a very avid listener myself. So take me a little bit through you know you and I both focus in on transformation right. We come at it from maybe different angles a little bit but I’ve been focused on the podcast on business transformation as it impacts the partner techno and technology giants and how they engage in their ecosystem so I’m eager to have more of a discussion today with you about transformation. So I recall a conversation that you had with our partner organization about the need to transform the business and for partners to break out of their existing business models and monetization models. That was a few years ago and fast forward now and I’m seeing this transformation happening more quickly this year than in past years. Are you seeing the same pace of change.
Tiffani Bova: 05:10 Yeah I think that when you peel those statements back that I made many years ago because of where I was working at the time obviously I was at Gartner I had this you know another thousand analysts behind me that were watching you know these big macro trends that were happening. So I spent a lot of time consuming that content and then saying OK I’m going to sort of transcribe it back out and say what would the impact be to somebody who was a you know small value added reseller assistance integrator or a developer you know or an Esai you know or just a consulting partner. And what would be the impact to them if any of this in any degree came true or whether it was the shift to cloud. I remember having many conversations with people going you know there’s just no way.
Tiffani Bova: 06:00 And and when I say cloud and having those conversations I started having managed hosting conversations. In 1999 I was already working for a web hosting company. Back then all the way to 2002 I was the head of sales and marketing and customer service for the largest Microsoft web hoster in the world and the first shared web hosting company that helped Microsoft put together their entire hosting program because we were breaking up laws against licensing and all kinds of things happinesses 2001 into it. So I’ve been having this conversation for some time. And when I got to see as things were moving people would say I don’t think it’s going to happen at that pace and I would say back when we can agree it’s not negative growth in cloud and we can agree it’s not zero. So whatever number makes you feel comfortable if 5 percent 10 percent whatever percent of your business you think customers are now going to shift to these other delivery models.
Tiffani Bova: 06:58 What are you going to do in response. And so it was more of just sharing that this was coming down the pike and this is what customers were actually asking for and what CEOs were saying they needed in the business which meant for many mid-market and small businesses they rely on partners they had to come along for the ride. Now as you mentioned this kind of speed and acceleration is no joke. I mean you know the other day I was reading something that that Diane Green was mentioning you know how quickly you know adoption and the pace of innovation is is coming out of her organization. And then you have simultaneously Amazon announced that they’re going to start charging per second per second.
Vince Menzione: 07:45 I know it’s amazing. It’s amazing right so when you say speed it’s like how do you even keep pace right. These
Tiffani Bova: 07:51 partners are having to learn new technology learn new billing models learn new you know coding and all kinds of things are coming at them and it’s really difficult to navigate. And so I think that the speed of business is the new currency and for partners to be able to help their customers keep pace. I believe actually means that partners working with partners. Finally that conversation of P2P collaboration may actually show itself as being a way for our partners to deliver value going forward.
Vince Menzione: 08:25 In the monetisation models it seems to be the area where they most struggle right. I mean I’m having conversations with partners and in interviews that I have and just the conversations in general and some of them are still struggling with that monetization model what do you think there?
Tiffani Bova: 08:41 This goes back to really thinking about so if you think about the technology disruption that’s happened and you have a business model disruption and then third if you know if you’re listening to my podcast mark on check brought up the whole sort of mental model disruption. That’s a lot of movement. And for some of these partners you know the average partner has a couple of million dollars a year. True globally. You know there are five hundred clips about let’s just call it 18 million 16 million.
Speaker 6: 09:09 That means now some hundred thousand partners if not more in the U.S. are smaller than that and the average being in a couple of a million. So how do I transform myself in all three of those veins. And if you pick monetisation the most difficult part of that is that it’s the financial model that pays the bills for them to keep doing what they’re doing and make investments in some of these new things.
Tiffani Bova: 09:30 So if you can’t get access to cash in it which is really hard for small businesses just not even in tech you know and you have issues with small businesses paying you on time. As a small business you don’t have that cash flow guarantee. And then in cloud in many ways distribution isn’t in the middle of that to help you get credit and financing. It’s really tough.
Vince Menzione: 09:52 That’s true. And then think about the distribution model and how they they fund those partnerships. So
Tiffani Bova: 09:56 I mean a huge part of it. Right. And so it’s hard for them to say like how am I going to get access to cash or capital to make investments in hiring a new kind of engineer or a software developer or Unix developer or code or how am I going to get you know the the funds to pay for reference architects and dev ops and how am I going to get in a sort of business consultants.
Tiffani Bova: 10:19 Those are big expensive ticket items that if you listen to anybody’s research they’re all saying that the skills gap is holding people back from innovation and the channel is trying to fill that in if they don’t have the working capital to get that done.
Vince Menzione: 10:33 And so do you think the partners are changing fast enough.
Tiffani Bova: 10:37 Listen. That’s a that’s a tricky question I would answer it this way. I want the partners to be able to stay slightly ahead of whoever their customers are because you may have in some sectors and industries where change is not happening as fast for regulations or region or or just whatever category it’s in.
