Claudia Lee (Nutanix) - Ecosystem of Technologies

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This is a podcast episode titled, Claudia Lee (Nutanix) - Ecosystem of Technologies. The summary for this episode is: <p>Vincent and Ajay chat with Claudia Lee, VP of Partner Marketing, at Nutanix. She talks about hyper converged infrastructure and how the company simplifies the use of complex IT for customers. Vincent's son develops ninja skills, and Ajay takes off to Miami.</p>
Intro to Nutanix and the role VP of Partner Marketing
02:18 MIN
The importance of partners, and advice on building good partnerships
02:50 MIN
What draws Claudia to startups
01:06 MIN
Advice to younger company's on building a marketing engine
02:17 MIN
What does and does not work in a LinkedIn message
01:26 MIN

Vin Lapsley: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ear. I'm Vin, the Associate Producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market. And we'll have a little fun along the way. In today's episode, Vincent and Ajay chat with Claudia Lee, VP of Partner Marketing at Nutanix. She talks about how hyper- converged infrastructure, and how the company simplifies the use of complex IT for customers. Vincent's son develops ninja skills and Ajay takes off to Miami. Give it a listen.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista's The Marketing Stir. I hope I'm coming in crystal clear. I have a new microphone. It's me, Vincent Pietrafesa, the co- host of The Marketing Stir, the Vice President of B2B Products& Partnerships coming at you. It is so great to be back. I felt like it's been a while, because I had some travel plans. I went to San Antonio. You'll hear about that in a moment. I've got my new Stirista swag on. It's been fun. I'm happy to be back here. Ladies and gentlemen, let's just pause for station identification. That's not a real thing. This isn't a station. I'm just making stuff up. But Stirista, what do we do? We are a marketing technology company. We own our own business- to- business data, business- to- consumer data. We hope. Partners, clients, utilize that data, to access it, to get new customers, email marketing, display, connected TV, OTT. Email me, vincent @ stirista. com. Ah, that's how people have been emailing me. I just realize I give my email address out every episode. Shame on me, but that's okay. I'm confident in our services. So email me. The other thing I'm confident in, ladies and gentlemen, I hope you're viewing us on YouTube. The clean shave, he looks three years younger. He already looked young, but he looked even younger. My partner in crime on The Marketing Stir, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What's up, Ajay?

Ajay Gupta: Just three years, Vincent? I was hoping for slightly bigger number there.

Vincent Pietrafesa: You already look young. I can't go... Three years. Then you look like you're 16 years old.

Ajay Gupta: Thanks.

Vincent Pietrafesa: What a good save. Improv. Thank you to The Peoples Improv Theater for three years of improv. Thank you. Shout out to the PIT, as they call it, in New York City.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, it's been a little bit of a crazy week, but we had you guys over in San Antonio, and then I was in Miami for three days. So it's gone from like no traveling, and no people, to two weeks. So I feel exhausted, but...

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, you were back- to- back travel. We were in San Antonio with the sales team, the customer success team, marketing team, gathered together. It was a fun time. A shorter trip. Shorter trip than usual.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah. I don't know, I might have, over pandemic, become a homebody, but we'll see.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Absolutely. Well, I think you have. You constantly mentioned on the pandemic... I'm sorry, on the podcast, that you nap. You're a big napper. So people have been asking me about that. Now that I go to conferences, there will be people that say," What's up with Ajay's nap schedule?" I will get that now when I go to conferences.

Ajay Gupta: Well, that's been ruined. Neither of my kids take naps anymore.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Ah.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, it's killing me.

Vincent Pietrafesa: You know what's killing me, is my two year old son is starting to get out of the crib and he flipped over like he was a ninja. I'm like," Wait a minute." I was impressed, but also this is going to be a problem. But we had a solution. My wife had sewed... I didn't even know she could sew. She was sewing, not the kid to the crib. People are like," Wait a minute, where's this going?" The sleep sack leg. So he can get up, but he just can't lift his leg over. Genius. Genius, my wife.

