I was recently at a service provider storage industry meeting and heard a presentation where these words were actually said:


“It doesn’t matter if the technology is 30 years old, financial models win every time.” This person, of course, meant they win customer business.


But who is really winning?


I can tell you who it isn’t — the service provider or the service provider’s customer.


As a previous buyer of storage technology for 20 years at various global service providers, this is what we called putting lipstick on a pig — or shining the rotten apple. The pig is still a pig, and the rotten apple is still inedible. The market approach I just shared is all about the vendor, about closing business for the period. And too often, it results in the service provider holding the wrong end of a deal in the long term.


As an example, when I was working at a large service provider, we had a new technology vendor looking to win our business. Their “year-end” was weeks away, and the technology partner was creating a financially “compelling event” for us to buy — 85% off list price and delayed payments on top. WOW! Winner, winner chicken dinner!


We bought….


The engineering, management, marketing, and operations teams worked hard to launch in four months on a technology that was not as well suited for our services, however, within months of launching, it became very evident that the new technology would not meet our service requirements even though it was less expensive and we had better “buying terms.”  We pulled the offering, and the gear sat mostly empty.


The vendor we bought from was all about “helping us” with financial mechanisms, but when it came time for taking the product to market, they had no idea how to help us. They told us, “That’s your specialty, not ours!”


Unfortunately, this situation is all too commonplace as most tech vendors today are not invested in the enduring success of the customer — especially when their sale quota goals are looming.


There is, however, a new model emerging in the world in which earning the service providers’ business is based on building a foundation on delivering business outcomes, not retiring sales quotas.


Helping SPs achieve their business outcomes requires two ingredients:


  1. The right technology
  2. Clear path to monetization

So what does a clear path to monetization look like? It should explicitly illustrate how to take the technology to market and deliver business outcomes you must achieve. It is a realistic, consistent, repeatable consultative program that takes place over the full lifecycle and includes:


  • Pricing and packaging
  • Market analysis
  • Messaging/positioning
  • Sales enablement and marketing support

For years in my product management roles at service provider companies, I needed — and wanted — support from vendors in taking their technology to market and didn’t get it. Now, this is what I do day in and day out all over the world through a complimentary consultancy service called Fueled by NetApp. The idea is simple: If we can help you be more successful — and do this more quickly — then you will buy more technology from NetApp. We call it a win-win.


Do you feel comfortable and confident in your ability to monetize and maximize your ROI on your storage platform? If you’re shining an inedible apple, we can help.

Mara McMahon

Mara McMahon is the Head of Partner and Service Provider Go-to-Market at NetApp delivered through the Fueled by NetApp program. She is a service provider expert in GTM activities with a maniacal focus on maximizing return on investment from infrastructure assets. Mara serves as a business consultant to partners and service providers across the globe through the Fueled by NetApp program which is a free service designed to ensure the desired business outcomes resulting from NetApp technology purchase are achieved.

Mara has been working at NetApp (formerly SolidFire) for over five years and prior to SolidFire/NetApp, spent a number of years in product marketing and product management at a variety of service providers around the world including Cable & Wireless, SAVVIS, Verizon and Tata Communications. She has over 20 years’ experience working in executive, Product Management and Product Marketing roles.

Mara has a BS from Wittenberg University and an MBA in marketing from The Kogod School of Business, American University. Mara looks forward to working with you in maximizing your ROI.

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