Tiffani Bova: 10:55 And so you know if you’re selling Cisco routers you’re still selling Cisco routers you’re implementing and deploying and doing break fix and during remote monitoring and management etc.. Right. I mean and if you’re selling printers same thing and I mean so there are points of time where yes it that that particular the infrastructure layer is evolving around software and pushing some to cloud of course obviously but you still have a business. And so I only want partners to be much more focused and kind of pick what they are going to double down on from a business perspective. And then secondarily say who are my customers and what are they looking for for me and I just need to stay slightly ahead of what they are asking. I dont need to get you know way out in front ears out and need to anticipate where theyre going to go and thats different per partner so to ask and I know you’re just making it the general question right but to blanket say do I think they’re moving fast enough I’d say in some categories.
Tiffani Bova: 11:52 Absolutely not. In some categories I think they’re working at the right pace. In other categories I think that there’s lots of room for improvement. And so it really just depends. And then that answers you know by region depending on on you know who’s listening by region that matters as well. And then by size company and industry and vertical.
Vince Menzione: 12:11 So is there a category of partners that you think are laggard at this point I think. Question
Tiffani Bova: 12:17 . Yeah I do I think that those that are you know listen when when the conversation started coming up a couple of years ago that listen it’s all about recurring revenue right. Partners need to build some predictive build predictability into their business. I would always sort of come back and say will correct me if I’m wrong but the break fix business has been around for ever and it’s always been recurring so recurring is nothing new it’s now it’s recurring on you know cloud based services or as a service services infrastructure as a service spot for his service software as a service etc. but recurring revenue has always been in place and so partners have been pivoting towards the managed services model long before they started to embrace cloud. So the percentage of business they have that’s project based versus at the first of the year every year they don’t start from zero again and have to rebuild a three four five 10 million dollar business right that some portion of that revenue is going to guarantee come in based on contracts the amount of or the percentage of that should consistently be going up because it drives a lot more predictability in the business number one as Ive said. But number two it gives you a much drugger cash flow and three you know if youve got a strong cash flow like that you have a much better shot at going out and getting capital to invest further and doubling down on the business.
Tiffani Bova: 13:36 So theres a lot of health so I’d say those that haven’t moved. It’s when the split of project based work and predictable recurring revenue sort of cash coming in has to keep pace.
Tiffani Bova: 13:52 Right so if you’re 30 percent or 40 percent in recurring revenue and 60 in project and you continue to get bigger you always should try to maintain that 60:40 if that’s what you want or you’re making a full push to say I want to be 17:30 70 percent is recurring and much more predictable and 30 is a very specific project work that feeds that recurring revenue business.
Vince Menzione: 14:12 That’s a good insight. What about trends what are you seeing now. We weren’t seeing in the past. Are you seeing from emerging technology trends.
Tiffani Bova: 14:23 Yeah I would say that software development app development kind of the aggregation of multiple services has been something that I’ve been talking about for some time but I think finally people are realizing why I started talking about it as early as I did was because it’s rarely a single provider solution which means from a channel perspective you either need to partner with other partners to bring in all those capabilities or you need to have it in-house which tends to be reserved for the fairly large partners.
Tiffani Bova: 15:01 But streaming that kind of all those pearls together in a beautiful Nachlass is difficult. And so that software development side and the software side I think is a real opportunity for partners. But more importantly it tends to be much more about how can they find ways to do it without potentially having to hire the staff themselves.
Vince Menzione: 15:27 It’s interesting and you know the whole partner to partner piece is very interesting during this transformation as far as what I’m saying too. It’s also a scale issue.
Vince Menzione: 15:35 There’s a lot of point solutions that I’m seeing that are very small but nimble companies but they don’t have the scale of a channel and they’re looking for other organizations that help them they’re using that as well.
Tiffani Bova: 15:47 Yeah I am. And I think even when you look into the sales force ecosystem of partners the app exchange probably being one of the best in the industry and has been just because it’s had such a big head start. And if you were listening to Marc Benioff mastermind at at Gartner Symposium you would hear sort of you know the conversations between Mark and Steve Jobs about the power of this app Exchange and the whole ecosystem and partners and where it was sort of going and so we were a little early but I would say that when you look into that ecosystem overall you see a lot of partnering going on amongst the partners because they kind of play like we are going to be the partner in this particular industry for this particular need of a business. And we don’t have the capability on the other side.
Tiffani Bova: 16:38 So who is the partner that I need to go get to. And how do I create API to make sure our service integrates really seamlessly with that service because our customers want that integrated solution to be easy. So they’re thinking in advance of what that expectation is going to need. And so the partners that I see growing exponentially and quickly are ones that embrace collaboration and even some slight competition. You can argue in the app exchange there’s partners that do similar things to what sales force does in our own portfolio. But they’re like look you want to make sure I integrate with sales force right at the end of the day it’s customer choice. But I’m not going to take myself out of the game because I feel like I compete with sales force in that way because you know it’s a 10 billion dollar conversation versus a million dollar conversation.
Vince Menzione: 17:33 I’m speaking at a conference on eyeteeth to try to professionals in a couple of weeks. And I’ve been thinking about this presentation because a lot of the folks that I’ll be presenting to are sort of had that deer in the headlights look in terms of facing the transformation of what to do with their agencies their government agencies. Do you have any advice to share with this audience who could be there with me who you know.
