From T1s to 'Human Experience': TBI's Bryan Reynolds Is Witnessing a Channel RevolutionFrom T1s to 'Human Experience': TBI's Bryan Reynolds Is Witnessing a Channel Revolution
Bryan Reynolds didn't foresee a long stint in the channel. That's all changed.
May 20, 2021
For former teacher Bryan Reynolds, the indirect technology sales channel provides another arena for education.
Reynolds applies many pedagogical principles to his job as senior director of sales operations at TBI. But perhaps the most applicable lesson is that you’re never too old or experienced to be a student.
“When you’re a teacher, you never really stop learning new things because you have to keep evolving,” said Reynolds, who taught high school band before starting his career in the channel.
TBI’s Bryan Reynolds
Similarly, Reynolds said an openness to new information and an acceptance of “not knowing everything” helped him embrace a career in the channel.
“If you know everything, then you need to write a book, and you need to be super famous, because you’re the only one in the industry that would know that,” he said.
Reynolds knew little about the channel or business technology when he started at TBI in 2014. His now-husband was finishing up a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois in Chicago at the time. Reynolds enjoyed his teaching position but knew he didn’t want to work at a school for the rest of his life. With that in mind, he moved to Chicago and handed his résumé to a hiring agency. Soon enough, he was starting his new job as a partner recruiter at TBI.
Reynolds admits that the job did not commence on the highest of notes. He was cold-calling prospective partners for his job, and he didn’t like it; nor did he excel at it — so much so that his days at the company seemed numbered.
However, Reynolds jumped at a new partner experience manager position and landed it. He quickly warmed to the role, which involved onboarding new agents and familiarizing them with TBI’s portfolio. He found that he performed especially well with partners who didn’t know much about the channel.
“I was really able to spark the relationship, develop the relationship, and help our partners realize their potential,” Reynolds said.
As time went on, Reynolds found that he was unravelling a deeper understanding of the channel. He said he hadn’t planned staying at TBI for the long haul, but that mindset changed when he saw partners making a positive difference in the world.
“That really appealed to me,” he said.
He took a management position in TBI’s back-office support team and recognized his gift for leading teams. He later moved to the senior manager level, then to director and now senior director. Now he oversees 80 people in the sales operations organization.
Reynolds has also held a visible thought-leadership role in the channel, educating partners on how to sell to younger generations and offering insight on technologies. He also serves on the Channel Futures Editorial Advisory Board.
Reynolds said he has witnessed a major transformation in partner technology portfolios since he joined the company in 2014.
“When I first started at TBI, T1s were still a common thing that we talked about. And now if you say the word ‘T1’ to a partner that is new to the channel, they almost laugh at you: ‘T1, what?’”
Reynolds said partners are pushing for more cloud-based, services-based and subscription-based technologies. Moreover, they are talking about themselves more in terms of the business outcomes they provide to customers, or “the human experience,” as Reynolds puts it. And COVID-19 only accelerated that. Reynolds said the pandemic caused our industry to advance two or three years into the future
It’s an evolution of both technology and business models.
“A lot of people are realizing that maybe they don’t have the best business practices, and the channel is a great place to exchange those practices,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds encouraged fellow channel partners to …
… continually educate themselves. Do your research, read the news, and most importantly, discuss your findings with your peers. Reynolds summed it up in one short phrase: “Don’t get comfortable.”
“Don’t get comfortable selling one thing or talking to customers about one solution and not moving on to something else or not digging a little deeper, because the channel is directly tied to enhancing human experience,” he said. “And we’re doing that through technology and best business practices. If you get comfortable, the bus is going to leave without you.”
Reynolds works toward that “human experience” outside of his day job. He helps lead a diversity and inclusion group at TBI. He and his colleagues launched the group when TBI numbered about 60 employees. Now TBI hovers closer to 300 employees, and the D&I group has 30 people. They meet once or twice a week to discuss trends in society, hear each other’s unique stories and enjoy a safe space.
“It’s really important to create a safe space, because when you have a lot of employees at your company, you want them to bring their whole self to their work,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds also serves as vice president for the Meals on Wheels Chicago associate board, working to help homebound seniors and people with disabilities keep their independence.
“No one should go hungry or have their independence compromised because of age or disability,” he said.
Reynolds said has benefited from thinking of life as a series of peaks and valleys.
“You’re going to be on top of a peak one day; the next day you might be in a valley. That’s OK. Just know that a peak comes after that,” Reynolds said.
One doesn’t need to experience dramatic life events to recognize this ebb and flow. Reynolds said even the most mundane moments can put us in a valley. But in those moments, can you take a moment to acknowledge the valley, build yourself up and move forward?
“It’s a day-by-day thing for me. You might be having a day where you don’t feel like you’re succeeding and you don’t feel like you’re going anywhere. You don’t feel like you’re making an impact,” he said. “But all it takes is one little detail, one little spark, and then that can be turned around, and you can head up to that peak again.”
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