Trey Davis isn’t interested in talking about his business. He’d rather talk about yours. It’s not that he doesn’t have anything to say, he just wants to make sure that what he says is relevant. If he opens a conversation talking about your furnace and you end up telling him your roof is leaking, then he’s not doing his job.
Davis is a senior solutions architect at Sovereign Systems, a Georgia-based IT solutions provider that emphasizes business outcomes over products. The company takes a “hybrid cloud first” approach to their solutions. They also recognize that every customer’s pain points are different, and, as the adage reminds us, assumptions are dangerous. When Davis talks to prospective new customers, he usually has a solid grasp of how Sovereign can help, but he wants to hear their business story first.
“In this industry, many people are anxious to open a discussion with, ‘Here’s who we are and what we do,’” Davis explains. “We prefer to hear the voice of the customer first, to hear in their own words what problems they’re facing and what outcomes they’re aiming for.”
Hear them in their own words
Davis is Sovereign’s technical lead for all things NetApp, which includes the entire data fabric portfolio. Having come to Sovereign after working for NetApp, as well as having championed them for seven years before that from within the channel partner community, he’s well versed in how NetApp’s offerings can solve business problems and create opportunities.
As a member of the NetApp A-Team — an elite group of partners, customers and technical advisors that have the ears of top executive leadership and product teams within NetApp itself — he knows more than most, and that’s something he’s incredibly passionate about and extremely grateful for. However, he says that’s no shortcut to learning about a specific customer’s business.
“You only learn what’s important to a customer by listening to them first.” Trey Davis, Senior Solutions Architect, Sovereign Systems
Taking a voice-of-the-customer approach, they hear the technical challenges as well as key nuances about what they value in a solution. Hybrid cloud solutions can be configured in countless ways to meet a multitude of needs, based on what you want to achieve.
In today’s environment, that discussion is increasingly about how to control costs and shifting their expenditures from long-term capital investments in hardware to operating expenditures that can be adjusted to meet their needs. The specific technology under the hood matters a lot less.
“Customers are less concerned about how the data moves,” he notes. “They want to know that it’s there, that it’s secure, and that It’s accessible.”
Help them meet their business goals
That’s a philosophical leap that Davis hopes more customers will take as they gain experience moving workloads to the cloud, and see how much easier it makes their work.
“We still meet customers who worry that talking about things like cloud and automation means they’re potentially putting themselves out of a job,” he says. “However, once customers cross that chasm and transform their mindsets, they see that it’s not about making them obsolete — it’s about freeing them up for tasks that drive more business value, which makes them more relevant.”
That value can manifest exponentially with today’s technology. Davis points to FlexPod, which lets customers consolidate disparate silos of data into a single stack that’s easy to manage and can easily scale to grow with the business.
Davis says that given the fast pace of transformation in the IT industry today, customers value the validated designs that FlexPod offers, and they have confidence in the strength and longevity of NetApp and Cisco’s commitment to keeping the technology relevant. The combination of those traits makes FlexPod a top choice for companies that want to stay competitive.
“FlexPod has the ability to stand up terabytes or petabytes of data in minutes,” he says. “That can help companies bring new products or services to market faster, and that will be the differentiator that helps companies thrive.”
Their vision for the future is what Davis most wants to talk with his customers about before jumping straight into a discussion about specific solutions.
“I prefer talking to customers about their business outcomes,” he says. “If companies keep an open mind about the tools that are available and talk with us about their goals, we can help them figure out which tool in the toolbox is best suited to help them get there.” He adds, “But the really exciting part about it all? Coming together on a long-term strategy, advising on a solution and even producing an outcome right there on the spot…all without having had to discuss a specific product or similar line-item cost tied to a PO. That’s what the story of NetApp’s Data Fabric is all about.”
In the end, Davis says that’s the best measure of whether he’s a doing a good job. By all accounts, Davis and the Sovereign team are excelling. In addition to being a NetApp Cloud First partner, Sovereign was named NetApp Professional Services Partner of the Year in 2018 — another signal that building relationships is good for business.
To learn more about Sovereign’s process, visit their website at www.sovsystems.com.