Tiffani Bova: 17:59 Well so you have a couple of choices right you could go in there and put the fear of everything into them right and and try to use fear as the as the light to get them to move forward. It can be one that’s an inspiration right. The story can be inspiring like almost like Braille when I just gave there so many of those that are just like that you know. You know and so do you inspire them to think differently or do you you know lean into a story of somebody who is just like them facing similar issues and similar regulations and what they did in order to overcome the you know the inertia that gets stuck into businesses that been around for so long that they get trapped in their own way of thinking.
Tiffani Bova: 18:38 You know there’s no diversity of ideas and they just keep coming up with the same stuff on a different day. It all depends sort of what what you know what story arc you want to give given what you want them to get out of it. But you know I think scaring people into you know what I fall into quite as effective maybe as easy because there’s just so much information out there where they can consume that.
Tiffani Bova: 19:03 Now how do you sort of cut through the noise and give them some some really actionable ideas that can walk out and do something different on Monday morning.
Vince Menzione: 19:11 Yeah it’s just a matter of how you get them to mobilize and get them to move. Right. You said there’s ways to motivate them I guess is what I’m hearing and I think back to some of the conversations you had with the partner ecosystem at that early stage in transformation right in trying to get them excited about the change and how they needed to mobilize their businesses.
Tiffani Bova: 19:29 Yeah I focused on the customer. I always focused on the customer. Look I can stand up here and tell you what I’m going to tell you but I’d rather tell you from from the mouth of a customer. Here’s what they’re looking for right. They’re looking for ways in which they can engage with their customers better. I’m just going to pick that one right. You know the customers saying look I want to be able to be in multiple channels and deliver a similar result in a similar experience if you will. Regardless of whether they want to connect with me via ass Facebook Messenger or chat e-mail or telephone. That’s what I’m trying to do because I’ve noticed now that my call times it’s not just about 24/7 over the phone it’s about all these other things. That’s what they’re saying. And so the partner has to turn around and go.
Tiffani Bova: 20:12 How do I deliver this. Instead of me standing up there and going. The trends are that omnichannel is going to overpower. Right. And I I come from the customer side and say Sixty five percent of customers are saying that if they’re in five or more channels and then the person in the audience because of my God rurally into you know and then they may come back and go Well I’m we’re unique which is the normal right we’re unique we’re in an industry that and I’m like I’m sure you are. Everybody thinks they’re unique in some industries you will be. But let’s just say OK let’s just say it’s not five. Let’s say it’s three or only in two. So what are you going to do to get to that third. Right. So I don’t need you to go all the way to five but I do need to tell you that too.
Tiffani Bova: 20:55 Like phone and e-mail. Not enough. And I don’t even care if you’re a government agency. Like it’s just not enough. Especially as you know the millennials and more and people who are are getting more and more comfortable with technology want to engage with brands in multiple channels.
Vince Menzione: 21:13 Those ones who say that they’re unique those are the ones who get disrupted. Right. I mean that’s the ones that you know disrupt or be disrupted. And that’s it reminds me of now.
Tiffani Bova: 21:22 Absolutely. And or they’re just so late that they have to catch up. And unless you know 52 percent of S&P 500 companies have have disappeared in the last like 60 years and the lifespan has gone down from you know 60 year lifespan to 17 years and that they know and that happens because people are complacent and don’t think that they’re going to get disrupted and then they if they do get start to get disrupted they actually focus in on the wrong things. They try to fight it without actually saying OK wait a minute why is this happening. Like if I pick you know the black cabs and uber in London it’s you know let me fight them with regulations versus saying hold on a second. Why are people choosing uber over blackcaps Yeah because maybe they don’t know how to get around the city as well as we do so that’s not important to them like what is it.
Vince Menzione: 22:21 And ultimately comes down to things like cost convenience right.
Tiffani Bova: 22:26 That really. Yeah. It comes down to experience you know more often than not now the experience is actually the product and that makes people who are very comfortable with product very uncomfortable.
Vince Menzione: 22:37 So what excites you most about the future and what keeps you up at night.
Tiffani Bova: 22:42 Yeah I’d say I’m really passionate about this whole talk track of customer experience being the new battleground and experience being the new product it has so many legs to it around. You know CRM systems and you know digital marketing and social listening and journey mapping and then from a strategic standpoint making sure that companies are pivoting towards the customer and not a product let the customer lead you know and really changing maybe even an entire culture and DNA of a company is super difficult.
Tiffani Bova: 23:19 But that’s what is super exciting to me is where you see people really uncomfortable with the conversation. You know that you’re getting through to them in a way that they don’t feel comfortable and confident about what to do next. And so then they get much more open to saying I don’t know how to navigate it. And then you start to have these really rich super fascinating conversations about the options and the ways in which they could potentially navigate this disruption and it’s really inspiring number one but number two for me it’s like every day I learn something new and I hear someone try something different that I maybe hadn’t heard before. And I get to follow up on how it worked or didn’t work. And more importantly how the technology underlying it. Obviously more times than not it’s sales force you know how we’re powering those transformations is just super exciting. So
Vince Menzione: 24:18 I know you’ve described yourself as a recovering seller and I’m going to ask you a little bit about your career journey and a little in a while here but you also have a lot of experience with the channels and teams and what you believe makes her what characteristics do you believe make a great partner. Yeah
Tiffani Bova: 24:35 I call myself a recovering suller because I always pivot back to companies make stuff companies sell stuff.
