Palo Alto Networks Sales SVP To Retire, Will Be Replaced By Salesforce EVP

Palo Alto Networks Senior Vice President of Americas Sales John Spiliotis is planning to retire from the Santa Clara, Calif.-based security vendor, sources told CRN.

Spiliotis will be replaced by Patrick Blair, the sources said. Blair currently serves as executive vice president for Salesforce.com. Blair is on site at the Palo Alto Networks Sales Kick Off in Las Vegas, Nevada this week, one source said, and his appointment was announced at the event.

Palo Alto Networks confirmed Spiliotis' retirement from the company in an email to CRN.

[Related: Palo Alto Networks Overhauls Sales Strategy, CEO Says Channel Partners Not Affected]

"We can confirm that John Spiliotis is retiring and we thank him for his tremendous service to our company," Dave Peranich, executive vice president, worldwide sales at Palo Alto Networks, said in a statement to CRN. CRN reached out to Spiliotis directly but did not receive a reply.

Palo Alto Networks also confirmed Blair's appointment as senior vice president and general manager of Americas sales.

"With his experience in several sales leadership roles at Salesforce, where he led their largest and fastest growing business unit, Patrick brings to our team a wealth of sales expertise and proven success delivering market-leading results. He will add to the tremendous bench strength of our current sales organization and play a key role in scaling and inspiring our Americas sales organization to reach audacious goals and the next big milestones in our company journey," Peranich said in a statement.  

Spiliotis' departure comes just a few months after Palo Alto Networks took an earnings hit from sales execution issues that resulted in a "disappointing" sales performance. CEO Mark McLaughlin said at the time that the problems occurred in all regions, but the impact from Americas sales stumbles was particularly strong as that region accounts for a significant percentage of the company's overall business.

The go-to-market problems stemmed from the company's sales playbook, which McLaughlin said has driven high growth in years past, but no longer sees the same return on investment. The playbook had the company splitting territories vertically and by customer size, as well as investing in sales and marketing. McLaughlin said those changes occurred too quickly, over-complicating the go-to-market strategy and leading to weaker relationships with customers.

Palo Alto Networks has since worked to "recalibrate" its sales go-to-market by reorganizing its account coverage model, retooling its sales and marketing resources and updating its second half revenue expectations. The company said it expected to see the effects in the second half of 2017, and said in its most recent earnings call that the reorganization was "on track."

Spiliotis has been with Palo Alto Networks since April 2013. He joined the telecom vendor from Avaya, where he was vice president. He has also held executive leadership positions with Ericsson, Redback Networks, Extreme Networks and Cisco.

Blair has been at Salesforce.com since 2007, most recently serving as executive vice president, according to his LinkedIn profile. He has also held roles at the company as senior vice president of commercial sales and senior area vice president of sales. Blair has also held sales leadership roles at Covad Communications.

Partners said they had felt the effects of the recent sales reorganization and turnover in the Palo Alto Networks sales ranks in the past few months. One partner executive, who did not want to be identified, said the technology remains competitive, but the company has faltered recently when it comes to sales.

"I absolutely love their platform … They're probably set up well with the market of information security products. But, I can tell you for a while as a partner the sales team was weak and not as collaborative as they could be," the partner executive said.

The partner did not attribute the challenges to Spiliotis, but did say they hoped the recent broader reorganization would ultimately lead to a better sales strategy overall and collaboration with partners.

"I hope this change is positive," the partner executive said of the reorganization. "I hope that they focus more on partners that really focus on helping clients and CISOs gain more of a competitive advantage in competitive environments and enable and protect the business."

 

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