What was your first job?
My first job was in IT sales recruitment, which involved approaching employers to uncover any vacancies, sourcing suitable candidates through advertising and then undertaking interviews. I was in the role for 12 months before moving into IT sales. It was a great learning experience for me and I think that the recruitment sector provides a foundation for subsequent career opportunities in sales, marketing and beyond.
How did you get into channel marketing?
I have worked within the UK IT Channel market for the past 15 years, working across functions to successfully build sales and marketing engines and devise strategic commercial offerings to take to market. The early part of my career was predominantly sales-focused, but then I moved into management, which naturally began in sales due to my background, but I eventually inherited a marketing function as my career developed and took over management of marketing teams. While I wouldn’t proclaim to be a marketeer, I’ve been able to enhance my skillset through my involvement in marketing strategy.
Currently, I spearhead Pulsant’s channel proposition, working with partners to help develop their services and connect to our national network of data centres and cloud platforms. Part of this role involves development of our go-to-market strategy and positioning.
What’s been your best day on the job?
An event that really lives long in the memory for me is the first channel award win that I was involved with. The lead up to the ceremony had been quite a tough year for the team as our managing director had sadly passed away. One of his ambitions was for our company to win an award and the fact we managed to do so shortly after his passing made it so much more rewarding. It was an understandably emotional and moving night for all of us.
What’s been the biggest thing that’s changed in the industry since you started?
A lasting memory for me from the early days of my career was the sound of the fax machine in our office. While everything is communicated via email now, the ringing of the fax machine used to indicate that an order was coming in for the sales team, so we understandably reacted with excitement when it did! The other aspect that has drastically changed is the fact that we had to manually fill in paperwork when an order came in. It was all handwritten documents and no systems in place to do it for us. It just shows how the business world has become so digitised in such a short space of time.
What’s been your best ever business deal?
At one of my previous companies, we worked with a partner to secure a significant contract for one of the major police forces in the UK. The contract was all-encompassing; it was the first time we had secured end-to-end service delivery for one customer via a partner, which included professional services, project work, maintenance and the managed service desk, all offered as a white label solution. It was a milestone moment for the us and the company.
How has the pandemic changed your priorities?
I think that selling itself has changed, and probably for the better. I think we’ll see continued virtual meetings, particularly in the first stage of communication with a lead. The days of travelling for several hours for an initial 30-minute meeting are most likely behind us, and virtual communications are more than enough for when buyers are in the initial investigative stage. I think that for when it comes to a purchase decision, we’ll still see the traditional face-to-face meetings. I spend about 90% of my time on video calls now, when I used to spend 90% of my time out on the road.
In terms of priorities for me at Pulsant, edge computing has risen to the fore, driven by 5G, increasing demand for hybrid and multi-cloud strategies and the proliferation of dispersed IoT devices. All of which are significantly increasing data volumes and creating opportunities for channel businesses to offer edge-based services.
Are you witnessing a skills shortage and difficulties recruiting people into the channel?
Recruitment is certainly a challenge at the moment, as we’ve seen across industries. I think on the positive side, we will start to see this easing as people begin to return to offices, although I think it’ll take a different form than pre-pandemic. When Covid-19 first hit, I think a lot of professionals took the opportunity to play it safe and not look for a new role due to the risk, but I think as we return to normality, we’ll start to see more people looking for their next opportunity.
Why should young talent choose a career in the tech channel?
It’s an exciting and fast-paced industry to be involved with. In the IT channel alone, we’ve seen shifts from on-premise to cloud, and then to hybrid cloud and multi-cloud, and now the emerging edge opportunity, all in just the eighteen years I’ve been in the industry. The fundamentals of other careers haven’t changed so drastically, but the channel has completely transformed and opportunities have expanded. There’s always change and that’s what makes it so exciting.
Your prediction for tomorrow’s world
I think that tomorrow’s world will be shaped by edge computing, where data, applications and content is processed and managed closer to the end user, enabling faster access and high-speed connectivity regardless of location. For the channel, harnessing the regional infrastructure and national data centre network of a specialist partner will provide opportunities to build their own edge solutions for customers, with a unique opportunity to become experts in the field and achieve increased revenues and margins.
Then and now. The one thing you wish you knew back then
Knowing how much it’s worth now, Bitcoin definitely springs to mind! On a serious note, I think it’s been confirmed to me over recent years that hard work does truly pay off. I don’t think anyone has to be the most talented, academic or intellectual to be successful in their career. It pays for people to just be themselves and put the hard graft in to achieve their goals. I believe that by adopting this attitude, people can get to wherever they want to be in their career.
As Director of Channel Sales, Rob is responsible for spearheading Pulsant’s channel proposition, including working with partners to develop their services, as well as the development of the Pulsant go-to-market strategy and positioning.
He joined Pulsant in November 2020, with over 10 years’ experience in senior sales and marketing leadership roles including 15 years at channel-only IT services provider Comms-Care where he served as Sales Director then Commercial Director. Here Rob oversaw Ingram Micro’s acquisition of Comms-Care and took a team of two people and approximately £2m in revenue to a team of over 40 bringing in annuity revenues from the channel of over £55m.
Rob has extensive knowledge of creating and marketing new revenue streams through annuity based offerings, as well as experience incorporating technology and AI to increase automation.
Visit Rob’s LinkedIn profile here