Erika Childers 20 min

Enabling the Varonis Sales Teams to Win with Cloud


Learn what it took for Varonis to enable its sales team to increase seller engagement, decrease time to close, and drive a meaningful relationship with Microsoft. Get actionable tips and best practices from Regional Sales Director, Mike Mason, as he shares how to foster a new mindset and enable new behaviors to build, drive, and scale adoption of Cloud GTM in your sales organization.



0:00

All right.

0:07

Welcome back from Intermission, folks.

0:09

I hope we got some snacks and we took a little breather.

0:12

We checked our emails and we are back and ready to roll.

0:16

And I could not be more excited to kick off this session because Mike and I'll

0:20

let him

0:20

introduce himself here in a second.

0:22

But since working with the Verona's team, they've seen such tremendous success.

0:26

Mike has a lot of wisdom to share with everybody here today.

0:28

So with no further ado, I'll kick it over to Mike to introduce himself and then

0:33

we'll

0:33

hop right into it.

0:35

Yeah.

0:36

Actually, well, first and foremost, thanks for having us.

0:38

Thanks for having me and the Verona's team.

0:41

So it's been a pleasure working with you and others.

0:46

Excited to share our story, but my name is Mike Mason.

0:49

I'm the Global Alliance Director here at Verona's responsible for the

0:53

relationships with our

0:55

hyperscalers, including Salesforce.

0:59

Perfect.

1:00

So I think the best place for us to start here is a little bit about Verona's

1:05

and about

1:06

the cloud as a route to market, like how that emerged.

1:10

What was the driving force behind that and like how long have you been on this

1:13

journey?

1:13

Because it hasn't been that long.

1:15

No, actually, it hasn't.

1:16

The journey has roughly been about 18 months to be too big exact, right?

1:23

And really how this all came about was, well, first of all, I should explain

1:27

who Verona's

1:27

is.

1:28

Verona's is a DSPM, Data Security Posture Management.

1:31

So we're in the business of protecting data from different aspects, from

1:36

understanding

1:37

what it is, understanding who has access to it and understanding what users

1:40

aren't doing

1:40

with it.

1:41

And that is the definition of a DSPM if you look at Gartner or Forrester as

1:47

well.

1:48

And in doing that, we've been protecting data since '04, and we started on the

1:56

on-prem

1:57

file shares.

1:59

And the reason why we got started with the cloud is we were transitioning to a

2:02

SAS platform

2:03

because we were on-prem for the longest time.

2:06

And as we transitioned to a SAS platform, using hyperscalers to build out our

2:12

SAS offering,

2:14

there were a lot of benefits.

2:16

So what we did is we leveraged that technology and we found a way to align

2:21

closer to these

2:23

hyperscalers because we understood if we used their technologies, there were

2:27

ways that we

2:28

could leverage that in our sales cycle, leverage that in our product, leverage

2:35

that in our

2:35

relationships with either Microsoft or AWS.

2:40

So that's how it all came about is because our customers, as data moves in many

2:47

different

2:48

platforms, our customers were asking for that ability to do many different

2:53

platforms.

2:54

And we knew we had a re-platform to SAS.

2:58

And if you look at our latest earning statement, the SAS conversions have been

3:01

going very, very

3:02

well.

3:03

And we're on track to basically do the transition earlier than planned.

3:12

Beautiful.

3:13

Yeah, I would say the on-prem to cloud is a pretty big driving force to

3:18

adopting cloud

3:19

go-to-market.

3:20

So definitely a natural fit for Veronas.

3:23

We talked about this.

3:25

You touched on it briefly just about the relationships with AWS and with

3:29

Microsoft.

3:30

Like for this session specifically, I do want to double click on the Microsoft

3:33

success.

3:34

Like talk to me about that partnership.

3:36

Like you guys are doing really great things with them.

3:39

So I just wanted to have you elaborate a little bit more there if you could.

3:42

Yeah, believe it or not, we're putting more marketplace transactions through a

3:48

zooer than

3:48

we are through the other hyperscalers, right?

