Dale Smith

Doug Woodburn
clock • 7 min read
Dale Smith

Name: Dale Smith

Role: Channel director UK&I, Juniper Networks

Spirit animal: Eagle

Walk-on song: Get Ready For This (2 Unlimited)

How would you summarise Juniper Networks' channel philosophy?

Juniper Networks is a partner-centric company, and the investments made in the programme for 2022 will accelerate our strong partnerships and maintain the path of hyper-growth. We believe our acquisition strategy and innovations have created the most compelling portfolio of networking solutions available today. By bringing the spirit of innovation into the partner programme, with a new elite tier and an enhanced community, we expect to see continued expansion in 2022 and beyond.

Building on our Elite Plus programme, Juniper's aim is to go deeper into those existing partnerships and do more

Juniper's channel is constantly evolving to best take advantage of our huge opportunity in the enterprise. Our philosophy is consistent with our technology for enterprise, and that means leading with innovation, energy and credibility, to help drive the exponential growth with partners as they invest in us.

Tell us about Juniper Networks' partner programme in 100 words or fewer.

We are extending our significant investment in the Juniper Partner Advantage Programme. We are intently focused on collaboration, experience-led selling and new routes to market. We are also increasing partners' earning potential and profitability by investing in their practice. We are working to accelerate our partners' growth and strengthen our partnership even further as we take command of our shared future direction.

How many partners do you work with in the UK?

We work with 55 managed partners in the UK. In addition, we serve a broad network of partners via our distributors.

Are you looking either to expand or reduce that? If so, what partner profile does this apply to?

Building on our Elite Plus programme, Juniper's aim is to go deeper into those existing partnerships and do more. We recognise that winning mass market share right now means that all our partners are looking for sustained growth and profit, and we are winning new partners from legacy competitors, but we must be strategic and not tactical. Therefore, we've created a partner acquisition platform to treat each partner as an individual and take these newly acquired partners on the right journey for them.

Have you made any major changes to your partner programme recently, or are you about to?

The biggest change to our partner programme to-date was the roll out of the Elite Plus programme in December 2021. This is a top-tier level programme for the upper echelons of our partner ecosystem that also includes a modernised engagement platform that embraces a collaborative sales approach. The update also delivers an enriched learning experience to enable partners to quickly expand their knowledge of Juniper and maximise their business growth opportunities.

Whilst there's no further changes set for this year, the changing MSP and ISV partner ecosystems and the transitional pace of that industry means we're always assessing our programmes to ensure our partners are rewarded for the right behaviours.

Describe your perfect partner?

Due to the wide variety of technologies and solutions that Juniper sells, there isn't exactly one partner that fits all. I will say that partners that buy into technology, skills and add value to the supply chain are a great match for us. Further to that, partners who are creative and innovative, share the vision of a self-driving network and are great at marketing and generating interest in an innovative platform are ideal matches too.

In which areas would you most like to see your partners invest over the next 12 months?

Demonstration and Juniper Cloud Labs (JCL). Juniper typically wins when we provide POC and demos. So, having partners that invest in demo labs and POC equipment is highly valuable to us.

Juniper typically wins when we provide POC and demos. So, having partners that invest in demo labs and POC equipment is highly valuable to us

How do you see vendor channel programmes and channel engagement models evolving over the next few years?

The industry as a whole needs to come away from ad-hoc engagements and simply go all in with the right partners. Having strategic investment programmes at all levels for all partners that will drive the right behaviours and outputs for everyone is massively important. Therefore, having that strategic investment or framework is imperative regardless of who you are, whether you are an Elite Plus partner or a Select reseller.

In addition to commercial incentives to drive sales floor behaviours, we need to incentivise top-down management buy in to support the massive transformation happening with SaaS, MSP, hybrid, etc. Our programmes and strategic platforms must drive that change and adoption for the next 2-3-years.

What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

Our short-term priority is to help our partners exceed their goals with Juniper. But, we know that we also need to help our partners diversify their knowledge and continue to enhance their self-driving sales capabilities. This provides more autonomy for them in how they sell Juniper products. Our long-term priority is therefore to ensure that partners have the right capabilities for self-driving sales with our network.

Do you feel Juniper Networks is doing enough to cater for non-resale partners, including those that sell technology as a managed service, ISVs or agents?

Yes, absolutely. In 2021, we launched the unified MSP programme, and we've been busy investing in additional resources and go-to-market strategies to complement that. Partners are reacting well because they know we have the right technology for their markets. Therefore, we now have the framework and commercials to match their investments.

Name one trait you prize highly in partners, and one you deplore?

Partners who are willing to take the lead on POCs and demos. This adds great value to the supply chain and shows real competence and credibility to the relationship.

In terms of traits we deplore, nothing springs to mind - we work with like-minded organisations and are committed to supporting them in any way we can.

How do you feel Juniper Networks' margin proposition stacks up against your peers?

Based upon our partner feedback, our margins stack up pretty well. We are seen as leading on both the front and back end, which is really good to hear.

Margins are one thing but having a channel model which means partners aren't fighting with tens or hundreds of others on the same opportunity, ensures that our margin retention stays relatively high in opportunities compared to our competitors. Partner feedback tells us this is another huge differentiator in the channel.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one aspect of your channel performance or strategy overnight, what would it be?

Genuinely, in 2022 so far, Juniper has got it right. We're where we need to be, and we have the right programmes and framework in place. And partner feedback at our latest Advisory Council will back that up. But we are also cognisant that we always need to be evolving and ensuring we stay ahead of the curve.

What's the most challenging aspect of being a channel leader?

Balancing the needs and pressures of today with the plans of tomorrow. We often add new markets or ecosystems to our programmes, so ensuring that the deliverables of today are achieved for our partners as well as planning for that continued evolution, is a challenge.

Tell us something about yourself most people won't know

I'm a huge Nottingham Forest fan - we're on the way up. And I mean that in relation to the fact that Nottingham Forest is just about to join the Premier League next season!

What is your spirit animal?

Interestingly from a Juniper point of view, our Champions programme has four animals that illustrate the four types of partner roles: the Lion is the technical champion; The Wolf is the sales hunter; The Fox is the marketing champion; and the Eagle is the channel champion. With that in mind, I would put myself as an Eagle.

What would be your walk-on song, and why?

If I picture it in Vegas, I'd probably be asking for Get Ready For This by 2 Unlimited.

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