Ajay Gupta: I thought you were going to say, you guys got a kennel, and then he can't get out anymore.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I know. It's like a crate, and everyone was like," Wait a minute. What is happening?" No, he is very safe. He is great. And he's not getting out of bed, because he was doing that and it was insane. Talk about no naps. But yes, and also, those listening are New York fans. Guess who's coming to town in May? Mr. Ajay Gupta himself is coming up here to New York City to see me, and me alone. I'm kidding. He's to see other people are at work here and we're going to see some of our amazing clients, and visit with some of our prospects that we've been talking to who want to see us. So we appreciate that. Coming to New York soon, in May. Other things that are exciting. Other things that are amazing. This next guest, Ajay, she is the Me on her video, or vodcast. I like that. You know, it's a video podcast. This is sort of like a video, but most people consume us on audio. People say," I listen to you while I'm on the treadmill, or I'm at the office, or when I need to go to sleep." I'm like," Hey, you could have left that last part out. We didn't need to hear that." She's the host of the vodcast Own Future, O- W- N Future. Own Future. Give that a listen. But also, more importantly, she is the Vice President of Partner Marketing at Nutanix. Ladies and gentlemen, my new friend, Claudia Lee. What's going on?

Claudia Lee: Hey, Vincent and Ajay, how are you?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Amazing. I'm always this happy, in case you're wondering. You're like," Why is this guy like that?" I am.

Claudia Lee: I was wondering. I was wondering. Do you drink before you get on air, right? To get the energy.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I drink a coffee. I always drink some type of ice coffee. I'm an ice coffee guy, regardless of the time of the year. Even though it's very cold here in New York City. So yeah. Coffee, and yeah. You know what I got the other day, Ajay? I got," It must be exhausting being you." I was like," Wow, that's a weird thing." Anyway. But yes, it is. If you must know, it is exhausting, but Claudia, this is awesome to have you. I'm a fan of yours. I also love what you're doing at Nutanix, but for those listeners out there who don't know Nutanix, talk to us about the company.

Claudia Lee: Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Also, your role. Some of your day- to- day, what you're in charge of, the partner marketing piece. That, within the title, is new for us here at The Marketing Stir. We haven't had a ton of people on, on the specifically partner marketing side. So talk to us a little bit about that.

Claudia Lee: Cool. It's great timing then. Yeah. So first of all, thanks for the opportunity. I'm excited for us to chat today and Nutanix, right? I work at Nutanix. It's basically a cloud software company. So what we do is we help our customers run their IT in a more simple way, and we help them run their IT, regardless of whatever hardware, or public cloud, they want to run it on. So I know you have guests that are in the B2C and B2B space, right? So in my space, in the tech space, I think most of the folks in our solution area know Nutanix as the company that kind of created a category. It's called hyperconverged infrastructure. So the reason why we've been so successful so far, and why customers love our products, is because we took a lot of complexity that they were dealing with day- to- day to run their IT, and we massively simplified that. So think of us as like a software platform, you can run almost any application on it, and you have the flexibility of taking us and running it on any hardware, any public cloud, that you so choose. So it just gives customers a ton of flexibility, gives them time back to work on strategic things, right? Because now they can run their IT much more easily. There's a method to my madness on why I explain why so many things run on us, and why we run on so many other technologies as well. Think of that as like this ecosystem of technologies that we want to work well together, because our customers need us to work well together with those other technologies. So that's where all of us in the partnering world come in, right? Our job is to help explain to customers, and help customers understand how we work with those partners to deliver a more complete solution to customers. So my role in partner marketing has a couple components. We basically work with our partners, and our partner sellers and marketers around the world, to basically package up all the goodness of Nutanix, and help our partners market the solution, and make money by marketing and selling the solution. So that's, that's kind of the soundbite on what Nutanix is, and what I do, and why I'm at Nutanix.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. And, and what are the questions we love asking, because it's usually not a direct path. A lot of people haven't studied marketing in a college, and then now are in marketing. And if you are, that's unique to our guests. Talk to us, Claudia, how you got into marketing in the first place.

Claudia Lee: Yeah, I didn't start out in marketing either. You're right. So I actually started out in the consulting world. In consulting, you basically try to bring together a lot of information and data across the industry, and help clients make good decisions about their businesses. Right? And that's actually a perfect fit for marketing, because I feel like that's really what marketing's all about. Right? Like you execute marketing campaigns and programs. You collect the data. You use that data to turn the knobs and dials to make that next campaign better. So that kind of just was a really natural fit for me. Right? I was at J. D. Power. Coming out of school. I went to Accenture, right. Those were all consulting opportunities, where I got to learn about a ton of different types of businesses. I was actually working with super cool consumer brand companies, car companies, package food companies. So it was pretty fun as a youngster coming out of college, getting to learn about the business world in that way. And then I kind of decided that was a lot of fun, but I also wanted to be able to implement those decisions that we were helping our customers with. So after grad school, I went to this company called Dell. I don't know if you've heard of Dell?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I'm using one right now. I'm using one. I'm on a beautiful Dell computer. Yeah.

