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By Steven Burke, on CRN.com March 12, 2018

Apple has hired Robert Ochoa, formerly a senior director of channel sales in the Western region for Oracle, as part of a drive to grow its enterprise sales footprint, sources said.

Ochoa, who more than doubled the size of the Oracle channel business in the West, is taking a job overseeing Apple sales for several large national solution providers including Zones, PCM and Insight, sources said.

The hire comes as Apple is beefing up its B2B channel sales team including a search for a U.S. Business Channel Development Lead, according to a LinkedIn job posting. The job description for that position requires the new hire to “build a plan and strategy to activate prioritized channels and recruit identified partners (VAR, MSP, Solution Provider).”

Apple, Cupertino, Calif., is also in the midst of hiring a Senior Financial Analyst, Worldwide Channel Terms and a Senior Business Analyst, Worldwide Channel Sales, according to LinkedIn job postings.

“Apple wants more out of partners and they are putting good people into channel positions,” said one source close to Apple. “Ochoa is a great hire. He has enterprise sales experience in those channel accounts and is now overseeing partners that do more than $1 billion in Apple sales. Apple has a big business with these partners and wants to make it even bigger. I think we are going to hear more and more from Apple with regard to channel investments.”

Ochoa, a six-year Oracle veteran, could not be reached for comment.

Apple did not return an email and phone call to inquire about Ochoa’s appointment.

Oracle would not comment.

Before taking the Oracle job, Ochoa was national partner business manager for Hewlett Packard overseeing national partners like PCM and Zones.

One national solution provider sales executive, who did not want to be identified, said Apple is investing heavily to become a bigger force in the enterprise market.

“Apple is trying to become more relevant in the enterprise and they need the channel to get there,” said the source. “The problem with Apple is they have never had an enterprise-oriented sales culture. They are trying to build that.”

Apple has been steadily building its enterprise sales charge over the past several years. In 2015, Apple began slowly building that enterprise sales organization as part of a pact to optimize Cisco networks for Apple iOS devices and apps.

“Apple’s go-to-market is first, the Apple Store; second, the carriers; and the channel is a distant third — but they are trying to change that and they are making steps in the direction of the channel,” said another solution provider sales source.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based Future Tech, an Apple partner focused on the Fortune 1000 market, said he has advocated for many years that Apple needs to take a more “channel friendly” approach to grab a bigger share of the enterprise market.

“I have watched and hoped for years that Apple would take a much more lucrative and partner-friendly approach to growing its business in corporate America, where they are on the fringe,” he said. “The problem is they don’t have a true partner-focused model that rewards the channel for driving Apple business into the Fortune 100.”

Venero said from his vantage point Apple CEO Tim Cook and his team need to sit down with partners like Future Tech and get some no-nonsense guidance on how Apple can “infiltrate and penetrate” corporate America.

“They need to engage in a way that rewards partners like us that can help them take that step forward,” he said. “When you look at Future Tech and our Fortune 100 client base, I would love an opportunity to sit down with Tim Cook and tell him what would help drive additional penetration for Apple in the enterprise market.”