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The journey to the ecosystem - Part 1

TL;DR: Allbound is moving to an ecosystem-first go-to-market. Executive sponsorship is critical to a successful ecosystem-first strategy. Ecosystem first, means changing the strategy of almost every department in your company. We are already seeing the positive impact of these changes with 40% of all of closed/won business being advocated for by partners
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Allbound is a partner technology company that, until very recently, did not have a partnership program. Crazy right!?

The thing is I understand the value of partnerships. When I was at AppSense (now @Ivanti), we had a thriving channel partner program, one that helped us break into both the European and US markets and quickly became 60% of our overall revenue mix through a combination of ISV (e.g. Citrix, VMware) and VAR.

Partnerships work in a big way. So, we have decided to do something about this at Allbound.

We are changing our business model from one that was previously all traditional, direct lead generation to one that is ecosystem first.

And by ecosystem-first, I don’t mean enabling partners to become an extension of our sales team through resell. Nor do I mean just a transactional referral agreement at 10% ARR. No, I mean genuine equality. We’ll be primarily ‘selling-with’ as opposed to ‘selling-to’ or ‘selling-through’.

Will we stop doing Inbound and Outbound? Not at all! Those horses are still in the race. We just believe that there’s a thoroughbred in the stables waiting to get to the track and we’ll race all our horses together.

So I thought I would write about how we’re managing this transition on a bi-weekly basis. This will be a partial report back to you all on how we are doing, but also be very transparent and honest around the wins and losses we experience as we roll out partnerships at Allbound.

Let’s face it, we’re all going to be in this situation at some point, so I thought we’d point out some of the obstacles and some of the catalysts to progress.

Where are we now?

So where are we at as I sit and write the very first blog post in the series?

Things are moving fast, and a lot of our internal processes are changing rapidly also. Here are a couple of things of note that I feel compelled to share.

Firstly, we have managed to get the blessing of our board and investors to pursue this strategy. We were able to do this because our CEO, Paul, gets the value of partners. I didn't have to do much convincing to get him on board. It’s something that I am quickly realizing is CRITICAL to a successful partner program.

Without having Paul front and center, supporting this move, it would be almost impossible to effect the changes required.

Now, when I say it's a huge undertaking to make this switch. It's HUGE. 

It impacts us in marketing, as we are reducing spend on things like paid acquisition to instead prioritize partner co-marketing

It impacts sales as we now need to enable the team on co-selling, and how to think about not just our solution at Allbound but also our partners solutions, in the expectation of sharing leads with, and advocating for, our partner network.

It impacts product, as integrations into other complimentary products become more important in an ecosystem-driven world.

It even creeps into our HR function, as we now want to prioritize hiring sellers, marketers and CSMs that understand the culture of relationship, and have experience working with partners.

However we are already reaping the benefits. In Q4 of 2023, without us having a formalized partner program, 40% of our closed/won revenue could be attributed to partner-influenced. That’s just by considering this move! We are trending for similar statistics as we are deep into Q1.

So, what's next?

Well, Dan O’Shaughnessy has stepped up to the plate to help build out our formalized partner program, called the Allbound Value Alliance (or Ava for short!). Here’s Dan, say hi….and get in touch if you’d like to partner up!

Our next issue will be focussed primarily on the processes and people we are getting into place to drive the next stage of growth for Allbound. We will go deep on all the things we have needed to do to change the direction of our business.

Until next time, stay tuned!


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