3:52

Microsoft is our number one hyperscaler that we use.

3:56

But that's really born out of how we started actually, to be honest, right?

4:01

Because being on-prem file share, most of our customers are Microsoft customers

4:06

They're using the Microsoft on-file-prem.

4:09

And now they're using M365.

4:11

They're using co-pilot, things like that.

4:13

So when we looked at our customer base and because, you know, having over 8,000

4:18

customers

4:18

globally, they're mostly the commonality is that they're all that the majority

4:23

of them

4:23

are Microsoft customers.

4:25

So that was a perfect way to start, right?

4:28

And when you start looking at that and you start looking at the makeup of our

4:31

customers,

4:32

we, you know, as you guys tackle, explain to us, right, the, like listen, you

4:38

want to

4:39

go marketplace because we're going to access to the cloud budgets.

4:42

And if you look at the partner insights, the cloud budgets for a zooer continue

4:46

to grow

4:46

at a very rapid pace, right?

4:49

I think there's what over 110 billion, 110 billion dollars in Microsoft commits

4:57

So that was the first one.

4:59

The second one is we want to work with the largest cloud provider and expand

5:03

our relationships,

5:04

right?

5:06

Not every day are you able to work with the largest cloud providers in the

5:09

world and

5:10

add value to their, to their platform or to their problems?

5:14

Yeah, absolutely.

5:15

No, it's been a, it's been a really cool journey to watch.

5:19

You all with the Microsoft teams and especially in the co-sell, which we'll get

5:22

into.

5:22

So I don't want to steal the thunder from some of our coming questions.

5:26

Let's shift over to talk a little bit about sales.

5:29

So this is an 18 month journey that you've all been on.

5:33

And how did you go about making this a priority with the Verona sales

5:36

organization?

5:37

Like I feel like that is a very common question, not just every day working

5:40

with ISV, but even

5:41

in this event, specifically a lot of like seller, you know, enablement, seller

5:46

strategy.

5:46

So just talk to me a little bit about that and share some.

5:49

Yeah, actually go first.

5:51

I got to say it's a journey and we're not done.

5:54

Right.

5:55

This is always, this is always a process because we're fundamentally changing

5:58

the way in which

5:59

we, we sell.

6:02

So and being, you know, since 04, you know, it's, it's been a long process and

6:07

we're trying

6:08

to change different behavior, but it all started with a vision.

6:13

What we really had to do is sit down and understand what did we want to

6:17

accomplish with

6:18

Alliance?

6:19

How did we want Alliance to be perceived inside of the Verona's business?

6:26

And so we started with a vision on what we wanted to do and how we wanted to

6:30

achieve

6:31

it.

6:32

And once we had that vision for the Alliance team, we had to go and sell that

6:37

to management.

6:39

And we started from the top down approach, right?

6:41

And this wasn't just one conversation.

6:44

This was over many different conversations because we were bringing something

6:48

new to the management

6:49

team that was changing.

6:50

Like they, like, yeah, this isn't going to work.

6:53

When we were doing this, I, you know, from one, a couple of individuals like,

6:58

well, what's

6:58

marketplace?

6:59

Who would want to do that?

7:01

Right.

7:02

And now this is all we talk about is like, oh, who has, who, who can use

7:05

marketplace?

7:06

So it really radically has changed in the last 18 months, right?

7:12

And the other part was since we had management approval and management on our

7:16

side, we had,

7:17

we couldn't stop there and expect them to know all the inner workings of

7:21

marketplace

7:21

and working with the hyperscalers.

7:23

We had to go cross-functional and we started with the sales organization.

7:28

We had to get all the RVs, the RVPs.

7:30

We had to get the sales management on board on how and it wasn't really what's

7:35

it going

7:36

to do for the business.

7:37

I had to reposition it.

7:38

What's it going to do for them?

7:40

Release their sales cycle, right?

7:42

Get, get budget for, get additional budget from cloud commits, things like that

7:49

, right?

7:50

And so being in that cross-functional team, we started with sales.

