Paige Johnson-Hinckley, Senior Director of Global Alliances and GTM at Qumulo, on How Cloud Marketers Can Win with Data

In this episode, our guest is Paige Johnson-Hinckley, Senior Director of Global Alliances and Go-to-Market at Qumulo, a data storage company. Paige is a strategic alliances executive with 20+ years of experience managing partner marketing programs, budgets, product launches, sales opportunity creation, and much more.

She was also recently named one of Intricately's 75 Cloud Revenue Influencers to Follow.

ull Transcript

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:09] Hello, everyone, and welcome to Selling in the Cloud, a podcast about the business of cloud sales and marketing brought to you by Intricately, the authoritative source of digital product adoption, usage, and spend data for cloud sales and marketing teams. I'm Sarah E. Brown and I'm here with Michael Pollack. And we are your co-hosts. Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael Pollack [00:00:40] Sarah, it's great to be here with you today.

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:42] In this episode, we're speaking with Paige Johnson-Hinckley, Senior Director of Global Alliances and Go-to-Market at Qumulo. We're looking forward to diving into how cloud marketers can win by using data. Shall we dive in?

Michael Pollack [00:00:55] Let's do it. Paige, welcome to the show.

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:00:57] Thank you so much for having me today.

Sarah E. Brown [00:00:59] Can you give us a brief introduction and share who you are and a brief background for how you got to be where you are today at Qumulo and maybe a bit about what you're working on at Qumulo?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:01:08] Yeah, sure thing. So I have had great twenty five years in high tech, actually started out in advertising, believe it or not, doing advertising and marketing for a telecom startup right out of college. And that company actually got acquired by Verizon Wireless, which was a really kind of neat way, I guess, to dip my toe into technology and from there just kind of took off and ended up moving over to Dell and ran their SMB advertising department and then got into product management. At Dell, back when laptops were becoming a thing, moving from the desktop to a laptop. And then from there, I got involved in a lot of partners and took my experiences over to HP when they were really competing for market share and the personal computing division in the U.S. So had a great ride there in the Merker days at HP, went over to VMware, where I really expanded into more global types of go to market, including managing a lot of the Japanese partners, as well as Dell, their largest global partner, then jumped over to AWS, where I put together the first marketing portal for US Partners, took their Global Partners Summit international, about twenty five cities internationally, and then ended up working, leading go-to-market for the GSI Partners, which are some of the very strategic companies like Accenture and Deloitte, and then finally got to Qumulo. I really wanted to go back to the startup where it all began and at Qumulo, I am now running alliances for both the cloud businesses as well as the technology alliances. So getting to work with a lot of ISVs, as well as some of my old friends at AWS and new friends that I'm meeting at Azure.

Michael Pollack [00:02:59] I love that background. And I think for our audience, it's illustrative to some extent of that evolution of the computing space. Right. When you look at the transition from companies that were at the bleeding edge of enterprise computing, selling infrastructure, hardware desktops and PCs and laptops, I guess you look at today and you look at the rise of cloud computing, it's pretty interesting to watch that evolution. Right. And it's kind of funny to think all the way back to enterprises or really mainframe computing. And today the cloud is a much better version of that. But I'd love to unpack a little bit kind of your time at cumulating in particular and what your team is focused on it. Really, maybe if you could talk to a little bit about how Qumulo in particular is competing a little bit differently in the space or why the product is so unique or so differentiated than what's out there today?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:03:48] Absolutely. So the team that I'm on, as I've mentioned, we are responsible for the alliances. And so what we're really doing is looking into the tech ecosystem and deciding who we want to partner with to bring cloud solutions to the market. So we just actually introduced a new solution called Qumulo Studio Q. And that was actually a solution that we worked with AWS, Terra, Adobe, and some others on to really help the editorial space. So when COVID happened, a lot of editors were actually working on movies and animation and things from their homes, and so they needed a remote studio to be able to do that. So that was kind of one of the use cases that we've been working on and in the media and entertainment area, that's really brought together a lot of different partners to the table to solve some of these unique situations that we find ourselves in in these different times. And to answer your question about Qumulo in particular, you know, one of the key differentiators, believe it or not, is our customer service. So we have a very unique customer service offering where we do all of our servicing of our customers through slack. And so with that, we are able to give instantaneous information and answers to our customers and they just love it getting that immediate response time. And we actually just ran a net promoter score survey, which we do every quarter. And our NPS scores were unbelievable. Over the last four quarters, we've actually scored an 88 or above across all of our customer set. And in the cloud, cloud-specific customers, we achieved a 100 net promoter score in Q1 for cloud, which is absolutely unheard of in the industry. So I would say, you know, our customer service definitely sets us apart. But from a technology standpoint, the ability for Qumulo really going over and solving for very large amounts of data we're talking in the petabyte range is really where we answer the customers demand. So think of those large enterprises that have, you know, large amounts of unstructured data up into the petabyte scale. Qumulo is really the answer for these types of enterprise customers and this is across industries. So could be M&E, health care, life sciences. We've seen a large demand recently for genomics and also research. So really we were seeing a lot of demand from areas that, quite frankly, we didn't expect. But during COVID, we saw a big demand in health care and genomics.

