Enhanced focus driving Veeam growth in Canada towards lofty objectives

Jeff Goldstein, Veeam’s VP of Sales in Canada, has overseen significant changes in Veeam’s Canadian operations, on a strategy to meet an extremely high objective of 62 per cent growth in 2017.

Jeff Goldstein, Veeam VP of Sales, Canada

NEW ORLEANS – A  year ago, former NetApp Canada country manager Jeff Goldstein joined Veeam as their first-ever Vice President of Sales in Canada, part of Veeam’s plan to increase their Canadian business significantly. A year into Goldstein’s tenure, changes at both the Canada and global level have Veeam on the path to meet extremely ambitious goals for the year.

“We finished 2016 at 34 per cent growth in Canada,” Goldstein said. “But that’s just a warmup. We need 62 per cent for 2017.

“My bosses are an impatient lot,” Goldstein joked. “When I came onboard, the question was – what is the opportunity in Canada, and how do we grow it faster. I asked for more headcount. We had 22 people in Canada then. We now have 36. We also have an additional 20 in Atlanta on inside sales, who are mapped on the channel space in Canada.”

The increased Canadian headcount has led to a strengthening of the sales teams who work with partners, and which are based in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. They cover the Maritime provinces out of Montreal.

The increased investment has also enabled much better focus in strategic areas.

“We’ve strengthened ourselves in cloud by bringing in Tony Romany from Cisco,” Goldstein said. “He now owns Cloud Service Providers for us in Canada. That used to be run by three separate people working out of the U.S.”

Veeam has also become much more focused in their relationship with the big national Canadian solution providers like Scalar, OnX, Long View and Compugen.

“We worked with them before, but it would be more accurate to describe our relationship then as opportunistic,” Goldstein said. “We now have focused partner managers with them. That has been a major result of our increased headcount, which strengthens our pathways to market.”

Goldstein also said there had been a positive change in channel focus with the recruitment of Peter McKay to the company as co-CEO. While McKay had led several startups, he most recently was in charge of Americas sales for VMware, and had a strong knowledge of the North American channel scene. That’s something that Goldstein said had not been a strength before.

“Veeam is based in Europe, and the market share in Europe has been much higher than in North America,” he said. “Until Peter arrived, the Worldwide VP of Sales was in Europe. That’s significant because you had Europeans trying to figure out how to grow the North American business, and in Europe, they have a very different channel model. There are no large corporate resellers like Softchoice or CDW. Instead you sign up thousands of resellers. Over here, that just doesn’t work because of the geography.”

Goldstein also credited channel management changes initiated by Kevin Rooney, VP of North American Channel, since he joined Veeam in February 2016.

“What Kevin has done since he arrived is better segment the channel through a U.S. lens,” he said. “We have significantly increased the alliance play since he arrived, and put people against that. While in Canada we have always been strong in the corporate reseller space, the increased resources to manage the national solution providers was part of this strategy.”

Goldstein said that his role in Canada is very much about implementation, not design of policy.

“My strategy is very much to find out what’s working in the states, steal their best ideas and bring them north,” he said. “We are really executors up here. We focus on execution, not developing programs. Canada is a different market, and is more mid-market than enterprise, and I have been given the flexibility to run it as I see fit. In the U.S., a leader has been put in place in every segment. In Canada, that’s not practical, so here I own all the segments, and oversee them in more of a general manager role. I execute the same programs from the U.S., scaled into the Canadian environment, and it has  served us very well.”

In addition to the smaller customer size, Goldstein said Canada is different in other ways. Veeam has made a strong effort since the last VeeamON in the fall of 2015 to build their cloud business by developing partnerships between Cloud Service Providers [CSPs] and traditional solution providers. In Canada, Goldstein said those efforts aren’t as far along as in the U.S.

“CSPs have built their businesses around Monthly Recurring Revenue, while traditional VARs are CAPEX, and there is still quite a chasm in Canada between the two,” Goldstein said. “The whole cloud movement has come to Canada later than in the US. In Canada, solution providers want to get into the cloud model, but many don’t know how to use it. Some of the bigger players have stood up their own cloud. Others have partnered rather than build up their own clouds.”

Goldstein acknowledged that Veeam’s segregation of the two types of partners in their own separate programs is an obstacle to developing ideal co-operation.

“We are getting better at building a unified program, although we still have a VCSP program and our ProPartner program for traditional partners,” he said. “We will bring them together in the fullness of time.”

While Veeam partners with many vendors, HPE is the only one with a full reseller agreement.

“HPE sees a drag of 5-7x in reselling Veeam,” he said. “In Canada there has been some complexity in the relationship because of the U.S. parent and Canadian organization, but we spent some time working out all the kinks. While this is the only Alliance partner today with a reseller agreement, there will be more.”

Goldstein says the competitive situation in Canada is somewhat different than in the U.S., because there are fewer players of substance.

“It is one of the few areas where there are less players,” he said. “Veritas laid off 30 per cent of their mid market team, and we don’t see them as much now. HPE sold off Data Protector. Rubrik is an up and comer, but they have a very small team in Canada.”

Goldstein said he also expects to see results from the North America-wide partner-focused professional services team that Veeam is building out.

“This becomes important in Canada as we move into the cloud and sell to larger customers,” he said. “The professional services team will build services offerings that partners can sell. They have already been hired and are working on those offerings. It’s a very important strategic initiative for us, especially given that we’ve grown so quickly with no post-sales delivery team at all.”

Veeam currently has 8200 customers in Canada, with a renewal rate of 87 per cent.

“I’ve been here a year, and haven’t had one conversation yet with a customer that the product doesn’t work,” Goldstein said.