7:54

I even had to go to the channel because the channel, you're a 100% channel.

7:57

So I had to go to the channel and I had to reposition it for them because it

8:01

wasn't the

8:02

same talk track as it was for management.

8:04

It wasn't the same talk track for sales as it was for channel.

8:08

I even had to go to marketing.

8:10

Having had no idea how to reposition stuff for the better together story that

8:15

has to

8:15

be very distinct.

8:18

Then I had to go to finance, which is always a fun conversation.

8:21

What are you going to do?

8:22

How are you going to do this, right?

8:24

Who's going to pay us?

8:25

And then I had to go to tax and legal.

8:29

And they're asking me all these tax questions.

8:31

I'm the last person to ask about tax.

8:33

I just want to get a deal done, right?

8:36

So I had to, and each conversation was different.

8:41

It wasn't the same conversation.

8:44

And it really, when you're having these conversations with your parties and

8:47

sort of

8:48

your business, you've got to key it to how it's going to benefit them.

8:53

Yep.

8:54

That's a very solid point.

8:58

The other thing that was successful in our journey as it still is a journey, we

9:04

started

9:04

with very small wins.

9:06

And we celebrated those wins.

9:07

And we celebrated those wins.

9:09

And I made sure that management knew about it.

9:11

I made sure sales management knew about it.

9:13

The channel knew about it.

9:14

Tax knew about it, right?

9:16

Marketing knew about it.

9:17

And a win for us getting listed on the marketplace.

9:20

That was a win, right?

9:22

It's a win.

9:23

Getting our first inbound lead.

9:25

That was a win.

9:26

It wasn't about getting a marketplace transaction.

9:27

It was showing the growth of the partnership.

9:31

Oh, folks.

9:33

This right here.

9:35

This was a masterclass.

9:36

Like Mike, everything you just said is exactly the strategy that needs to be

9:41

considered.

9:43

It's really that top down.

9:44

It's really cross functional.

9:46

What does this mean for them?

9:48

How does it help them not just businesses or owners, but like really as a team,

9:51

like

9:52

how does this accelerate this for them and their role and help them meet their

9:55

goals?

9:56

Like, thank you for taking the time to go through that level of cross

10:00

functional depth,

10:01

because that is really what it takes.

10:02

And the small wins and celebrating those along the way, that's very meaningful.

10:07

Yeah.

10:08

Yeah.

10:09

Now it's a process and it's a journey.

10:12

It's a fun journey.

10:13

I got to meet so many more people in this organization.

10:16

I've only been here for three years.

10:19

And we actually brought Microsoft on stage with us at RSKO.

10:24

And they're like, how do you do that?

10:26

Like everyone, it was like a facade.

10:28

Yeah, we're going to work with Microsoft.

10:29

Yeah, right.

10:30

And when they showed up at RSKO, that was like, oh my God, this is for real,

10:34

right?

10:35

This is really happening.

10:36

So that was fantastic.

10:39

And it really brought some good energy to the organization as well, right?

10:44

So yeah, that's awesome.

10:46

Love that, like seeing the, that become a reality for you all on stage with

10:50

Microsoft.

10:51

Very cool.

10:52

And one thing you did touch on in the cross functional conversation that we

10:57

just had

10:57

is the channel first approach.

11:00

How did you successfully manage to integrate the channel partners into co-

11:04

selling and marketplace?

11:05

Like how did that conversation go?

11:07

That's a very sticky one for a lot of folks.

11:09

It's very sticky.

11:10

And my recommendation is just meet it head on.

11:13

Don't hide behind it.

11:15

And it wasn't about a replacement guys because all of our partners already had

11:20

this motion

11:21

in place.

11:22

And when we really sat down and looked at our partners that had this in place,

11:27

we found

11:28

greater alignment with those teams.

11:31

Those teams were willing to work with us.

11:32

Those, our partners are already asking about marketplace transactions for their

11:37

own process,

11:38

for their own software or their own services.

11:43

Why can't you just tackle on a ISV vendor?

11:47

There's no reason why you can't.