Tiffani Bova: 24:46 And you can make the best stuff but if you can’t sell it it’s really difficult and in many ways it almost doesn’t matter. So I think everybody has a role to use Dan Pink’s term right to sell is human. Everybody has a role in the company to quote unquote sell. You may not have a sales person on your business card but every decision you make has an impact in the way the company transacts with its customers so that’s why I think sales is is at the center and I don’t mean always has to be and runs the I don’t mean that I mean but if you’re in a you know profit oriented business you have to sell stuff. For partners that are a little bit more product led. I think this is where they’ve had a real challenge in making this switch because they were always like OK what’s the product I can sell to solve the problem.
Tiffani Bova: 25:37 And in the last you know 18 or 20 months that I’ve been here I’ve really realized for me the truth lies that this is not necessarily a technology problem it’s a people process problem and that’s much more difficult to change salespeople today if your selling technology in any way I believe you’re not selling technology you’re selling change and change is hard. It’s hard in our personal lives and it’s really hard if you’re selling it into a business that has you know multiple agendas and different personalities and different silo groups and minds business and all kinds of things going on. It’s really hard to sell change. So I think for partners if they can start to realize that they have to think about technology as the vehicle by which they’re delivering sometimes massive change into an organization and change management becomes even more critical.
Vince Menzione: 26:36 Yeah I believe that’s true as well. I think if you think about some of the great partnerships that I think of it’s it’s always about aligning to a set of principles and sort of a shared vision that you’re selling to the customer. It might be in partnership with that technology giant that you’re working with right.
Tiffani Bova: 26:53 Yes absolutely. Absolutely. But even if you think about a manufacturer vendor trying to go into a large ecosystem that has predominantly sold on premise in a resale model and then turns around and says Oh no no it’s not going to be hardware anymore Zacari product anymore it’s going to be a cloud based service and it’s going to be recurring revenue. So you’re not going to be selling millions of dollars in maybe selling tens of thousands of dollars in it. You know the industry is littered with with vendors that have been working for years in trying to get their ecosystem to pivot and that was all about change. The technology was there. Right now it’s a search for services there and platform as a service is their software as a services there. So if you have an established ecosystem that was not used to that it’s been it’s been a good five six seven years of Cushing.
Tiffani Bova: 27:43 I’m trying to get you guys to change different for a company like sales force that started in the cloud and the ecosystem isn’t changing it’s it’s the ecosystem has to keep pace with all the things we doing with our multiple clouds now not just sales cloud. And so that’s about investing in more things than just you know the CRM side of it and that change is still change. And so you know going in and messaging and what’s the power the value of now selling marketing cloud are now selling service cloud are now selling community cloud whatever it might be like why do you want to do that. Like trying to get you to embrace the fact that we have more things for you to do. So changes change. But I think vendors if they’re using partners third parties to either resell impalement train you know do distribution whatever it might be in the supply chain.
Tiffani Bova: 28:35 It’s still having to convince them to want to come on this journey with them and make the investments to not only change technically but change they’re going back to your question right. The business model the monetization model the revenue model all of that has to change and it’s it’s tough so asking the question.
Vince Menzione: 28:55 Conversely the partnerships that failed Are those the ones that don’t buy into being a change agent to being a transformer if you will of the business?
Tiffani Bova: 29:06 You can fail for a lot of reasons, but that’s one for sure. I mean I think that at the end of the day you know S.R. and it magazine did some great work around it. You’ve got kind of those lifestyle partners that are really happy with the business that they’ve built and they’re like look I’m I’m very content and I’m not I just don’t have enough. You know gas in my tank to go down. I’m going to transform it completely redo my company and come out the other side looking totally different. Then you have some there are like you know I’m I’m willing to transform but I’m going to transform very specific and very strategically. And then you have others that are like yes I am all in and I’m going to flip the model and go totally to manage services and resell nothing and go totally to a cloud. Maybe I’ll start it in a completely different division so that I can slowly you know pull back on the on the resale side of the business and pivot more towards consulting I mean so it all depends on how a company wants to grow and if they’ve said I’m now going to pick one of those and that’s how I’m going to get it grow and it doesn’t work out and they fail.
Tiffani Bova: 30:13 You know it could be all kinds of reasons but I feel like some of the failure happens because they don’t make any decision. They just sit on the sidelines and go. I think I can continue doing what I’m doing and then slowly over time it gets more difficult and more difficult more difficult to put you know. Revenue on the top line and hanging on to customers on the bottom line.
Vince Menzione: 30:36 So they’re hanging onto the past basically ?
Tiffani Bova: 30:40 Hanging onto the past and some have you know some are able to continue to do it and why I go back to my earlier comment because their customers are comfortable in the existing model as well. Right. If the existing customers are like I just wanted on premise and I don’t want anything in the cloud and I want business to stay exactly as it is and you’re a partner who’s very happy staying and doing exactly what you’re doing. Right on.
Tiffani Bova: 31:02 It’s only if you’re like I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and your customers are saying I want to change and you’re trying to get your customers not to change. They’re either going to change with someone else or they’re going to you know force you to make that that shift.
Vince Menzione: 31:17 Right and if you’re not the company that they perceive as being capable of helping them make that shift they’re going to go someplace else. Yes.