Claudia Lee: I never assume. And it is a huge company. I just remember when I worked at Dell, I would just meet new people and they would say, do you know Mary Smith at Dell? Once in a while I would know that person, but crosstalk

Vincent Pietrafesa: Do you know Mike Dell? It's like, wait, what? Yeah.

Claudia Lee: It's such a big company.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Big company, yeah.

Claudia Lee: And it's a little bit funny when people assume we all, 40 or however, it's like 80,000 people now, that we all know each other, it would be nice.

Vincent Pietrafesa: You should mess with them. You'd be like," Yeah, Mary? I love her. We eat lunch together every day."

Claudia Lee: But, no, Dell was like a really defining job for me, just because I got to do so many different things at Dell. Right? To me, it was like my first real experience being a marketer, and I got to do a lot of different things. Brand management, pricing, promotions, merchandising, services solutions. Right? So Dell was a great place for any marketer to just learn a lot about a lot of different things. I then decided to go to a company called Conval, a software company, much smaller company. Really cool opportunity to learn about the cloud. I worked with AWS, and other cloud service providers. And then six plus years ago, I landed at Nutanix. Great place. Also a defining opportunity for me, just because it was my first startup experience. And I kind of found out that I'm a startup person. I love it. You get to just think about how to drive growth. You think about your customers and partners every day. It's all about everyone pulling together to figure out how to get things done. You don't necessarily always have a lot of resource, but you figure out a way. So it's just very creative. It's very much focused on acting. It's very much focused on driving results, and just, you need that team spirit to get anything done in that startup world. We're not a startup anymore, but we still have a lot of that culture and kind of sensibility, even today. So yeah, that's my journey on how I started out in marketing at a big company like Dell. And then I took all those skills and took it into more of a startup experience, and built partner marketing at Nutanix up from scratch.

Ajay Gupta: Great. Thanks for sharing that story, Claudia. And to take us to today, what are some of the channels and strategies that are working for you, and tell us a little bit about your marketing stack.

Claudia Lee: Yeah, I mean, I think Ajay, if you were to take a look at what we're doing, it's very much classic enterprise software, B2B marketing, right? We're doing so much across all the levers, right? We have an amazing messaging, and PR, and comms function, that creates the air cover. Right? And then a lot of our demand gen sits within the region. So we have global teams that are building campaigns that are wrapped around the solutions, that we believe drive differentiation for Nutanix with our partners. And then our job is to enable all of our regional marketers to take that message out directly to customers and partners. And then, the foundation of a lot of that always on concept is all of our digital tactics. And then last, but not least, my team kind of helps bring that together, because we think about how do we have others carry the message for us. And that's where partnering comes in, and is super duper important. We've been going on this journey when it comes to partner marketing. Right? Because again, I was just one person when we started, and we've gotten more mature as we've gone along. And it wasn't just about hiring more people. Right? One of the things we've done... So, your company is a marketing tech and services company, right? So we've been bringing that type of a practice building into the partner marketing world that I own. Right? Because when we started, we had no tools, no automation, nothing. Right? And so over time we've built out a partner marketing practice, where we have a SaaS platform that we can run campaign automation on. It's localized. It reflects all of the best campaigns that our core marketing engine runs. It allows our partners to run it themselves if they so choose, or they can get assistance running it. And it's not just top of funnel activities, right? It's not just digital social, and those type of top of funnel. We actually also have marketing services agencies that are plugged into the platform, so that then you can do the follow- up, and build the funnel, and progress the funnel, along the customer journey. So, we definitely have a very mature marketing stack, and marketing organization. And my piece of the pie, I would say we're pretty mature. I think we're pretty leading edge, but really what we're trying to get to the next chapter for my team, when it comes to just marketing best practices, is to continue to think about how do we use technology to make partner marketing easier, faster, cheaper, scale more, right? Because that's been a little bit underserved, in my experience. Right? So a lot of MarTech, I'm sure you guys would agree. A lot of MarTech, up till three, five years ago was very focused on consumer facing demand gen, because that's something a marketer can measure, right? This is a marketing podcast. So we can kind of talk about the foibles, and the things that marketers deal with. Right? So a lot of the technology was geared towards customer facing. So partner marketing's been a little bit underserved when it comes to technology, right? So I have personally seen just this increase, and this blossoming of tech companies, that are trying to serve partner marketing, and sort of partnering in general. And so, my team's been harnessing that, applying that, adopting that, right? Because again, the whole goal is just to make the act of helping our partners reach our customers easier, faster, cheaper, and do it in a really creative, beautiful way.

