Top Gun 51 Profile: Datto’s Rob Rae Says Successful Channel Partner Programs Foster Community
It was 2013 when Rob Rae joined Datto, the data backup and recovery software company. The company was on the rise, growing in revenue and in employees, and Rae saw an opportunity to forge deeper relationships with its managed service provider (MSP)-only salesforce.
A seasoned veteran in sales and the IT channel, Rae has 25 years of experience and prior roles at larger vendors, including Compaq (now HPE).
But when Rae was first approached about a role at Datto, he was circumspect. Managed services were in their infancy and he wondered about the crowded field of backup and recovery software vendors. Still, as Rae familiarized himself with Datto, he was sold.
“This was a good product that was looking for someone to go sell it,” Rae said. “It was a no-brainer.”
Today, Rae is vice president of business development at Datto, and he predicts that channel business opportunities in emerging technologies such as the internet of things, cloud computing and security are “immense.”
Rae ardently believes that the channel is the cornerstone of IT vendor sales success and says he is “obsessed’ with fostering relationships with his channel partner community. That’s why Rae is a Top Gun 51 award winner. The program recognizes top channel executives who build and execute partner programs to drive partner, customer and supplier success.
Channel Futures: How do you differentiate Datto from other data backup and recovery companies out there?
Rob Rae: Our engineering — we’re making massive improvements to our product every day. But also, we picked the managed services space and stayed loyal to it; we don’t sell direct. We made the bet to go MSP-only several years ago.
My job is to help MSPs take this to market. They want to know, “How can I make money, be profitable, create stickiness with customers?”
|We recently unveiled our “Top Gun 51,” a list of today’s channel executives who deserve recognition for building and executing programs in a way that drives partner, customer and supplier success.|
As an example: When I came to Datto, lots of partners were selling the product as data backup for disaster recovery. But then, end users were saying, “I don’t have physical disasters — no hurricanes, fires, floods.”
When we look at actual data loss, 97% of the time it has nothing to do with acts of God. [Threats to data] come from malicious deletions, malware, ransomware. The MSPs need to be retrained to start talking about data protection. It’s helping them reiterate that message better.
CF: What attributes are key for next-generation channel leaders?
RR: A channel leader, in essence, is the identity for an organization. As vendors get larger, as you call the 1-800 number, as executives churn in and out, it’s important to have a consistent face of the organization — that’s been my goal. When people think of Datto, they think of me. If things go bad, they know to call Rob. You have to be willing to answer tough questions for your community and to get yelled at.
I take this as a true partnership. I’ve been doing this for 25 years. In the past, it’s been that vendors hate the channel, and the channel hates the vendors. It’s been this adversarial, “I don’t trust you; you don’t trust me, but we have to work together” relationship. I like to think that’s gone and the MSP is …