When Comstor was named Distributor of the Year for the UK, Netherlands, Denmark and MEA at Cisco’s annual partner conference, it was recognition and reward for all the hard work and commitment Comstor has made over the last 12 months to Cisco and the channel. We asked the winning team leaders why they won, and what the awards mean to them.

What do these awards mean to you?

Renton D’Souza, Divisional Director, Middle East: Being awarded the MEA distributor of the year is testament to the strength of both our people and the investments we have made in our digital tools and systems. There is only one award for distribution across the whole MEA region, so it’s a huge win. It’s a tremendous achievement, especially as it’s the first time we’ve won it. It’s been a long journey these past four years during which we have invested heavily in systems to prepare us for the next decade. Some of those changes were challenging and disruptive internally, but we are now seeing the results of all of this hard work. This recognition is the culmination of this four-year journey. The fact that we have won it in one of the most difficult years in memory only makes it sweeter.

Patrick Govers, MD Comstor Benelux: It’s recognition from Cisco that we are doing the right things and executing on our joint initiatives. It’s testament to the hard work and commitment of our teams to the vendor and the channel. Winning gives a confidence boost to the team and there’s a spin off for our partners – they know they’re working with the best Cisco Distributor in the Netherlands! 

Raymond Lindquist, Sales Manager, Comstor Nordics: Winning the Cisco Distributor of the Year EMEAR – North award in our first year of business means a lot to us. It’s recognition of the commitment of our entire team and the enormous amount of hard work, dedication and passion it has taken to get this far in one year. We are extremely proud of the award.

In your opinion, why do you think your team won?

Renton: In the past 18 months we have heavily invested in setting up entities across the Gulf. Our entities in Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, along with in-country resources, really helped us gain traction in these markets. We have seen explosive growth as a result of these investments. Additionally, our focus on key-market segments such as SMB and commercial ensured our business had healthy run-rate and great new partner recruitment. We also aligned to Cisco’s priorities in region and worked well as a team alongside their Account Managers and PAM’s to complement and support their efforts in the channel.

Patrick: I think we received this award for several various reasons. We grow year over year, especially in growth areas such as security. We’re proud to be a true extension of Cisco, working closely with partners to build a profitable and sustainable Cisco business. We’re not only the largest Cisco-exclusive distributor, we also have the most Cisco-trained and certified experts in the channel. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have collaborated closely as a team to support the channel, offering flexible financing to support businesses, and creating new sales initiatives for our internal and external account managers and BDMs. So our customers get an exceptional customer experience from Comstor Netherlands.

Raymond: There is no doubt in my mind that teamwork is the essence of our success. Not just within the sales team but with marketing, our colleagues and management in the Nordics, and the rest of Westcon-Comstor. We have a very good relationship with other areas of our business and the entire Danish Cisco organisation. They have been a tremendous help to us this past year. Last but not least we have very strong partnerships with our partners. They trust and rely on us, and we go to great lengths to exceed their expectations. Loyal partners and a highly skilled and dedicated team is the key to our success.

Reflecting back on 2020, what were your highlights?

Renton: Our continued investments in our digital platforms, the ability to drive software distribution, and our focus on renewals and recurring offers are testament to our innovation. We do this while simultaneously delivering on excellence in execution through accurate forecasting, meeting our weekly commitments and driving Cisco priorities in the region. This ability to ‘perform and transform’ has been the highlight of the year for me and the team.

Patrick: Our aim this year has been to help partners through extremely difficult circumstances, so we are all in a good place to grow and thrive together as the market recovers. So one highlight is our Stay Safe, Stay Connected campaign, launched at the start of the pandemic. Under the guidance of our central team, we were able offer advice and solution offerings to the channel, including flexible financing options to help businesses continue to operate during the pandemic, and get the most value out of their Cisco solutions.

Raymond: We have had some great wins this year, but what made the greatest impression is the work ethic and commitment the entire Westcon-Comstor team have shown during the pandemic. Never losing sight of our goal, despite the disruption and uncertainty. We have fantastic support from our leadership team and our colleagues in marketing, such as the enormous effort to pivot from physical to virtual events, internally and externally, so we could continue to support Cisco and our partners, and stay focused and motivated. On a more basic level, reaching our targets and meeting the expectations of both Comstor and Cisco was a major highlight!

What does the event theme of “Future Ready” mean to you?

Renton: As we see it, 2021 will be a year of disruption and opportunity. The consumption model for IT will change and networks will have to be redesigned. Security will be key as will the ability to work flexibly. Cisco is well positioned thanks to its vast portfolio of solutions that could really capture the opportunity ahead. Our job as the Cisco partner is to be primed and ready and to lead the change.

Patrick: Future ready means not just selling products but selling solutions. More importantly, solutions which can be purchased by end users by subscription and consumption. With MSLA, Mentor and other programmes and tools that we provide, we are preparing our partners for this future. We believe we have the best offer in the market, designed to ensure we become futureproof together.

Raymond: Agility, agility, agility. If there is one thing to take away from 2020, it must be that agility is everything. We have no idea what the future hold – less so than ever before. COVID-19 has taught us that if nothing else. Never before have we faced so much uncertainty and change. Couple this with end users’ evolving needs, new ways of working and the growing adoption of cloud, recurring offers and security, and you can appreciate the significance of what ‘future ready’ means – preparing our partners to grow and thrive in 2021 and beyond.

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