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The Allbound Podcast #18: Never Leave a Partner Stranded with Wendell Black at Five9
March 6, 2017

Never Leave a Partner Stranded with Wendell Black at Five9


Wendell Black, Vice President of Channels for Five9, joins me, Jen Spencer to discuss creating the optimal team to compete and win with the partner, prioritizing your partner needs, and more on this episode of The Allbound Podcast.

Five9 has referral partners, system integrators, consultants, resellers, master agents. Is there a primary area of focus for growing that partner ecosystem in 2017 or are you going after everything all at once?

As much as I’d like to say we’re just going to do it all, Jen, I’ve been told that you can’t have more than three priorities or you don’t have really any. That said, Five9 is very focused in growing the book of business that we have in the master agent, sub agent community, and growing our reseller partnerships. These two areas generated a lot of growth capacity last year, and we’re looking to substantially grow our reach this year by continuing to focus on both of these channels to market. We’ve been very encouraged by the relationships that we’ve developed, and we look to further invest both time and finances in these communities in 2017.

Tweet: I've been told you can't have more than three priorities, or you don't really have any. - @wwblack1 #AllboundPodcast  I’ve been told you can’t have more than three priorities, or you don’t really have any. – @wwblack1 #AllboundPodcast


Talk us through how a master agent program differs from your reseller program.

Let me first tell you how they are similar. Both programs work with Five9 sales and sales engineering staff to ensure that we’ve provided the optimal team to compete and win in the market with the partner. The joining of the Five9 experts with our partner experts makes for an unbeatable team. The programs are different, though, based on the scope of services that each type is really ready to deliver to a client. So in the agent or master agent program, they’re really focused most of the time on the pre-sale side of a customer’s selection of the solution and solving the need, bringing technology and different kinds of solutions to bear on that customer problem.

The resale program not only does that, and works in that pre-sale process, but also manage and deliver the solution. They want to train the customer, they want to own the operational consulting and ongoing support with the customer. I mean, the reseller really wants to have a day-to-day operational engagement with clients to continue to grow the success with a joint solution that they’re bringing the services and the day-to-day engagement experience along with the Five9 product.

When you look at the two ways, one of them is the beginning to end relationship where the other is focused on the pre-sale engagement side. That’s why it’s a great avenue for partners to start as a referral relationship and be able to grow into the resale soup to nuts delivery of the relationship over time. That makes it an easier way for all of us to get started.


What are some of the internal resources, team structures, or anything that you’ve put in place to support Five9’s partner ecosystem to ensure that you can be successful in engaging with these partners and making this a strategic part of your business as a company?

One of the great things at Five9 is we’ve been on a tremendous growth path over the last five years. We’ve grown roughly 40% a year, and that growth means we can hire people and put them in the right position to manage all aspects of our business growth. So we’ve been giving people that come into the company a partner tattoo as we bring them into our sales, sales engineering, and sales operations teams, because there are always transactions that are going back and forth between us and our partners.

We’ve also brought partner resources into our marketing team, because frankly, we’re pretty good at marketing the cloud contact center, and to many of our partners, this is a new set of stories to tell. So we can help them in selling cloud monthly recurring, versus a premise perpetual license. There’s a lot of learning and experience that we can transition that way. It goes right into our professional services. We’ve had to align people in our PS organization to be the point of contact for partners, because as they take on those responsibilities, they need a go-to resource to be able to help them overcome challenges or obstacles.

Our guys have seen a lot of implementations of Five9 and other cloud technologies, and they can help share that insight with our partners. And then finally support. I mean, everything happens through the support organization after the sale, and we want to do a mind meld with our partners so they can deliver those kinds of services the same way we do, which got us the recognition in the Gartner Magic Quadrant as being one of the best at execution in this sector.

Tweet: We want to mind meld with our partners so they can deliver customer service the same way we do. - @wwblack1 #AllboundPodcast #NeverSellAlone  We want to mind meld with our partners so they can deliver customer service the same way we do. – @wwblack1 #AllboundPodcast #NeverSellAlone


Everything you’re talking about has to do with that knowledge transfer. How do you get information from one entity to another, especially when they don’t work for you, they’re not in your building, they’re not on your payroll necessarily, and transferring your knowledge down to the partner but then getting the partner’s expertise and their customer knowledge back up to you is so critical. So that’s great that you were able to create an infrastructure to support that effective knowledge transfer.

Yes. You’re right on target, because it’s all about collaboration and we can’t ever leave a partner stranded. We’ve got to be there to provide the safety net for them and for the customer to ensure that we have a continuing great experience with our clients in the base, whether they’ve come to us directly or through a partner channel.

Tweet: It's all about collaboration; we can't ever leave a partner stranded - @wwblack1 #AllboundPodcast #NeverSellAlone  It’s all about collaboration; we can’t ever leave a partner stranded – @wwblack1 #AllboundPodcast #NeverSellAlone


To learn more about creating the optimal team to compete & win with the partner, tune in to episode 18 of The Allbound Podcast.

About Our Podcast

Want to hear more? Subscribe on iTunes. Also available through Google Play. The Allbound Podcast explores the evolving fundamentals of partner-based selling in the SaaS and subscription economy. Featuring some of the industry’s brightest minds in channel sales and marketing, episodes of The Allbound Podcast delve into how and why indirect sales and marketing has long been, and continues to be, a proven medium for accelerating growth and success. And how traditional “channel” models are being transformed into efficient, connected ecosystems to supercharge sales and drive customer success while keeping costs low. Subscribe on iTunes