Ajay Gupta: So Claudia, to expand on that, what is the importance of partners, and what are some of the advice you have on building good partnerships?

Claudia Lee: Let's see. That could be a vodcast all on its own. Yeah. You can tell I'm very excited because honestly, I think partnering is coming to the forefront of the tech space, right? It's almost like partnering is trending right now, because there are so many companies that have great products, but a lot of these companies are realizing that it's not always just about the best product you have to reach your customers with those products. And so any one company, you can never hire enough reps. You can never hire fast enough. Right? So how are you going to reach all your customers? You're going to need help. You're going to need friends. Right? So therefore partnering has just become so, so important in the IT space, and the tech space, that I'm in. That said, everyone wants to partner, but it's not always easy. Not every partnership is successful. So I think it starts when you think about like," What does it take to make a partnership successful?" Each situation is different, but some of the consistent themes that I see is first, you have to have your customer value prop super clear, right? It has to be tangible, easily communicated, value prop on why one plus one equals three. Right? Everyone says that, but it has to be based on true solution value. Right? So that's fundamental. And then, I think a lot of partnerships can struggle if you're not clear on the swim lanes, right? Let's say one plus one equals three, that's clear. And then there needs to be clarity on how are you going to sell together? Where are you going to sell together? Who's going to lead? Who's not going to lead? Are there competitive situations that you need to have swim lanes for? So just understanding that engagement model is super important. And then, I think having clarity on who's going to lead, and who's going to follow in which markets, and being able to measure the impact of the partnership, right? That one is super important, right? Every partnership sounds really great on paper, but every partnership lives, or dies, by the ability to drive revenue for your company. So if you can't measure it, then you can't show the value to your company. And then, companies have so many priorities. You lose interest, right? So just being able to measure the value of the partnership is also super, super important, right? Like I said, there's so many factors. Every partnership is different, but those are some of the consistent things that I see, that really define whether a partnership is going to be successful or not.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Claudia, you mentioned this could be a vodcast episode in itself. Talk to me about that. I mentioned in the beginning of the podcast, but I want to talk to you about Own Future. I want to talk your podcast there. I love you call it vodcast, but talk to me how that came about, some of the guests that you have, where could people find it?

Claudia Lee: Yeah. So Own the Future is for our partners, right? So we do a lot of messaging and communications out to our partners on new products, programs, things that they can do to help drive their revenue, with Nutanix supporting them. But we also found that we just didn't have an avenue to talk about trends, right? What's up with AI, and why should you care as a partner? What does hybrid multi- cloud really mean, and how do you make money out of that? Right? Like there were just some more long term, or strategic topics, that we didn't really have an avenue for. And also we just have so many experts in our company, and then also partners that we work with, that we wanted to just put in front of our partners, and for them to gain insights from. So long story short, we were like," Hmm, yeah, nobody reads anymore. So what are ways to expose these cool ideas to our partners?" So we just tried it out last year as an experiment it's called Own the Future. And then the genesis of the name is just that, again, it's about trends, and things to think about for the future, and how to harness some of these trends to help you be successful. It's not as much about what to sell today, right? So it's around, hopefully this knowledge that we're providing to you will help you control your destiny and own the future. So that's the genesis of it. You can find it on Apple, and all the usual places, on YouTube, on our partner portal. And we just finished Episode One, so we're kind of looking at the results, thinking about what we want to talk about. Sorry, Season One, that is. Sorry.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, okay. Yeah.

Claudia Lee: You just finished Season One.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I was like, wait a minute. I was like, yeah, I saw more than

Claudia Lee: No, no, you're like, you saw more than one episode.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I was like,"What episode? Yeah."

Claudia Lee: We just finished Season One, so now we're kind of thinking about topics, and guests, and things like that, for Season Two. So maybe we might reach out.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice, nice. Own the Future. Sorry about that. I said Own Future. Own the Future.

Claudia Lee: Own the Future. Yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah.

Claudia Lee: Own it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I love it. I love it. That's fantastic. And you're the host?