Vince Menzione: 31:24 They will go someplace else. So what about common myths. You know you’ve worked with many organizations who are many big companies out there. Are there common myths that you see that organizations have about the whole concept of partnering
Tiffani Bova: 31:38 I’d say the biggest challenge is you know if you’ve got a vendor who as historically motivated and rewarded their ecosystem for resale it’s difficult to get them to shift away from that spigot of MTF and co-op dollars and the distribution and all that kind of programmatic value if you will and get them to make investments that may have no component of resale in it. So the dynamic between the relationship actually changes you know now it’s not about that margin in a product it’s about revenue on the professional services side that maybe the vendor has no skin in the game right. It’s just opening opportunity for a partner to come in and add value on top of the transformation that the customer is doing using the technology that may be made from them from the from the vendor that that otherwise wouldn’t be deployed.
Tiffani Bova: 32:36 So I mean you can use sales force as an example. Your partners are not reselling the technology but they’re coming in and around it and consulting on what does the change management. What is it going to look like. You know how do we integrate it into the environment. What API needs to be done. You know let’s architect what a sales transformation actually looks like and the technology underneath that is powering it. They may do some things to the technology itself but the professional services revenue and their own services is where they’re making the money.
Vince Menzione: 33:04 And some of that’s a discovery process for these partners right. Like all of a sudden the the transactional revenue has gone away and now I need to find another place to recoup the revenue.
Tiffani Bova: 33:15 Exactly. Exactly. And and it gets difficult for them to wean themselves from the resale spigot. You know while at the same time they’re going after the new revenue because they’re not comfortable or confident in the fact that the they’ll be able to ramp the new revenue as fast as they need to as the old revenue is declining. So you have to make a conscious effort. And I had this conversation with a partner a number of years ago and he was an agent for a large telco and making up the numbers. But let’s say he was I think he was around 40 million in revenue. So a nice sized partner and he had heard me speak a couple of years before and then it been like three or four years. And so we ended up sitting next to each other for lunch he said I’m so glad I got to sit next to you because I wanted to tell you the story that you know we heard what you said and we really started to pivot ourselves away from the old revenue model that we had been so wedded to for so long we started to pivot more towards recurring revenue and managed services and we developed our own tools and applications that made a stickier with our customer etc. and we actually let our They were not publicly traded.
Tiffani Bova: 34:27 By the way. And we let our revenue decline our top line declined almost in half while we ramped up the other side of the business and now we’re probably a little larger than half the size that we used to be. But we’re like 3x on the profitability right. We have a much richer and tighter in relationships with our customers. And it’s interesting how few partners I’ve met along my way is right along my journeys that I’ve been willing to do what I just described and I’m talking about private.
Tiffani Bova: 34:59 Right. So it’s not the street saying oh no way you can’t cut your revenue in half. This is their own. I need to be a$40 billion company or I need to be a 20 or$5 billion company because I need to maintain my level and the Channel program or whatever it might be. But holding on to how large you are from a top line perspective may actually be holding you back from that profitability lever that you’re unable to pull.
Vince Menzione: 35:23 That’s really interesting because I think about that only with public companies right now I can think of some public companies that we know that have gone private and are able to do some things and maneuver differently because they’re privately held but that’s interesting you mentioned that about private companies.
Tiffani Bova: 35:36 Yeah. Or you look at you know a very public one in IBM that’s in the middle of a transformation and public and you know 21 quarters of declining revenue. Right. But it’s a huge shift. I mean what sell off you know$20 billion worth of our asset. I mean and I mean it’s bad it looks nothing like it looked 20 quarters ago. And but you had to kind of be that size and or you go the Dell model and you pull it private. But you know at the end of the day I think that it all comes down to you know some people start a business and in our industry in our world trade and they’re very they love technology they’re technologists at heart and they want to go do cool stuff with technology. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are able to then navigate the business through some of this stuff.
Tiffani Bova: 36:26 So you know I would say if you’re listening to this podcast and you’re saying Yep I hear it and I don’t know what to do is to get a business coach or to get an advisor to come in and focuses on small businesses and really helps you understand what are the things that you could do to move yourself along this journey but you need to be able to communicate to them where you’re trying to get to and and really understanding what’s happening in your business today so that you can share it because no one knows your business better than you do. But that’s a that’s a blessing and a curse because you’re so close to it that you may not be able to see the forest through the trees so bring somebody in who’s got the ability to have an open mind in the ways in which you could approach transforming yourself and your business and it might mean bringing somebody in to run the operations side of it.
Tiffani Bova: 37:16 So to help guide you through this this transformation yourself will you continue to focus on the technology side.
Vince Menzione: 37:22 Some really great advice for partners. So hire a business consultant to come in and help them through the transformation
Tiffani Bova: 37:29 Or even just a business coach like a personal business coach. I don’t mean that it has to be you bring in a McKenzie Raider Ayn or a gardener or you know just somebody who can help you dissect parts of the business that you’ve grown up learning on the job and they’ve got experience that you don’t have. And what can they help you navigate. And it’s all about you know you don’t know what you don’t know. And I think business coaches are a great way to have people expand their horizons and maybe get a different point of view.
