Citrix CEO to partners: Focus on solutions and specialize

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton

Citrix CEO Mark Templeton

SAN FRANCISCO – In his own inimitable way, Citrix chief Mark Templeton delivered a strong message to the company’s channel partners today: specialization and solutions sales are key to a thriving, successful partner base.

It’s a story that’s been told before, but with an interesting wrinkle, as most things have when Templeton is involved.

You see, for Templeton, re-architecting his company and its partnering efforts around a solutions focus is a familiar journey, dating back to a previous life as an Apple dealer in 1984.

The company was successful, he said, not because it sold a lot of Macs, printers, and software. The company was successful because it sold the vision of desktop publishing.

“It was about answering what people wanted to do — creating beautifully designed documents just like professionals do,” Templeton told partners.

And in the same way, the company is moving away from urging partners to sell customers on the myriad products it makes across its virtualization, networking and cloud services markets. Welcome to solutions-focused selling, with a Citrix twist.

The chief executive’s theme was preceded by a presentation from sales and services leader Al Monserrat, where he said that for Citrix, solutions are all about “what people want to do.”

“You don’t want to go to a customer and say ‘You want XenDesktop,’” Monserrat told partners. “You want to go them to implement a bring-your-own-device solution. It’s a specific need.”

In that vein, Monserrat detailed how Monserrat is packing up all of the company’s offerings around seven solutions areas: executive mobility; bring your own device; and workshifting under the “mobile workstyles” column, and under the “cloud services” category: unified storefronts; desktop virtualization; enterprise cloud networks; and cloud convergence.

Going with solution sales around those categories allows partners to get in on “bigger deals, shorter cycles” while having “greater impact” for customers.

And not surprisingly for a company that sells in multiple categories, the pitch also includes selling across categories. Monserrat said that by focusing on solutions and cross-selling and up-selling, many solution providers are able to “more than double” the size of deals.

Templeton added that specialization will be key for partners, both in terms of the technologies they represent and the verticals they serve, and hinted that going forward, Citrix would be working to enable partners around those areas of specialization.

“Specialization is an important idea for all of us. There’s an immutable law: special purpose beats general purpose,” he said.

When it comes to the cloud, there’s a different version of the “build vs. buy” debate, Templeton told partners – should partners make their way into the cloud by reselling others’ cloud services, or building their own?

The answer is a simple one, in Templeton’s estimation: “Yes.”

The chief executive urged partners to both resell others’ cloud services and build their own cloud services and applications. Of course, he’d be very appreciative if they’d see fit to do so by reselling Citrix’s GoToMeeting and other Web services, and building their own Web services using XenServer, NetScaler and other Citrix technology products.

He acknowledged that it can be tough to know exactly where to go when it comes to moving into the cloud world, but he, Monserrat and worldwide channel chief Tom Flink stressed that changes must be made.

Templeton brought up another example of his own past – in 2001, the decision to evolve the company from a one-product focus (Metaframe) into the multi-product company it is today. Today, what is now known was desktop virtualization represents the majority of the business, but has significant growth opportunities in its cloud and collaboration businesses.

Looking forward, Templeton said he sees desktop virtualization representing 50 per cent of the business, with 23 per cent of the business in cloud and 20 per cent in collaboration.

And the remaining seven per cent?

That, he said, was the source of much debate and conjecture, but ultimately, he said it would be filled by mobile and cloud services.

“We’ll take this platform that we’ve built, we’ll make fantastic programs for you to build your future on, and you’ll see that Citrix is greater than the sum of its parts, the sum of its people, and greater than the some of its partnerships,” Templeton concluded.