Michael Pollack [00:06:40] You know, there's a number of follow up questions I have here. But I want to go back to a point you made in particular that I think probably pretty interesting for your audience when you talk to the CEO or the customer support running on top of Slack. Can you just share a little bit about how that works maybe for our audience, how many customers you're talking about and how many humans you have to staff on your side to do that? Because obviously our business, we run on Slack, but the notion of being totally customer focused there seems like it's a huge amount of effort potentially. If you can share a little bit, I just want to know how you guys scale that, how you make that work.

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:07:14] So our CS team actually sits under our engineering team, so they're closely tied at the hip and it's all internal employees. And so we have a complete customer service department internally and we service multiple geos. So we have customers worldwide that we're able to serve, but we really scale with our customer demand. So as our company is growing, we're constantly adding additional customer support, but they're very skilled in all aspects of our product and our services. So they learn all about how Qumulo's loads of final data platform and then they learn about all of our software offerings and our services. So we have seven data services across our line. And as I mentioned, we're developing new solutions, too. So they're deeply skilled and deeply knowledgeable to answer questions from customers across our range of products and services.

Michael Pollack [00:08:11] And I'm curious, I can imagine there's lots of training going on there, but on a given day, how many messages? I'm just trying to imagine the response time and scaling that it just takes somebody shares all these stats, but it's a surprisingly staggeringly large amount of messages. Maybe the traffic lower than I would guess, buy can you comment on that at all? Just curious.

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:08:30] Sure. I would say, you know, it's a pretty even amount of messages. We do see peaks and valleys, you know, over different types of customers, depending on, you know, if they're legacy customer with us or not. Obviously, over time, as they're more familiar with our product and services, the number of questions we get decreases. So I'd say when we have a large influx of new customers, that's when we see the highest demand. But again, we kind of stuff to the demand. And I can't really release any numbers, unfortunately, to the public now. But I would say, you know, there is an ebb and flow of questions coming to really twenty four, seven. And we do have staff to be able to answer questions according to the time zone where they're based.

Sarah E. Brown [00:09:14] That's fantastic. So going back to go-to-market and your incredibly impressive career, particularly in the alliances space, would love to hear your advice to cloud companies who are thinking of growing or using alliances to grow their revenue. What advice would you give to those companies?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:09:32] You know, I would say it kind of goes back to first analyzing the data in your space and informing your decisions from there. So by looking at, you know, where the trends are in the market first, of course, and where the market growth opportunities are and then going to the customer understanding what their needs are in that space, you're able to analyze, you know, what are the best partners for your business in that given geography, in that given space and also looking for trends, just always staying on top of what's happening in your space. Who are the hot companies? What are the new solutions or services that tie into the use cases you're looking to develop and then kind of creating a map, if you will, of a wish list of of partners that you'd want to attach your brand with and then going out and having those authentic conversations with those on your list. Really, that's kind of how I attack it. They're always going to be some natural synergy. With companies also that might be, you know, not directly working, I'd say, in your product area, but they're just always appearing kind of in your landscape and sometimes it's good to partner with those companies as well as they can lend credibility. And your customers are hearing their brand name when they're doing their research. So it really just depends on what you're trying to achieve. If it's brand awareness, if it is, of course, driving revenue is what we all want. And then also gaining credibility for your brand if you're a smaller startup, these are all things that we kind of take into account as we make our partner ecosystem.

Michael Pollack [00:11:15] And when you're thinking about that partner ecosystem and maybe this question extends more to customers and particular prospects for their firm data attributes that you're looking for, for instance, when you're thinking about maybe again, it's more relevant to prospects than partners, but is it companies who are spending a certain amount of dollars on preexisting cloud infrastructure? Is it that they have a data center, that they have hybrid? Can you talk to a little bit about what the dream data piece of data is to figure out if somebody is a great fit for Qumulo?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:11:45] Yeah, I would say really now we're looking at customers that have been in traditional data centers that are actually looking to move to the cloud. So it's a lot of the big enterprises, right, that maybe want a hybrid footprint or they're ready to make the entire migration to the cloud. That's really the prime customer that we're targeting at this point in time. So it could be customers that are already existing customers to cloud companies that haven't, you know, picked a file storage company. So these are kind of different attributes we're looking for. Also, spend or potential spend in the cloud is definitely something we look at. And then also we slice it by industry. So media and entertainment, health care, life sciences, gaming is a new field that we're looking into as well for companies that have really large amounts of data that they need to store and or move or activate in the cloud. So that's really our sweet spot, is those companies that are looking to manage and deploy and activate large amounts of data. So does that answer your question?

