Remote Workforce Solutions – Spotlight on Avaya

Mark Morgan, President of Intelisys, sits down with Avaya’s VP, North American Cloud Sales, Billy Madison, to discuss how Avaya is helping partners conduct business in this remote environment.

Mark: Hi, everybody. I’m Mark Morgan with Intelisys, and back here today on this Friday afternoon talking with Billy Madison, the VP of North American Cloud Sales for Avaya. And Billy, how’s it going?

Billy: It’s going well, Mark. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it. Friday, we made it.

Mark: Yeah, we did. We made it to Friday. And you know, this is probably the fifth in a series that I’ve done of having a scripted conversation that immediately goes casual, because I typically don’t follow the questions. And I’ve got a list of questions for you here, but I think the first thing that I’d like to ask you, because there’s so many different experiences with this whole go remote thing, first, for you, how has it impacted you personally? The whole idea of stopping the way you’ve managed your customer and partner interactions over the years? How did you adapt to this with just the lights being switched off the way everyone has been getting?

Billy: Well, first off I’ll tell you I’ll be the first person to admit that I can’t wait for the airlines to be back in business. Because I think on behalf of my family and everybody else, I can’t wait to get out. But yeah, look, I think for many of us in the business, we’ve used a lot of the collaboration stacks, the tools, for an awful long time, and we’ve done pretty well with that. But now we’re starting to, especially in the channel, where I think a lot of us had done very well in that face to face, in person, Jerry Maguire type thing, in the living room to do that, it’s forced us to take a different approach. And it’s been somewhat challenging to make sure that we’ve landed the points and with the same conviction and belief that I think have made us all personally successful.

So, it’s accelerated that. I think it’s been great, and it’s allowed us to have a good insight on what the tools of what we’ll be living through in the not too distant future will look like. So it’s been difficult in some regards, very good in others, but I think it’s a glimpse of what’s to be.

Mark: How’s the sales org at Avaya? How are you guys, what can you share about how you’re going to … What your plans and your customer facing approaches are going to be as we start moving out of this? We saw an incredible jobs report this morning.

Billy: No doubt.

Mark: And it turns out that that may accelerate some things. So what are you guys planning?

Billy: A lot. And you just reminded me to look at the stock market again. So I appreciate that. So our wealth has been incrementally helped today, which is a nice thing. But I think when you look ahead, and we were very … We went live launch in the US market on April 1st, March 30th of this, just about 60 days ago. And it’s been interesting. So we’ve had a very successful piece of it, but we’re very fortunate that the offering itself is timely. We’re on the services that we will be using, which is great, but it’s also been a little … We didn’t expect to have the sales process to be different as well. We also anticipated being able to work intimately through our traditional channel sales models of, combination of showing the tools and then meeting people face to face and sitting down and working with our partners in different settings, but it’s forced it all to use the same stack.

So it’s been pretty cool, so our adoption on, “Boy, this really is what Avaya Cloud Office looks like. Let’s actually use the tools, let’s learn about it and make sales presentations over the very technology.” So it’s been really good. It’s accelerated quite a bit, and we’re really excited for that. And then more to come on that offering as well.

Mark: Do you have any big wins or do you have any good stories coming out of you helping partners and end customers solve challenges in the early days of going remote?

Billy: Yeah, and I tell you, and even in this time of need, you’ve seen a lot of different types of business opportunities pop up. I could tell you one big win that we had last month was a huge test and trace opportunity across the globe, north of several thousands and thousands of seats. And that’s been interesting. So you’ve seen before us, one is this consumption of the offer itself. And then these new businesses that have opened up across the globe, new opportunities, taking advantage of the new technology maybe born from the opportunity to use some of these technologies where they weren’t able to do it before. So huge win for us, really excited, and it’s just added to the fanfare of our new offerings, which is great.

Mark: Well, that’s good. We had a record quarter last quarter in terms of recruiting new partners. We saw a huge influx in the number of traditional IT VARs moving faster, accelerating their push towards moving towards the cloud. So we’ve been doing a lot to strengthen our technical resources. We are expanding, as you know, long-term relationship with you and Avaya as well. We have very strong technical resources inside of our business, not only in the device, the hardware business, but also in the Intelisys business with our sales engineers. But we’ve spent the past 90 days really digging into, where are additional resources that we have that we can plug into the partner community to help them sell faster as we start coming out of this? So as a company, both Intelisys, ScanSource Intelisys, we see a huge amount of demand coming out. Everyone’s heard the stories about platforms going from 40,000 people to 10 million on there.