Tiffani Bova: 38:03 And also in one of my podcast Naomi Simpson she’s a shark tank shark down in Australia and she has a very successful small business obviously because she’s the shark. She’s like look I’m a great leader and I’m not a great manager so I can set the vision and figure out where I want to take the business and what I’m really trying to accomplish. But sort of the day to day I needed to bring somebody in to run the business because it’s not what I’m strong at. And you know I think that that is a great lesson to learn for knowing what your strengths weaknesses are and if well she doesn’t call them weaknesses. She calls them non strengths. So what are your strengths her strengths are and then doubled down where you’re strong and bring people on board to help you in those strengths you know and also to separate some of the emotion right that some of these entrepreneurs have about their business and their ownership of their vision and strategy.
Tiffani Bova: 39:00 It’s that and it’s the end it’s the emotion tied to how big the company is from a top line revenue perspective. As you share another one yeah.
Vince Menzione: 39:08 Yeah. So any closing advice for partners before we shift gears here on the rapid age of change and what they need to do to embrace the change.
Tiffani Bova: 39:20 I think it’s a moment of reflection. I think that we have Ben as you mentioned a little bit ago this pace of change is not slowing down. You know we’re now talking about Amazon building by the second. And I think Google is doing the same and it’s not going to get any slower.
Tiffani Bova: 39:36 So if you don’t take time for sort of quiet reflection on being really mindful of of where you want to take your business and more importantly you know where you want to take your employees is if you are an owner of a of a channel company or an owner of a small business. You not only have responsibility to the company all up but to each individual employee. Right. You write their paycheck you know you are the leader. You know you’re the captain of the ship and so don’t just let the boats leak knowing that you can’t fill the holes fast enough. And so if you can inspire and motivate the vision of where you’re trying to take the company communicate on a really regular basis bring in people to help you in those non strengths categories you have to make sure that your employees understand their role in the change where you’re trying to take it because if your employees are happy your customers are happy and if your customers are happy they’re going to buy more for you. They’re going to talk about how great you are to them. All of those things if you just focus on what it is you’re selling from just pure technology you’re not connecting with your employees or York. Ultimately your customers in a way that is as meaningful as it might have been just a few short years ago. So I think it really is taking the time you know every day to just pause and reflect on what’s working and what’s not working and how can you start to rally people around your ideas in your vision and then really trying to find that business coach
Vince Menzione: 41:16 Some really great nuggets for our listeners thank you.
Vince Menzione: 41:18 And you know I focus on how people got to this spot in life and I wanted to focus on your personal and professional journey for her listeners. Tiffany, you’ve had an amazing career and I have many of my listeners are early career professionals looking to learn from someone like yourself. Can you take her listeners through your journey?
Tiffani Bova: 41:39 Well I would say this I would say that my 20s were just whatever I can do. You know like I knew I was kind of good at sales and I sort of you know sold all kinds of things. And then in my 30s I had a little more serious sort of found my way to selling technology and I found something I was good at. And I started selling technology early around some of the big macro trends accidentally. By the way right it was just out. No no master plan. And through my thirties I change jobs about every 18 months which was really frowned upon at the time. But I did it because I wanted to challenge myself more and I wanted more responsibility and I wanted to try new things. And I always went back to my employer and sort of offered the opportunity to say hey I’m looking for something different. I’d like to stay here and if they weren’t able to sort of find a place for me I would I would move on and that and then sort of right up my 40s I said I needed to take a break on the merry go round. I was on it. Changing jobs as frequently as it was carrying a quota. It had become a fairly big quota at the time I was running. One of the divisions of Gateway computers when it was still around and so it was it was a good sized quota and I needed a little break from that and so I landed a partner through my 40s and then I got the opportunity. Although I’m only 36 I got the opportunity in my 50s to work at it to work in sales force and I’ve been here you know 18 months or two years. But but I would tell you that for me there is no greater joy now for me than being able to look back and know along the way that I never did it alone and I had a strong network around me of both men and women that would guide me. You know especially on the channel chief’s side you know during that time it was Alison Watson at Microsoft was one of my early mentors Frank particularly from IBM at the time that’s where he was. Allison Salinger was at Symantec and Julie Parrish was at Vera. You know Ross Brown was at V.M. where I think at the time. I mean you know so I had this really strong network. Even Chuck Robbins was running U.S. channels for Cisco and obviously now he’s the CEO and so I was really fortunate to have a strong group of channel chiefs around me that gave me great advice and then I started sort of building that network even beyond the channel chiefs if you will. And they were very pivotal times in my career where I leaned on those those mentors. But I didn’t have it in such a formal mentorship. I mean there’s probably a handful you know Kevin Gilroy from HP at the time and then you know went on to enforce and then went on aero and then went on to SFP and and went on to Samsung and now I think he’s living the luxury of retirement. But you know at the end of the day it was really about having a strong network of those that were willing to just have conversations with me and lead me down some paths. And so I’d say from an advice perspective is your network is your networth and for career advice for making moves for references for learning new things. It is you know the fabric of what makes you up and your professional life and your personal life. But from a professional standpoint you know I am the I am the result of this fabric of all these great amazing relationships that I’ve made along the way the conversations I’ve had the people I’ve met because I would say there were so many times where people believed in me more than I believed in myself and they gave me the opportunity to try something that was definitely a stretch for me and I trusted that they wouldn’t just leave me out there to hang and dry right. I knew that they would give me support through that that learning curve and it made all the difference. So for me I always take the time to thank the people that helped me along the way as I just mentioned a slew of them and that you know and also to give back. You know I think now in my career it’s doing podcasts like this and speaking at events of trying to share and impart some some wisdom of you know battle scars I have and things I’ve learned and obviously there’s still a lot to learn for me.