Claudia Lee: I am the host. It's been fun. It's been a learning experience for me as well. Right? It's a lot harder than it looks, as you can attest to.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, although I enjoy talking, my problem sometimes is like," All right, that's enough out of you."

Claudia Lee: Yeah.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah. Vincent, it's not everybody's a natural at podcast list.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, naturally fun.

Claudia Lee: I love it, because I just get to sit and just, I'm like this, and I'm learning from my guest speaker. And I just learned about all these different, cool topics, right?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah.

Claudia Lee: No code. What does that actually mean? What are the technologies that are enabling the future of work? I mean, just cool stuff, right? That I get to just take a moment from all the lists, and action items, and just sit and soak up information from smart people.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. No, that's fun. That's why I enjoy it. We wanted to put this out. The Marketing Stir is kind of like stirring things up, but it's also the stir of the drink, where it's like, if we met our guest at the bar, at a conference, what would we talk about? And it's that conversation, but I've learned so much. And I love that we get to talk to amazing people. So yeah, I'm glad you have that. Own the Future, give it a listen. Also, Claudia, I want to go back to what you said, the startup world. What draws you to it now? I mean, like you said, you've been at big companies. What draws it to you? Is it the fact that you wear many hats? Is the fact that you're building something? I'd love for you to expand on that more.

Claudia Lee: Yeah. I mean, for me personally, I think it's the learning aspect, right? I still call Nutanix a startup, even though we're pretty large now, but we're more of a mid- size company. But we still have that mentality where, you know what? Try something. You'll learn from it. Some of it will work. Some of it you'll learn from, and it'll help you build for the future. It's that mentality that I really love. That's the number one thing, is just the opportunity to try new things and learn from it. This isn't a startup story, but I think all of us who are marketers during the pandemic, learned a ton about virtual events, and quality of your message, in a video format, and just ways to tell the story outside of doing a seminar or a live event, right? Those are skills that any marketer is a better marketer for. Right? So just examples of that happen all the time, every day, at a startup like Nutanix.

Ajay Gupta: Claudia, you've been at some pretty impressive companies, and a lot of impressive roles. What advice can you give a younger company to build a marketing engine that works for them?

Claudia Lee: I would say one thing I've learned a lot over the years is just be clear on what you want this to look like in three to five years out. It doesn't have to be a startup. It can be in any company, where things are just very fast- paced. The natural knee- jerk reaction is to act, and you always have to act, right? Urgency is important, but the more you have in your mind, the vision of what you want this to look like in three to five years, then you can do things in a way that's building for the future. Right? It's kind of like killing two birds, right? Every tactic, every program, in a way, you want that NQL to get produced for your short- term goal, but every program or tactic should be helping you build a future program, or make the program stronger, or build capability that you're going to scale out in other ways. So I think that would be my main advice, is just to think about what you believe your marketing engine's going to look like three to five years out, not just the today, and then you can build the steps to get there. And just in my little corner of the world, thinking about partnering all the time, that's actually really important, because I see a lot of companies that build a very direct marketing and sales direct engine, and then they hit this patch where they want to grow more. And then they think about partnering, and you haven't really planted the seed yet. So you kind of want to start thinking about how are partners part of your go- to- market from the beginning, so that you're planning for that and building that, because it'll take time to bear fruit, right? Just like customers, it's the same thing, right? You have to build the value prop, build the engagement, build the relationships, and then you can start selling with your partners. It's the same thing. Right? So, yeah, that would be my point number two as just think about how you want to use partners in your go- to- market model, and build that into your engine, because if you get too ingrained into a direct mindset... I've seen this at companies as well. If you're too ingrained into the direct mindset, it's really hard to change behavior after it's pretty ingrained.

Ajay Gupta: Claudia, this is one of our staple questions here. And the question is a lot of, I'm sure you get a lot of unsolicited LinkedIn messages and emails, and we'd love to know, what's a message that gets a response from you, and what's one that really annoys you?

