Q&A: Pierre-Paul Allard, Avaya's New Head of Sales

Pierre-Paul Allard has been Avaya’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development & Strategy and Marketing since joining a year ago. As of Wednesday July 10, Allard has added Worldwide Sales and Field Operations to his responsibilities, taking over from Tom Mitchell, who will stay on until September to ease the transition.

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A 19-year veteran of Cisco Systems, Allard formerly headed sales and operations for Cisco’s $2.5 billion global enterprise division. He also served as President of Cisco Systems Canada, where he helped build that subsidiary into a $1-billion-plus a year operation. A collegiate hockey player at the University of Ottawa, where he graduated with an Honors degree in Finance, Allard also spent 11 years in various management roles at IBM. 

I’ve had the pleasure of working with Allard, known as PPA to all of us around the office, since November and s01at down with him in our Santa Clara, CA, headquarters to discuss the announcement (see the video snippet with PPA lower down, too).

What is the immediate impact of your new role?

We’ve been on a path to drive Avaya to growth and revenue. This is in the same vein. The idea now is to combine all aspects of strategy, marketing, alliances, channel and sales so that we have one strategic motion for our customers. 

In your opinion, what are Avaya’s strengths today? 

Over the past year I’ve had a chance to dabble in all aspects of Avaya’s business. It’s given me good visibility into the potential this company has, and let me tell you, it is tremendous. The product portfolio has never been stronger than it is now under Gary Barnett’s leadership. He has been able to bring solutions to market that start from really-small customers to the largest contact centers in the world with more than 100,000 agents. So when you think of Avaya, you think of quality, and you also think of scale. 

What is our strategy for capitalizing on these strengths?

First is the way we continue to fine-tune how our products and solutions delivered to different market segments. This is another way of saying, “I understand my customer and I’m aligning to their needs.” It means we don’t try to treat everyone the same. That’s exciting, because it lets us drive a real value-based proposition for every single customer.

Enterprise is where we were born. As I noted earlier, that allows us to run the largest contact centers in the world, as well as some of the largest users of UC and IP telephony. But now as we gravitate downstream into the mid-market, we’re finding all kinds of opportunities through our new solution sets like IP Office and other bundles. We are bringing the same enterprise strength down to the mid-market.

This is exciting because this is the segment of the market that is growing the fastest. And we’re a player in that. We have been for the last 18 months when we expanded the reach of IP Office to handle up to 1,000 users, and we’re gaining market share every day. We’re not No. 2 or No. 3 here. We are the dominant player in that space.

Also…

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Watch the clip at Avaya’s Youtube channel.

You had long stints at Cisco and IBM. How did those positions prepare you for your new role?

They taught me the ability to drive a multi-threaded sales strategy, from the mid-market, small business, large enterprise, service providers, and channels.  I also learned the ability to lead a country-level organization, from top-to-bottom. In Canada for Cisco, I turned a small entity into a billion-dollar enterprise.

My experience with IBM brought me an understanding of verticalization and how you can better serve your customer needs through proper segmentation. Think of the requirements for Bank of Walnut Creek versus Bank of America. Think of the importance of technology to the retail industry and how they uniquely use it to gain a competitive advantage. That’s the sort of strategy I’ve been able to nurture over the years, and that’s what I bring to Avaya now.

Avaya relies almost completely on our partner ecosystem. Will that change?

Our indirect sales have grown to close to 80% of our revenues.  So yes, virtually all of our business flows through channels. But we use different ways of engaging our customers depending on their size.  Obviously we have a higher touch in the large enterprise. Our customers there demand that. But, and this is key, fulfillment flows through partners and integrators.  As you go down market, partners are the leads for us into the accounts. The channel also fulfills with the right solutions. There’s no way without a strong partner strategy that you can reach all of the customers we’ve been talking about. Partners are key to our success.

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