Tiffani Bova: 46:01 But I feel like I’m at this great point in time where I’ve got a good balance of learning and giving back.
Vince Menzione: 46:07 So is there is a piece of advice that you remember recall at a pivotal time in your career that maybe you could share with our listeners?
Tiffani Bova: 46:15 So I haven’t you know I give quite a bit of keynotes. I probably do 50 or so a year or somewhere around the world. And this one I use this all the time because people just can’t believe this is what he said. But I was getting onstage and he was getting offstage and it was Guy Kawasaki was getting offstage. And I was getting on stage and we have spoken together a number of times and we went to rival high schools we’re both from Hawaii and so we’ve known each other for some time. So he’s getting off I’m getting on he looks over at me and he goes hey Bova don’t suck. And I go. Thanks man. Appreciate that. So I every time now I’m like it’s so funny whenever I’m getting like offstage or onstage and so I was just like you know you know go for have a really great time I go. All I’m trying to do is not suck. Right. And so I hear a guy in the back of my head you know saying that to me so you know I made you laugh right. It was just classic sort of classic guy. And he said it with a smile he wasn’t being like you know mean about it. He was definitely being funny. So that’s one. So you know I always aspire not to suck when I’m getting on stage. And then another one would be that there are things that I am I am better at than than others. And I was trying at one point in my career to try to do lots of things while and it just wasn’t working. And I say that piece of advice that was given to me at that moment is once you identify your strengths that that’s what you need to double down on and it’s not that you don’t need to understand the things that you maybe are not strong on and that’s that sort of you know bring someone in for help or you know surround yourself with people that are smarter than you in other parts of the business. And when I made got that piece of advice and started to make different decisions and who I hired and how I organized my time and how I collaborated and partnered with my own companies that I was working at a my career really took off. It was when I was trying to do everything that I was actually holding myself back. So I would say that those are probably the two pieces of advice guys was much better probably than the second one. But but that’s what I would say.
Vince Menzione: 48:34 So was there one thing you held on and one thing you let go of in terms of those skills. ?
Tiffani Bova: 48:41 I let go of trying to be strong in finance. She was never my strong suit. So you know I took some classes continuing education classes and just learning how to walk my way around a PNL. But I didn’t need to run it. I need you to understand what questions were being asked and how and how to find information and how to look at numbers and understand what they were telling me. But I didn’t need to run it myself. So that was one that that I let go of and I should have probably let go of much sooner than I did. So that was probably one of the double down is I am a great storyteller and in my ability to get teams to pull together and sort of all in march towards a vision and getting you know at one point I was running sales and marketing and customer service which back 15 years ago in tech was very very siloed organizations and how do I pull them together. I think it had a lot to do with being an athlete my whole life and working and you know playing on teams and being coached and understanding the roles that we all play and how to get teams to work together that maybe were you know not normally teams. I think that that’s really what what allowed me to gain more responsibility along the way. And then from a Gartner perspective I’d say my ability to look at all the stars in the sky and see the Big Dipper and really visualize the patterns in what information and data was coming out. And what’s the story that it’s really trying to tell and how can I communicate that to thousands tens of thousands hundreds of thousands of people over the course of you know a decade would probably be where I double down there.
Vince Menzione: 50:28 So when you’re facing a difficult challenge is there a greatest hurdle that you face that you overcame that you reach back and you recall. Is there anything there that you that you’d like to pull back on that helps you through through an obstacle.
Tiffani Bova: 50:42 So my grandfather used to say to me when I was really young that patience is a virtue I have none. So it is it is what I continue to struggle with that I just kind of want it all done like yesterday. And so how can I always lean into being more patient both with customers and people I meet and things I’m trying to do. And you know timelines and all kinds of things right. I think patience is one that I continue to struggle with and I always think it goes back to the comment I was making a little bit ago as I’ve been working on taking time to reflect on OK what is it I need to do and what are those obstacles and what’s the best way for me to overcome them. And also if I’ve always done it a certain way it like. How about try it a different way. You know just communicate a little bit differently or don’t send an email pick up the phone or you know maybe approach it in a different way and ask for help and sort of just telling them how to fix something or you know it’s so it really is that I I I try to be a student of what I do every day and learn. And you know sometimes some days I’m better than others but I think that you know the cross I still need to bear is my lack of patience.
Vince Menzione: 52:02 I think that’s a great one. I’m thinking a little bit more about that one and saying Is there any any specific skills or approaches you take in terms of doing that.
Vince Menzione: 52:11 But I think you’ve covered some of that.
Tiffani Bova: 52:13 Yeah I would say this that normally I will answer a question pretty quickly. My my brain has always sort of on and even when someone is talking I’ve really had to work at not thinking about what I’m going to say but actually listening to what they’re saying so I could process it so I could say something a little bit differently. And so just taking a pause on the response and pondering what that response would be difficult in a podcast like this because you know I was very upset. Window of time but if we were sitting face to face to be a little bit more thoughtful on the response to it so that you actually reflect on what’s being asked and what’s the best way to do it. I think just even taking a beat really helps on connecting with the people you’re communicating with and also working on that patient’s side of things.
