New Proofpoint sales head Blake Sallé stresses commitment to channel

Proofpoint has elevated Americas Theater VP Blake Sallé to its worldwide sales lead. He stressed that while he sees no big issues with the company’s go-to-market strategy, improving channel productivity is one of his top priorities.

Blake Sallé, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales, Proofpoint

Cybersecurity vendor Proofpoint has announced that Blake Sallé has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice President, Worldwide Sales, where he will lead both the global sales and channel teams and be responsible for directing and managing the company’s sales revenue strategies. He had previously been Theater Vice President of the Americas since joining Proofpoint 20 months ago. Sallé emphasized his commitment to the company’s channel, stressing that improving its productivity and profitability is a top priority for the year ahead.

Proofpoint, which launched in 2003, describes itself as a 100 per cent channel-focused company, but its evolution to that point has been fairly complex.

“Like many early stage companies, while Proofpoint wanted to work with the channel when they started, it was hard to get the channel’s attention as a new company,” Sallé said. “So we sold direct, and built up our customer base, and attracted the attention of some channel partners.”

That channel business was originally opportunistic until 2013, when Proofpoint brought in its first channel leader. She built up the channel significantly, but departed the company at the end of 2016, with the company’s channel business being consolidated under their overall sales head to better align the channel with the internal sales team. That remains the strategy today, and it’s one that Sallé  emphasized is a strong channel-first one.

“We do have some legacy direct contracts, reflecting the fact that 69 of the Fortune 100 are our customers,” he said. “But I’m 100 per cent focused on how to drive new business through the channel.”

Sallé said he had identified to Proofpoint’s board that the channel was one of his top three areas for growth in 2019.

“I want to make sure we get a lift from channels,” he said. “We have internal sales, but we don’t work as two separate teams. It’s a single effort of going to market with the channel. The job of our internal sales people is to engage early with partners on opportunities. We don’t want partners coming in at the fulfilment stage. That’s something that’s helpful, but not high value. So we have doubled our team to work with partners, and I’m making more investments there. I believe that local matters, and we are making deep investments in local geographies.”

Sallé indicated that he was satisfied with the go-to-market model as it presently exists.

“There are always things that you can do better, and we will always look to continue to improve,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s fundamentally broken. My focus around partners involves how we can serve them better, get them better incremental margin, and empower them to take these capabilities to the market, especially since many are still developing their security capabilities. A key issue is how we can help them with services that can contribute to their overall margin. I’m excited about our potential moving forward, working more effectively with partners, and driving more business through them.”

Sallé noted that his other key objectives for 2019 involve making sure that Proofpoint captures new market share and adds value for the customer base across the current solution set that they have.

“It’s much easier to break into people than it is to break into PCs,” he said. “We want to emphasize providing security for people and the information that they create. That involves understanding who the most attacked individuals are, what access to information they have, and how best to protect that individual. We have role-based capabilities now, but there are things we can do to further improve that.”

Sallé spent over 12 years at Cisco, with his career there culminating as SVP as Worldwide Sales and Channels  for VCE for 16 months in 2010 and 2011, when VCE was in its joint venture stage. He was responsible for VCE’s go to market activities for sales and channels on a worldwide basis. After that, he ran worldwide sales and channels at Silver Tail Systems, which was acquired by RSA, as well as at digital and mobile application development vendor Kony, with a stint as VP and GM of the Americas at CSC – now part of DXC Technology – in between.