Name: Sandi Stambaugh
Position: Vice President, Product Management
SCN: How long have you been in your role at Synnex, and how has your background prepared you for the role?
Sandi Stambaugh: I’ve been with Synnex for 15 years, 11 in this role. Starting out, I was in sales and migrated into a business development role, and then product management. Being able to build on that experience—and see all aspects of the business—has helped me very much to understand the customers’ perspective, what they’re trying to do in the market, and then helped us to build their perspective and vendor perspectives. It has really helped me approach the market with a different mindset and a different perspective. It’s a relationship business, so seeking customers out and finding mentors is something that is impactful and helps me mold the direction we’re going.
SCN: How do you navigate relationships with such a large number of employees and customers?
SS: There’s so much going on with Synnex—it’s exciting to be able to leverage this big engine in this big company with all the capabilities and all of the operational efficiencies. Value-added distribution is a segment of our business, which allows us to be more individualized. People aren’t just a number to me—it’s not the way we operate. It’s personal to us.
SCN: How do you view the current AV/IT landscape? Is it still AV versus IT, or are integrators and IT professionals playing better together in the proverbial sandbox?
SS: Years ago, we heard IT was going to take over the world and IT felt the same about AV professionals. It’s really fun because I sit in an interesting spot as I’m involved in both and see a lot of cooperation.
We’re matchmakers—we match AV and IT customers for opportunities. We’ve seen some IT integrators hire, acquire, and expand their offering to include some visual tech. And the same goes for AV when it comes to including networking and IT, but it’s limited—a small percentage. The vast majority is partnering and aligning. At first, there was a feeling that everyone had to be experts on everything, and then reality set in and that’s not possible. Integration and IT firms can diversify a bit, but, at the end of the day, the customer expects experts and you can’t be all things to all people.
SCN: What are the major challenges and rewards of mating AV and IT?
SS: It’s vetting them out—making sure the partner you’re aligning with is technology capable with certifications. Beyond that, it’s relationships; you have to make sure your partner’s approach to customers is the same as yours, and they’re going to be treated well—you need someone who will commit to being there and being available for the customer. Your partners are still a representation of you and your technology and they need to be capable. The human element helps to get repeat business—it’s expensive to get new business all the time.
SCN: Big data is a big trend in the AV space. What role does it play in your customers’ integrations?
SS: We’re using it to help our customers; we’re data centric. When customers buy from us, we use our data to help them: this is what your vertical concentration looks like, this is where you’re selling best, etc. Being able to steer business on what our customers are selling helps them acquire new technology in new markets.
We use our RenewSolv Platform to help our customers track their data. If something has a three-year warranty, I’m reaching out to that integrator in two years and nine months to help them sell a new or updated system. I want to help customers be stickier with their customers, the end users. By leveraging data, Synnex is helping integrators obtain repeat business.
SCN: What are your thoughts on AV-as-a-Service (AVaaS)?
SS: AVaaS is an area where Synnex is expanding to help our customers. Moving from capital expenses to operational expenses and being able to manage that through monthly recurring payments is a challenge to our integrators. That’s an issue that we’ve been able to solve for our resellers as a part of our CloudSolv Platform which is designed to help foster collaboration opportunities between those resellers and our vendors. We want to help them drive sustainable profits through market growth and traction.
SCN: What is the biggest challenge you see in the pro AV industry today?
SS: The human element. People are having a hard time finding good people, and it’s an ongoing problem. Training, onboarding, and service are important. Synnex is trying to help with training for customers; we work with integrators to perfect tech and sales practices for their new sales people.
Professional development is so important to selling tech. We don’t do enough training with end customers. When product training with end users accompanies new technology, the chances of expanding to include more rooms are significant because the users understand the technology and it’s a quick process. Teaching them to use it isn’t a competitive thing—it’s an added service.
SCN: How does it feel to be named to CRN's 2018 Women of the Channel list?
SS: There is such an awesome community of lady leaders in the channel, and it’s an honor to be a part of that group, which included nine winners from Synnex. I enjoy networking with the other leaders on the list who are running large businesses and making strategic decisions—I’m pleased a part of that prestigious community.