Claudia Lee: Ah. You know what? It's funny, because, yeah, I do get a lot. Because we were talking earlier about how partner marketing, and partnering, has really come to the forefront. So I get a lot more solicitations now than I used to. I think if it's done well, in a way that they are demonstrating that they know what your function, or company does, and they're taking a really good guess at topics that you're probably thinking about already, right? So for anyone who's a vendor out there, who wants to contact me, channel marketing ROI is probably something I would open an email about or read. Right? So that those are done well, because they kind of know the audience, they know what a typical partner market, or a marketer, cares about, and they're trying to solve something for us. Right? I think the ones that aren't done well, I see them, and it's just a shame, because it's mostly just around little things like quality things, right? I got one a week ago, where they clearly did a mail merge, and they forgot to change the subject line to my company. It was a different company. So it is just about execution, I guess I would say, on the things that don't work well. It's about how well you execute with precision and quality.

Vincent Pietrafesa: What's the name of that company that reached out? Let's shout about... No, I'm kidding. Let's inaudible.

Claudia Lee: I know.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. That's funny. It's like,"We'd love to help out your company space generation." Actually, wait a minute, you're way off.

Claudia Lee: Well, the sad thing is, it's from a really large company. So when you're at a really large company, as a marketer, you just don't have to hustle as much usually, because your brand is already out there. Right? So there's a lot more forgiveness for those little mistakes. If you're not as well known, that might be your only interaction with your audience, so they only can judge you by that one little thing. So just... Yeah. Quality is super important.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yep. No, I like it. Thanks for sharing that. People love that question. It is a staple question, as Ajay said, and the feedback we get from our listeners on that, it's like," Well, I tell my sales team that. I tell my marketing department that. I've changed my own methodology of reaching out to people." It's research, it's quality, look into it. Doesn't have to be reaching out to 20, 000 people a week. It does not work. Claudia, I wanted to talk about specifics. You talked about the platform. You talked about automation as well, but how has it helped Nutanix, that you've started automating some of that procedures on the partner marketing platform?

Claudia Lee: I think it's been a huge benefit to Nutanix. We have a few thousand partners that we want to actively work with. Right. And we have sales folks that work with our partners, and with our customers, but if you think about it, they're not going to be able to interact with each and every one of their partners on a daily basis, right? So our job as marketers is twofold. One is to give our sales people air cover, right? The more your audience has heard about you already, by the time your sales rep calls, it just makes that sales rep's job easier. Right? So that's where automation will come in. There's a central platform where partners can come in and just consume information, find out the latest and greatest on programs and products, and things like that. We do other forms of communication, and that all just sets the table so that they can be efficient when they're engaging with their customers and partners. And then the other thing too, is that.... And I'm sure every single one of your guests probably talks about this, marketing is becoming more and more data centric, and more and more digitized, right? That human interaction is still super important, but just it's become almost like data scientist level quality of a function. So yeah, all the work we've done to automate partner marketing campaigns, and things like lead flow, are super important, just to help innovate and drive modernization efficiency for our marketing engine as a whole. And it totally paid off during the pandemic, right? We had been building this for last few years, and started out with minimal viable product, and kept building features. And we were just doing it anyway, because we needed it. And then the pandemic hit, and I know a lot of companies might have scrambled a little bit. The good news for our teams were that we had a platform that was operational and already running at scale, and our partners definitely leveraged it. Our activity levels went up like two to threefold, during that time, just because folks needed more digital tactics during that time.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. A lot of guests that we had on talked about digital transformation during that time, being able to almost get with the times. I think the pandemic woke up a lot of companies in that sense.

Claudia Lee: Mm-hmm(affirmative). Totally.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Talk to us, finally, about the partner program. Anything else new on the horizon for that? Anything that the listeners could look forward to?

Claudia Lee: Yeah. I think that for our partners that are listening, I hope they feel like Nutanix has always been pushing the envelope to design a program that's more modern and forward- leaning. So what I mean by that is that last year... It's been about year and a half, right? We launched our new partner program, and we were designed it, so it was much more simple. And it was really based on the idea of helping our partners build competencies that helped them solve the solution better. Right? Because a lot of traditional partner programs... I know Vincent, you mentioned you don't have as many guests focused on the partnering world, but a lot of partner programs, you basically get put into a tier of the program, based on how much revenue you do. Right? And we decided that really wasn't our focus. Every partner's important, and the more skilled you are at understanding our solution, and helping customers implement the solution, then we want to value and reward that. So we pivoted to a competency based model a year and a half ago. And then the next evolution is that alongside what's happening in our industry is that... You know this well, right? Customers are more about buying an experience, or a service now, versus buying a product. Right? So in our space, a lot of the industry is trending towards subscription- based selling instead of buying a product and using it for five years. Right? So that means how we all have to engage with our customers is changing, because it's much more of a lifetime journey type of a lens on how you sell to customers. So that's kind of the next evolution of the partner program, when you were asking about, what's next for our partner program? We're going to be designing it and continue to evolve, so that we're helping partners really be successful through the customer journey, not just in that first transaction.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Nice. Awesome. Thank you for sharing that with us. Sounds exciting. Claudia, last question. We always like to get to know our guests on the personal level. Tell me about what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Can we talk about the ranch? I feel like we need to talk about the ranch in Texas. Please explain that, but also what you like to do for fun?

