Enterasys Networks CEO Chris Crowell took over the company in 2009 after the untimely death of his predecessor Mike Fabiaschi—in the middle of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and just after the company entered into a major new strategic partnership. I spoke with Crowell about Enterasys’ strategy for competing against big brands such as Cisco, Hewlett-Packard and Juniper Networks.
Being Visible Takes Investment
Like many companies, Enterasys pulled back on discretionary spending during the recession. It focused on refreshing its products, “so that when the economy came back we were ready to take advantage of it,” Crowell said. But Enterasys needed to be more visible to customers and it has has since stepped up its investment in marketing. “We have to proactively go out and get our names in front of a lot of different people in a lot of different ways,” Crowell said, through trade shows, press and events.
Big Name Partners Help Get You Noticed
A partnership with Siemens Enterprise Communications has led to bigger opportunities. “Siemens is a well-known brand throughout the world—people are less concerned about the viability of the entity, so it’s brought strength.” Siemens has given Enterasys an entree into enterprises that use solutions from Enterasys competitors. It has also provided flexibility, Crowell said, for both companies to seek additional partnerships.
Know What Will Close the Sale
A company may differentiate itself in several ways, but one specific selling point may clinch the deal with customers. “I can list technical differentiators—there’s customer service differentiation, there’s value differentiation,” Crowell said. But “a key part of our sales cycle is demonstrating that our total cost of ownership is better than the next guy’s.”