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In this episode of Channel Insider: Partner POV, host Katie Bavoso speaks with Terry Richardson, Blue Mantis’s chief revenue officer. They delve into Richardson’s transition from a vendor executive to his current role, exploring his unique perspective on vendor partnerships and his strategic approach to business leadership.

Transition from vendor executive to solution provider leader

In Part 1 of the interview, Richardson reflects on his first year as the CRO of Blue Mantis, highlighting the rapid pace and the new challenges he has encountered. Having spent decades on the vendor side of the channel, his shift to a solution provider role has been both fascinating and educational. This switch has given him a fresh perspective on solution providers’ unique difficulties.

He affirms, “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve done a lot over my time in the industry. And this is a nice way to kind of bring it all together.”

Richardson’s extensive background with prominent vendors allows him to infuse Blue Mantis with new strategies and insights. For instance, his experience at AMD and HP has equipped him with best practices on leading a sales organization and developing go-to-market strategies.

Listen to Part 1 of the podcast:

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The importance of intentional vendor partnerships

Richardson places high value on the need for intentionality when looking for vendor partnerships. “To be a really good partner, we have to be intentional,” he explains. This means focusing on well-defined plans, co-investment, and strong relationships at all levels.

Richardson also highlights the challenge of maintaining focus in a sales environment with numerous potential solutions.

“So you’re vying for the attention of the solution provider because there’s multiple solutions that the field has to know and has to be able to position to their customers. And it can be cybersecurity in the morning, network related during lunchtime, and then maybe cloud related in the afternoon,” Richardson notes. “And the sales team jumps from topic to topic. So it’s hard to get locked in. So being intentional is what I’m trying to bring in terms of Blue Mantis. We could sell anything, right?”

The lesson here is clear: Intentionality and focus are essential for building strong vendor relationships and achieving business goals.

Blue Mantis: Evolution and rebranding

Blue Mantis, formerly known as GreenPages, underwent a significant rebranding about a year ago. Richardson joined the company two months before this change, offering him a unique vantage point to witness and influence the transformation. “It was really an opportunity to redefine the company,” he says.

Richardson describes it as “almost like a restart” with the excitement of something new while leveraging 30 years of history. This fresh identity has enabled Blue Mantis to reconnect with its existing customers and attract new ones, showcasing its modern capabilities and forward-looking approach.

Building and strengthening trust with customers

Building and maintaining customer trust is a cornerstone of Blue Mantis’s strategy. Richardson underscores the importance of trust in customer relationships. “We don’t take lightly the role of trusted advisor, but we aspire to live up to that in each and every customer engagement,” he says.

Blue Mantis has long-standing relationships with many of its customers, some dating back to its origins as GreenPages. This trust is earned through reliable managed services and expert guidance, particularly in critical areas like cybersecurity and managed services.

Going beyond customer expectations and proactively offering solutions helps Blue Mantis solidify its position as a trusted advisor. This proactive stance addresses customers’ current needs and helps them anticipate future challenges, strengthening customer loyalty and trust.

How to make customers for life

In the second part of the interview, the conversation highlights Blue Mantis’ approach to maintaining lifelong customer relationships, responding to emerging tech trends, and the critical importance of investing in people and partnerships.

Listen to Part 2 of the podcast:

Watch the Part 2 video:

Understanding the customer-for-life strategy

“Customer for life” is a guiding principle for Richardson. This philosophy drives his approach to client relationships, ensuring he continuously adds value to clients. According to Richardson, the key to achieving this lies in intimately understanding the customer’s business and proactively offering solutions that align with their strategic goals.

Richardson stresses maintaining long-term relationships requires consistent effort and a deep commitment to client success. By prioritizing customer satisfaction and trust, Blue Mantis secures ongoing business and also earns invaluable feedback that helps improve their services.

Addressing cybersecurity and tech trends

When Bavoso asks about customers’ most pressing demands in 2024, Richardson highlights several key trends. He explains that artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud cost optimization are at the forefront of customer concerns. Companies are eager to leverage AI technologies like Microsoft Copilot but are equally concerned about doing so securely.

Richardson shares, “The state of the world has made ransomware attacks and malicious behavior more rampant. Security remains top of mind.” He also mentions that cloud conversations have shifted from rapid migration to cost control, indicating a maturity in how businesses use cloud services. Blue Mantis has responded by focusing on cost optimization and resource management to help clients navigate these challenges.

Resource management and talent gaps

In response to Bavoso’s inquiry about outsourcing, Richardson explains that many companies face challenges hiring top talent due to budget constraints or skill shortages. Blue Mantis addresses this by offering resource management services and providing clients with access to skilled professionals on an as-needed basis. This helps businesses achieve their goals without the financial burden of full-time hires.

Richardson highlights the proactive nature of their service offerings, stating, “Instead of doing this on a reactive basis, we actually think there’s a great market need.” By identifying and filling talent gaps, Blue Mantis helps its clients enhance their capabilities and improve productivity.

Success story: Aspire Health Alliance

Richardson shares a success story involving Aspire Health Alliance, a long-term client of Blue Mantis. Initially approached for managed services, Blue Mantis has expanded its support over the years to include cybersecurity, network re-architecture, and strategic projects. “It’s a success story because we’ve been able to continue to add value in new and different ways,” says Richardson.

He explains that while vendors often face turnovers disrupting client relationships, solution providers like Blue Mantis maintain consistent and deep connections. “When you do it right, it becomes magical. You really get to know the customer,” he asserts.

Career advice: The importance of relationships

In response to Bavoso’s admiration for his career, Richardson offers sage advice for aspiring leaders: “Pay attention to relationships because they matter.” He stresses that professional relationships built on trust and mutual respect can open doors to future opportunities. Richardson shares, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”

This principle has guided his interactions and helped him build a network of trusted colleagues and partners. His wisdom reminds us that career success is built on the foundation of strong, positive relationships. Emerging leaders can pave the way for enduring professional achievements by prioritizing people and fostering a collaborative environment.

Tune in to the video or podcast above for more insights from Katie Bavoso and Terry Richardson, Blue Mantis’s chief revenue officer. Don’t miss upcoming episodes of Channel Insider: Partner POV on YouTube or your podcasting platform of choice for more industry insights and expert interviews. Like, follow, and subscribe to stay informed!

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