Understand What is Important to the Customer: An Interview with Steve Perez

Meet Steve Perez of CDW, Extreme’s Champion of the Quarter.

What constitutes a success to you?

Leaving a positive lasting memory. When a customer or coworker needs assistance, they reach out because they know you are someone they can trust. Success isn’t always without failure, but the consistent willingness to improve, the integrity to lean on others, and the willingness to do it all over again all lead to successful outcomes.

What do you consider your own biggest professional insight?

The realization that in order to earn respect, IT needs to connect with the business. This is when I learned a switch wasn’t a switch and a server wasn’t a server, but instead they are foundational items to help a business connect to the data they need. That understanding of the business needs served by the right technology has provided me with a way to articulate how technology can enhance business outcomes.

For many solutions architects, being able to apply technical and business skills in their work is what motivates them the most. How about you?

The favorite part of my job is hearing from my customers and coworkers about how I have helped them to be successful. Once a customer caught me off guard and said, “Steve, you are truly the value added in VAR. You bring so much more value added to me as a customer than what your title says. You help me and my team make sure we are successful. I can always count on you.” That kind of feedback really motivates me.

It seems to go well with CDW’s tagline, “People who get it”

Early in my career I had the opportunity to lead a very talented group of individuals. This was just after I learned the importance of differentiating between business and IT drivers. I came up with a motto to help the team define success, whether it’s a simple help desk request or a lengthy project. The acronym is SIRVIS ― Speed, Integrity, Reliability, Visibility, Intelligence, and Simplicity. Speed, because both internal and external customers alike want fast results. Integrity, because they want people they can trust. Reliability, because when they flip the light switch on, they want the lights to come on. Visibility, because they want to see the research and thought put into their outcomes. And to top it off, Intelligence and Simplicity, because they want to work smart and reduce complexity.

If we as a team adhere to this motto, we have a great way to measure our success as a department. I believe that the credibility we gain with SIRVIS can be off the charts. I live by this in my career.

What is more satisfying to you, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with a brilliant solution to a sophisticated problem or helping your teammates grow and achieve their goals?

Each has its own reward, but helping my coworkers grow and achieve their goals is of the utmost importance to me. We win together!

You’re a rare combination of a highly knowledgeable technical expert and a real heavy hitter in business, which probably makes it twice as challenging to fully convince you of the value of any given technology or solution. What do you have to say about solutions from Extreme?

ExtremeCloud IQ and ExtremeCloud IQ Site Engine each provide speed to information and deployment, integration with ExtremeCloud SD-WAN and other product sets, reliability with deployment on the industry’s best cloud platforms, and amazing and intelligent support and engineering teams. They are simple to learn, deploy, and use. Additionally, the Extreme Universal Licensing Model has been accepted very well by customers as a model that is simple to consume.

To top it all off, the Extreme sales and channel teams consistently provide exceptional support to make my experience simply amazing. The integrity and humility that those teams exhibit is one of the reasons I love working with Extreme Networks.

Among many other things, you’re an expert in data center applications. How did you react to the recent news about the integration of Extreme’s network fabric with ExtremeCloud SD-WAN? What new opportunities are you seeing for your customers?

I love the integration of product sets and the solution makes perfect sense to improve speed to delivery, visibility and reliability of traffic flows, and simplicity of management and support. The speed at which it is being integrated into ExtremeCloud family shows Extreme’s dedication to success. I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss the solution, but I am socializing it with other CDW solution architects.

What has been your biggest success with Extreme solutions to date? How does the Extreme partner team support you in your efforts to guide customers through the buyer’s journey?

My biggest success was an Extreme Networks wired solution for a college with approximately 68,000 students served. This was both a Cisco and legacy first generation Extreme Networks customer. During the opportunity qualification phase, I was able to identify some pain points the customer had experienced that left a lasting effect on their perception of Extreme Networks. The Extreme sales team was open to listening to how to engage with this customer.

The customer recommended that we needed to approach the opportunity in two ways. One was the technical review of the fabric design and configuration, but what was more important was to repair the perception by engaging with the customer directly with Extreme management and allowing the customer to open up about their issues. Then we had multiple meetings to develop a sense of comfort with the new generation of hardware. The openness and listening helped Extreme align correctly with this customer and win back their trust.

Speaking of family time, your son Gavien has just started working as a network engineer. As a professional with more than 20 years of experience in IT, what piece of advice would you like to convey to Gavien and other beginners in the networking game?

Understand what is important to the success or the customer’s business. It is important to understand expectations. Expectations should be defined and mutually agreed upon. Go beyond that mutual agreement and you have exceeded expectations. Just don’t ever under-deliver. Don’t complicate things either. Identify smart, simple, but reliable ways to deliver technology that will build confidence and deliver the business outcomes the customer is expecting.

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If you are an Extreme partner and would like to become Extreme’s Champion of the Quarter, visit our Extreme Portal.

About the Author
Kilynn Sommer
Vice President Global Channel Marketing and Partner Programs

Kilynn is a bilingual marketing leader with a proven track record of driving growth and organizational effectiveness. She leads our global channel marketing and partner programs.

Full Bio