11:49

And actually when I actually sat down with the channel leadership and I went

11:54

through step

11:55

my step, how the marketplace has worked and how it's not going to replace

12:00

channel, it's

12:00

going to help you grow your relationship within the channel.

12:05

And I had to show evidence that these channel partners already had marketplace

12:11

plays in motion.

12:13

And here is how we're going to latch on to their marketplace motion because it

12:18

wasn't

12:18

about getting a whole new motion with a partner.

12:21

It's about understanding their motion and how can you add value to that motion

12:27

currently.

12:29

And once I had that, and actually it wasn't one conversation, it was over many

12:33

conversations

12:34

over a couple months, right?

12:36

And when we had in going back to celebrating our wins, when we got the first MP

12:43

O or CPPO,

12:44

it was a huge celebration and it was starting at the channel, thanking them for

12:48

their time,

12:49

thanking them for their partnership.

12:51

And now today, fast forward to today, we have more plays now with our channel

12:56

team than

12:57

we ever did before.

12:59

And we have stronger relationships with our channel team than we ever did

13:03

before because

13:03

we're wider now at the channel.

13:06

Yeah.

13:07

Beautiful.

13:08

Love that.

13:09

I think that that's really awesome too to hear you even say like, channel was

13:12

already

13:13

there and they're like, hey, everyone is welcome to the party.

13:15

Let's do this and let's grow this.

13:17

So that's great that you guys have seen that success and internally that they

13:19

've also seen

13:20

that.

13:21

The one of the other things that I think that we get asked quite commonly too

13:25

for advice

13:26

on is in the CoSEL meeting.

13:28

So we've got the CoSEL meeting where with, let's say we're sitting down across

13:32

the table

13:32

from Microsoft, what do you advise that your sellers do differently to make Ver

13:36

ona stand

13:37

out in that conversation?

13:39

Yeah.

13:41

This is, I had to curve the, curve their mindset from our sales organization

13:47

that these hyperscalers

13:49

are not a land and expand and do account mappings with.

13:54

That's not the reason why they're here.

13:56

The reason why they're here and I had to get this straight across and I still

14:00

say it on

14:00

my mom's say like 10 times a day is to build trust is to build trust because

14:07

everyone's

14:08

like, well, no, we compete with Microsoft.

14:09

We compete with eight AWS.

14:11

I stopped them in their tracks and say, like, listen, every ISV competes with

14:16

Microsoft

14:17

or AWS.

14:18

That's okay.

14:20

That's common knowledge, right?

14:22

Let's find where we are differentiated.

14:25

Let's find where we add value to their current suite.

14:29

And once I got the team to understand where we add value, instead of looking at

14:33

where

14:33

we compete, because it's only like this big, look at the 90% of where we don't

14:38

compete

14:38

and where we add value.

14:40

And once we got their head around that, before we even go to a Microsoft rep,

14:46

the first thing

14:46

we need to do is we need to ask three questions of our sellers.

14:51

Is what business problem are you solving for the customer?

14:55

Because if they don't intuitively know the business problem that they're

14:58

solving, it's

14:58

going to be a rough road with the Microsoft sellers.

15:01

The second question that they need to ask and give up is who are they working

15:06

with at

15:06

this account?

15:08

And then I need to understand what is the specific ask to the Microsoft seller.

15:13

The reason why we have all three of these questions that need to be answered

15:16

before we

15:17

reach out, because we specifically put these in the email, so then the

15:21

Microsoft seller

15:22

knows that we're real.

15:24

And we already have a partner or a referral with a referral ID, because it

15:29

shows that

15:30

we know the account, we're already at the account, we're not asking for a favor

15:35

, we're

15:35

asking to work together.

15:37

Again, a masterclass, like that right there, especially love that you wrapped

15:43

it all up

15:44

into that is what we send in the email, that is what makes those Microsoft

15:48

sellers so excited

15:49

to get on the phone with the Corona seller, which like that's awesome.