Vince Menzione: 53:01 You know I think I heard that referred to as golden silence and it was Stephen Covey or maybe another author in one of their books about.
Tiffani Bova: 53:09 Yeah it’s just a beat You know just to be you know and if you’re talking to somebody like if I were talking to myself I’d be like c’mon c’mon c’mon Answer me answer me answer me right. Because you have patience. So it’s also in the return that if someone is being reflective and taking that moment of golden silence that you let them do it.
Vince Menzione: 53:30 So any advice you’d give to your 25 year old self?
Tiffani Bova: 53:34 Oh yeah. So I wrote a blog on linked in with this very question like What would I do what if I could go back. It would be Don’t sweat the small stuff.
Speaker 20: 53:42 That would definitely you know the things that got me all wrapped around the axle from a career perspective in my 20s and even my 30s seems so insignificant today.
Tiffani Bova: 53:52 So you know it would definitely be that.
Tiffani Bova: 53:55 The other thing would be that although I did a good job at it I don’t know what I would have changed differently but I didn’t have my master plan in front of me that the decisions I made to change jobs and work at Cartner and now work here I’m start a podcast. I’m writing a book review all the decisions that I’ve made without a master plan kind of worked out OK and so that’s why that I’m not really having a plan has worked for me but I think ultimately I had some idea of where I was trying to end up just didn’t know what that looked like or how I was going to get there. And and and I’d say that so you know don’t sweat the small stuff. And the second would be trust the process trust the process.
Vince Menzione: 54:38 So visualize for our audience where you’ll be in five years what does that scene look like.
Tiffani Bova: 54:46 Oh boy – more it was more patient. You know I still am hitting on Guy Kawasaki’s advice and I’m doing all right onstage don’t suck it don’t suck my Bookal be out. So I’m hoping that that is a success. And I’d say you’re just doing more of what I’m doing today I just I’m really really fortunate. I love what I get to do every day. I’m I’m excited and inspired by it. The amount of time that working at sales force allows me to do and giving back. I recently spoke at the U.N. I do a lot around girls in tech. I mean those things are just really rewarding on so many levels. And so I hope it’s just more of the same. I hope it’s more of the same.
Vince Menzione: 55:28 That’s great. And one more question. Is there a one book and I know this is going to be a tough one but is there one book that you have read or are gifted often that you’d recommend to our listeners.
Tiffani Bova: 55:40 Ho well early in my career Purple Cow by Seth Godin is just one of my all time favorites. I mean it’s just really one of those books that stands the test of time and you know. And plus I just I love me some Seth. He’s just he’s just an all around great human being. And he was really instrumental actually in my in my too to deciding to make the move away from Gardner and Seth was really really there for me and in so many ways I just love him personally.
Tiffani Bova: 56:08 So I love I love purple cow. I’m looking at my bookshelf right now. I mean it’s a it’s a menagerie. I just got principles but I haven’t gotten through it yet. I mean even if I just look at my book it’s mapping innovation it’s the leadership’s mind that’s what great sales people do. It’s dealing with Darwood zone to win. I mean it’s quite a true place. I mean it’s all over. I mean I counted a few. Yeah. I mean I have I have.
Tiffani Bova: 56:32 It’s so funny. People are like I sent you the book. Did you read it like like what got I have a stack of like 75 books. And you know I I I want to read them all. I just I just don’t have enough time. But you know there there are ones that I think have it depends where you are in your career or what you’re trying to do. You know I think early in careers if you’re woman and attack a woman in business there are great folks around or even Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. Arianna Huffington stuff on thrive in those are all really great books and also great for guys too. If it’s if it’s really business and dealing with it you know inside the tornado Innovator’s Dilemma good tick rates are those staple books in search of excellence by Tom Peters.
Tiffani Bova: 57:17 If it’s selling books it just depends. You know are you a wrap and you’re an individual contributor and you’re trying to be better. There’s all kinds of things out. How to be better at social selling or how to be a better storyteller if you’re an executive and you’re trying to motivate your company. Nancy do arty stuff around better storytelling and illuminate is really spectacular and creating movements within your own company and how to arrange people in a way that you get them to come along for this ride is spectacular. You know the stuff on on customer experience for Zappos is great. Mean there’s just so many it just really depends. You know what you want what you want.
Vince Menzione: 57:57 Tiffany I couldn’t ask for a better answer. I really couldn’t. And what a great guest. I want to thank you so much for taking the time today and being here with our listeners on Ultimate Guide to Partnering.
Tiffani Bova: 58:07 Well there’s no place I would rather be. It’s great to get. Hopefully the people listening you know I didn’t know that I miss you dearly and I you know I see some of you at their events and it’s not the same as it as it was you know over the last decade. But I’m always out there cheering for you and for you and believe that you know that the business you know business is better for the partners that are out there supporting it.
Vince Menzione: 58:30 And for our listeners who want to reach out I know you’re very active on social your Twitter handle.
Tiffani Bova: 58:36 Tiffany TFF and I underscore Bova is my Twitter. And then the what’s next with Tiffany Bova is the new podcast right now and we’ll have links to all of this and the show notes.
Vince Menzione: 58:47 So I want to thank you so much for joining us today.
Vince Menzione: 58:49 So grateful that you took the time and I know how compressed your schedule is. So thank you for joining.
Tiffani Bova : 58:49 Of course.