Michael Pollack [00:13:00] It absolutely does. And for us, this is kind of what we focus on as we enable many of our customers with data like this. And so I'm curious, when you rattle off this wish list of data, is that things that today you guys overwhelmingly have a clear view into? And that's kind of how the decisions are being made. That's more of a wish list of, hey, we have some of these attributes, but not all of them. How would you characterize that?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:13:24] So I would say, you know, we definitely have a good starting point with our install base that has been more legacy on Prem that are now moving to the cloud. So we're able to kind of go back and have that story about, OK, you know, you've been a great Qumulo customer and some of them may want to move to the cloud. Some of them want a hybrid approach. But since we offer, you know, both on prem and cloud options, we can have that conversation with them. So that's a good starting point. Then from there, kind of growing into the industry approach, this is where we leverage a lot of our partners and talk about account mapping with existing customers they may have in those spaces, but we're then going out together as a complement. But then also we will work with third parties to help kind of round out our database of contacts, as well as look for the correct titles and some of the companies that we're targeting to help our sales teams. So first, I would say is looking at the data that we have internally, then working with our partners to enhance our targets and then finally looking to third parties to add additional details and gaps into our contact lists that we may not have internally.

Michael Pollack [00:14:44] That's very helpful. I appreciate that context. I guess maybe I'd ask kind of a continuing question, and that is a little bit about how does marketing and sales work together at Qumulo? And obviously, I imagine marketing is collecting some of this data sales needs to act on it. And maybe it's a two part question. I'd love to hear how that works accumulate. And then any advice you have for cloud marketing leaders who struggle with the challenge of aligning marketing and sales? Anything you can provide on either of those I think would be great for our audience.

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:15:13] So we are very fortunate that we have some amazing leaders that Qumulo, both our CMO and our CFO, are just fantastic leaders. They get along extremely well, which of course helps when they're aligning their teams. So they're aligned at the top, which everything kind of flows down right to the people that are executing. And the CMO, Sarah, her priorities are in direct alignment, and so their primary goal is pipeline to drive sales. So that is the number one kind of measurement tool that we're all working towards at the end of the day. Not only that, but our marketing team is aligned to the sales teams in the regions. And so they're able to talk with their regional sales managers, discuss account mapping, discuss account based marketing programs that may differ in the East than the West, for example, or from me to APJ to the US. And so I'd say mutually agreeing on the goals from the get go and having the buy in from upper management starting at the top and then holding their teams accountable to replicate that behavior in the field and mutually agreeing and driving to that pipeline and ultimately to the deal closing together as really how you have to run the operation in order for it to work seamlessly.

Sarah E. Brown [00:16:41] What's something you wish your prospects knew about you? Maybe if you're speaking to them right now through this podcast that you would like to tell them if they were listening?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:16:50] I would say, you know, one of the things that I've taken away from my career and I think what's driven me to this twenty five years plus and is always be willing to learn and don't be afraid to test what has happened or what you're working on and be willing to change to mix things up. For instance, if you're driving marketing, be on the lookout for what's really performing and being open and able to change things on the fly. So if you have something that's underperforming, not being afraid to try something different than maybe hasn't been done before. So you're constantly always monitoring your metrics and being able to shift and change on the spot. I think that's super important in any business to stay close to the data, be able to interpret it quickly, always learn from your mistakes, and don't be afraid to test or change things that they're not working.

Sarah E. Brown [00:17:51] That's fantastic. So for people who are listening, who'd like to learn more about you and your work, where should we direct them to?

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:17:58] Sure thing. You can look me up on LinkedIn listed as Paige Johnson Hinckley, or you can drop me a line at PHinkley at Qumulo dot com and I'd be happy to continue the conversation.

Sarah E. Brown [00:18:13] Fantastic. Thank you so much, Paige. Such a pleasure to have you on.

Paige Johnson-Hinckley [00:18:16] Thank you, Sarah. I really appreciate your time today.

Michael Pollack [00:18:19] That's it for us. While this episode may be over, we can continue the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #SellingInTheCloud. On Twitter, I'm @MRPollack.

Sarah E. Brown [00:18:29] And I'm @SEBMarketing.

Michael Pollack [00:18:30] Thanks to everyone for joining us for this episode of Selling in the Cloud, brought to you by Intricately, the authoritative source of digital product adoption, usage, and spend data for cloud sales and marketing teams. If you like the show, head on over to iTunes or wherever, you listen to podcasts, and please give us a review. We appreciate it. Until next time.

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