We’re working, Avaya is one of our partners that we’re working closely with on doing everything we can to help make sure that that demand gets fulfilled and that we have the right type of support and programs for our partners as we come out of this. Do you see … And so my point is, from an opportunity, do you see, because of things going remote and the amount of demand that came at you guys, do you see a lot of that being shared with the channel and working closer with partners on deals that may or may not have existed prior to this? What do you see? How do you see our motion, our sales motion with partners on all this new opportunity, how do you see that unfolding?

Billy: Yeah, I think it’s allowed two things. I think it’s accelerated the shift in technology, of prospects and current customers of many of our partners today, which I think this has just accelerated it. Because the need for immediate pulling in disparate locations, working, being able to have, you have to have it in place. And if you don’t have it in place right now, well, as America’s opening up very shortly, who’s coming back to the workforce, who’s staying at home? So that immediate disparate location thing is going to kick in, which is fantastic, and a product like ours can certainly have that. And I think through the sales channels like the Intelisys and of course the ScanSource union, I think it’s a very interesting relationship, especially with Avaya, because we service both.

You have that traditional Intelisys sub-agent base that likes and has sold great cloud based solutions for a number of years and it’s accelerating, and then those current VARs that are transitioning in their business in many different ways, whether they switch over to a different cloud based model, or maybe they’re just transitioning to more of a business outsource unit that provides more value to that. How do you take an Avaya Cloud Office offering and put it out there? And we’re continuing to do this too. We spoke this week about additional programs that we are a part of. We sit in the luxury of having over 100 million end points to convert to the cloud. So your partners, your VARs, and ScanSource, the entire ecosystem, we want to lean in with your partners to help us and we want to be able to provide programs for that. And I think it’s just accelerated that need and that, again, great excitement between our companies and our ecosystem.

Mark: That’s a great point. You guys do know where the fish are and you have the coordinates.

Billy: Hope so.

Mark: Yeah, we’re looking forward to doing everything we can to help, to accelerate the growth there, not only for Avaya and the new offering and the partner community. So we’re very excited about it. And with that said, let me ask you, what has been one of your most favorite moments in all of the video conferences that you’ve done over the past 90 days? Which at least for me, I think I’ve done at least 14 a day.

Billy: Just a few, yeah.

Mark: What’s one of your favorite moments during all of this video collaboration that’s been going on?

Billy: Well, one thing I’ve always found, this is a loaded question, I’m going with it. But here’s the thing.

Back years ago when I was a stockbroker, I always found it fascinating when people made incredible excuses as to why they didn’t want to buy from me. I always found it funny. And I’ve found the same thing now when we’ve gone live, we’re talking to each other, is that when something happens in the background or a kid gets loose or a dog barks or something, I find it the same thing. It’s just the excuses that people make. Everybody knows we’re working from home. It’s okay. But it’s this incredibly powerful moment where, even us, we’re talking together and it’s executives and companies, but the reality is just incredible. But we’ve all accepted it. We’ve all built it into a normalcy that’s … I don’t know, we never thought we’d live this way six days ago. So for me that’s probably been the most fascinating thing, other than just using the tools, but hearing the excuses. I find it, it’s a chuckle to me.

Mark: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I think that one of the coolest things has been able to, it’s proven that relationships can be built in many different ways. I’ve met more spouses, significant others, children, pets, et cetera. I’ve even seen one boa constrictor in a partner call. So I don’t think I’ve seen it all yet, but we’re getting close. But look, it’s Friday. It’s two hours and five minutes from 5:00.

And I may turn my clock forward, move it forward, but it’s been great talking to you.

Billy: Thank you, you too.

Mark: We look forward to getting out and having some face to face, but we look forward to working alongside of you to grow the business. And thank you for your time.

Billy: Yeah, we as well, thank you so much for having me today. And have a great weekend and all that good stuff. So looking forward to it.

Mark: Thank you. You too.

Billy: Bye-bye.

Mark: Bye.