Claudia Lee: Oh yeah. No. I love to talk about our ranch. I live in Austin, Texas. I didn't grow up here, by the way. I grew up in Pittsburgh. And so we have land out in this place called Burnet, Texas, for anyone listening who's from Texas, or knows that area. And you know, we use it as a place to go out on the weekends, and just unwind, and unplug, and get with nature, and experience the joys of nature. I was a city gal growing up. I married a country boy. He came to me with this crazy idea one day saying," Wouldn't it be cool if our kids grew up learning, or knowing how to ride horses," because that's my husband's background. And of course, he kind of duped me into it, because what Mom wouldn't do anything for their kids, right?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Claudia Lee: So yeah. So we bought this land a few years ago, and we've just been kind of working on it. Now we have eight horses.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Wow.

Claudia Lee: And eventually, we are just in that area around the horse culture is pretty cool. I've learned a lot about it. I've been learning how to ride. I'm still a beginner, but it's a lot of fun. Right? So as you can tell from what I was saying before, I'm all about learning, and new experiences, so it's been a really cool experience for me, personally.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's amazing. To this day, I don't know if I've share this with you, Ajay, I've never been on a horse. I've never been on a horse. Yeah.

Claudia Lee: It's cool, yeah.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I heard it's cool. Have you been on a horse, Ajay?

Ajay Gupta: I actually have. I had a... Call it a traumatic experience.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh geez.

Claudia Lee: Poor thing.

Ajay Gupta: I was eight, and there's a temple in India, and I think now they have other ways of getting there, but it was really kind of the only way of getting there. It's top of a mountain, and you had to get on a horse. So I'd never rode a horse before, and I guess the horses have kind of a leader in that defined area. So I ended up being on the front horse that was the leader. So the horse is kind of running up the hill, and it's on the edge. So I can see, looking down, if the horse slipped, it would be the end of me and the owner of the horses is like," Well, the horse cares about its life too, so you don't have anything to worry about, so."

Vincent Pietrafesa: Wow.

Claudia Lee: But you are eight. So yeah, I see that being extremely scary. Whether yeah, you don't have to be eight to be scared.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I'm not getting on the horse. Yeah. Well, forget it now. I'm not going on it. Yeah crosstalk story Ajay. No, I'm kidding.

Claudia Lee: I highly recommend a visit. Horses are like dogs, but they're bigger. They're super warm, and have lots of personality, and they're really cool animals. I highly recommend it.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome. Yeah. No, thank you for sharing that story. When you told me that, cause I knew you were from the city originally. I knew you were from Pittsburgh. And then when you told me that story, I'm like, that is interesting. Especially for this New York city kid, myself kid. Who am I kidding, I'm in my forties, but it's fascinating to hear, so thank you for sharing that. Thank you for sharing the Nutanix story. We really love what you're doing. Own the Future; listen. Go to Nutanix. Check them out. Go to Claudia, but make sure you get her company right on LinkedIn if you're going to reach out to her. Claudia, this has been amazing. Thank you so much for spending time. That is the Vice President of Partner Marketing at Nutanix, Claudia Lee. I'm Vincent Pietrafesa, that's Ajay Gupta. This has been The Marketing Stir. Thank you so much for listening. We'll talk to you soon.

Vin Lapsley: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista. Please Like, Rate, and Subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at themarketingstir @ stirista. com. And thanks for listening.


Vincent and Ajay chat with Claudia Lee, VP of Partner Marketing, at Nutanix. She talks about hyper converged infrastructure and how the company simplifies the use of complex IT for customers. Vincent's son develops ninja skills, and Ajay takes off to Miami.

Today's Host

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Vincent Pietrafesa

|Vice President, B2B Products, Stirista
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Ajay Gupta

|Founder & CEO, Stirista

Today's Guests

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Claudia Lee

|VP of Partner Marketing, Nutanix
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