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Big Switch Goes 'Defensive' With New Sales Boss

Ex-Gigamon sales VP Mike Hoffman specializes in customer 'land and expand.'

Mitch Wagner

June 13, 2016

2 Min Read
Big Switch Goes 'Defensive' With New Sales Boss

SDN pioneer Big Switch Networks has named Gigamon veteran Mike Hoffman to head worldwide sales. Hoffman brings expertise in "defensive sales" to Big Switch, say his champions within the company.

Defensive sales involves focusing on existing customers with post-sales follow-up, ensuring customer satisfaction and providing support. Satisfied customers come back for additional sales, and they bring their friends. Defensive sales contrasts with traditional, offensive sales, which focuses efforts on landing new customers.

That "land and expand" model is particularly well-suited to Big Switch Networks , where initial sales are often $40,000, but customers can later extend that sale to $1 million or more, CEO Douglas Murray tells Light Reading.

"Instead of going after whales -- the $4 million to $5 million sale -- defensive sales is looking at the customer base, getting that initial insertion and using it as a beachhead to expand into the customer environment," Murray says.

Hoffman brings competitive experience to Big Switch, having worked as VP of worldwide sales at Gigamon Systems LLC . Big Switch's Big Monitoring Fabric is an enterprise network packet broker that competes with Gigamon.

At Gigamon, Hoffman helped increase revenue from $20 million to $140 million and positioned the company for its 2013 IPO. Big Switch is going through its own period of growth, claiming 300% expansion in 2015. (See CEO Chat With Gigamon's Paul Hooper.)

Big Switch's previous top sales guy was Shaun Page, formerly of Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) -- Murray's previous employer -- who was hired as VP of worldwide sales in April, 2014. According to Page's LinkedIn profile, he left to join F5 Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: FFIV), heading up service provider sales, last month. (See Big Switch Poaches Sales VP From Juniper.)

Want to know more about the cloud? Visit Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.

Founded in 2010, Big Switch specializes in "bare metal" SDN, serving enterprises and service providers that are migrating to cloud applications and seeking to emulate the agility and flexibility of hyperscale cloud providers such as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Facebook . (See Big Switch: Networking Will Dance to Hypercloud Tune Next Year.)

In addition to Big Monitoring Fabric, Big Switch's other product is the Big Cloud Fabric, providing a networking layer to support VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) and OpenStack cloud workloads.

Big Switch announced a $48.5 million series C funding round in January, for a total $94 million since the company was founded in 2010. (See SDN Startup Big Switch Lands $48.5M Funding.)

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor, Light Reading Enterprise Cloud.

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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