15:51

I couldn't tell you how many times the sellers say, hey, it's a pleasure to

15:55

work with you

15:56

guys because you know this account, you understand, they're like, I get a

16:00

thousand these emails

16:02

a day and I just delete them all because they're all asking for a favor.

16:06

Someone asked for a favor, bring value to the conversation, bring value and

16:11

build that trust

16:12

and you'll go a lot farther.

16:14

Absolutely, couldn't agree more.

16:17

And I think this final question will bring us home and it's going to be

16:21

interesting for

16:23

you to think through this.

16:24

Like, if you could go back and tell Mike Mason 18 months ago, like some of the

16:29

lessons that

16:29

you've learned through these experiences, like what would you tell him and

16:33

other alliance

16:34

leaders that just getting started on this journey?

16:36

That's a great question, Ashley.

16:40

If I knew the stuff that I knew now 18 months ago, it would be a different

16:45

story.

16:46

But if you're just starting out in this journey, I would recommend that you sit

16:50

down and you

16:51

understand what is it that you exactly want to accomplish.

16:54

Because if you don't have a clear vision for the alliance, for your alliance

16:58

department

16:59

or team, it's going to be very difficult because you're going to be competing

17:02

with a lot of

17:03

different priorities within the organization.

17:06

You're just going to be another person looking for somebody's time or sucking

17:11

up time, whatever

17:12

it may be.

17:13

That's the first thing, is start with that vision.

17:16

The second thing that I tried to do this all myself, try to build a listing,

17:21

try to do

17:22

this all, I'm like, I can do it all, figure it all out.

17:27

So the second thing that I would tell myself that I know now today, scale with

17:30

technology.

17:33

Instead of hiring people, scale with as much technology as you possibly can.

17:38

Tackle has been instrumental in allowing us to scale.

17:42

Just so everyone can understand here, we have roughly about 60 to 70

17:47

interactions with

17:48

our hyperscalers on a weekly basis, and I have a team of two.

17:56

And so that's the second, the third thing that I would recommend is look at the

18:03

hyperscalers

18:05

programs.

18:06

Microsoft has some great programs.

18:09

And I heard a lot on this conversation or today yesterday, spits.

18:14

How do I spist my sellers?

18:16

I would say leverage the programs in which the hyperscalers have.

18:21

Microsoft has a marketplace rewards program, we're in top tier of that status,

18:27

and we

18:28

get a wallet full of Azure credits that we can give to our customers as we see

18:34

fit in

18:34

helping them scale out their marketplace play.

18:36

It's been very instrumental in getting marketplace transactions done.

18:41

The sellers like it, instead of spiffing the sellers, they're like, here, I

18:45

negotiate

18:46

with our sellers on how we're going to use these credits to entice marketplace

18:50

perks.

18:50

It doesn't cost us anything.

18:53

It just costs us to continue to do business with Microsoft, which we're already

18:56

going

18:56

to do.

18:57

So it's very fundamental and sit down and look at all these programs.

19:02

There's many different programs that they have.

19:05

And you'll find some good nuggets.

19:08

And if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer them as well.

19:12

That's awesome.

19:14

Those are great.

19:16

I especially thank you for just telling people how it is.

19:21

It is American.

19:22

It is a journey.

19:24

You are on it.

19:25

What you put into it is what you get out of it.

19:27

Like these are incredibly practical, but extremely wise, like tips to be

19:31

sharing with

19:32

everybody.

19:33

So everyone who's kind of feeling like, you know, at a certain place in their

19:35

journey,

19:36

like know that there's still a lot that needs to happen, but success can be

19:40

seen like 18

19:41

months ago.

19:42

Like Mike, this is an incredible journey that you've all been on and

19:44

congratulations.

19:45

Yeah.

19:46

Well, thank you.

19:47

Thank you for allowing us to share this journey with your other tacklers.

19:52

And thank you for all the support.

19:54

It's been great.

19:55

Thank you.

19:56

Thanks, everyone.

19:57

Bye.

19:58

Bye.

19:59

Bye.

20:00

Bye.

20:01

(silence)

20:03

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