There are many new tech solutions that are improving the way we work online. But today, we take you to the world of Partner Relationship Management and how AI is actually being applied in business these days.
In this episode of UpTech Report, we interviewed Daniel Graff-Radford, the CEO of Allbound. Daniel shares his insights into this challenging aspect of business and offers some helpful tips for those who are struggling.
To learn more about Daniel’s work, visit https://www.allbound.com/
DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!
Alexander Ferguson 0:00
In this episode of UpTech Report and the applied tech series, I interviewed Daniel Graff-Radford, the CEO of Allbound. In this global technology driven world partner relationship management, or PRM, is more complex than ever, and all bound is building the digital tools to maximize those relationships. Daniel shares his insights into this challenging mode of business and offer some helpful tips. For those who are struggling, then excited to have you join us to share kind of the the trajectory of where all bound is going, and also your perspective and how you’re staying innovative and continue to grow. So first off, when did the company start? When did you join? How was that process?
Daniel Graff-Radford 0:39
So the company started in 2014. And it was started because there was this problem going on in channel or partner based sales where there’s too much friction, not enough visibility, and so all bound was created as a way to use the latest changes in online cloud produced SAS offerings to solve a lot of these issues where we could provide insights and better connectivity, and communications and collaboration between channel partners. And I was brought in by the venture capital firm canal partners. That’s one of the investors here at all bound. This year to run the company, I had helped to lead a company that they had back before called Omni link systems. And based on, you know, my experience in building channel programs from scratch, and leading technology companies, we both thought this was a fantastic idea, I flew in to take a look at it, and fell in love with the product. You know, I’ve run channel programs three, four times. And it’s in one of those things where if I had had all bound, I personally would be significantly richer today. Because it’s so good at creating that connective tissue between you and your partner ecosystem, and to give you that real time feedback, what’s working and what’s not working. And then after I got to see the product, I got to meet the team. And all bound is a group of people here. We call our employees, all stars, and the all star team is truly all stars, they’re brilliant, they work so hard, they show great signs of leadership and growth. And so it made a hard decision to leave a great job but an easy decision to do something that I think will be truly meaningful in the SAS ecosystem.
Alexander Ferguson 2:37
And you knew you understood the problem, as you stated very intimately of channel partner. So help me understand a bit more about that pain point and, and maybe give a description of of a channel partner, and how does that work, then and you’re involved all balance involvement, then?
Daniel Graff-Radford 2:53
Sure, now I you know, here we are doing an interview Alex on Zoom, and zoom, that company is a happy customer of all bound. And so a perfect example, where they have an ecosystem of 1000s of resellers and referral partners. And they need to have a portal that they use all bound for, as their partner relationship management PRM portal for those partners to be able to sign up to become partners to be trained, how to sell zoom, how to refer in deals, how to register deals, so they don’t conflict with each other, and the direct sales people, and then to get marketing materials that they can work with, to be able to sell out there in the wide world. So an example partner for zoom would be Verizon Wireless, you know, they’re a well known partner of zoom, or they can resell. So if you’re a Verizon rep, and you need to personalize your marketing material, to be able to bring the Zoom product to your business to business, your business customers, you would use our portal to do that. And additionally, because zoom can see what combination of training and marketing materials lead to what type of deals they can use that as a way to interact with their channel partners and help the ones that are underperforming to perform better by using the model the ones that are doing well. So it gives them a lot of insight inside their channel. What’s going well, when I got started in channel, none of this existed. And so it was a very black box type of situation where I didn’t know if these people were going to sell my software or not that were my channel partners. And if I could see what worked for one in get that digital body language of those combinations of marketing materials and training that led to certain outcomes, I would have been able to use that as I said to make a lot
Alexander Ferguson 4:47
more money. So the whole fact of being able to scale a technology company or SAS company using channel partners makes a lot of sense and then even knowing Okay, looking inside the black box of how can I optimize These different channel partners is a big thing. Do you only does all that focus on tech or SaaS companies? Or does it apply for other industries as well?
Daniel Graff-Radford 5:08
You know, I think that you should think about our software applying to the entire indirect sales world. And if you talk to, you know, someone like Forrester, they would tell you three quarters of the world’s goods were sold in an indirect manner. But you have to look at the adoption of new technology on it where it is, and its adoptive curve. So sure, tech companies are adopting this faster. But we have plenty of financial services companies and others that also use our software. You know, if you think back 20 years to when people started using CRM software, to be able to have sales automation, and then 10 years ago, to use marketing automation software like a HubSpot or, or Marketo. That today, people are looking to add in a layer of awareness of what’s going on in their channel using technology like PRM. And so we’re on that same sort of adoption curve that those industries went through in their trajectory.
Alexander Ferguson 6:08
That’s fascinating. I love the analogy and connection to CRMs. And marking automation. And is the first time I heard of PRM. So would you say you were one of the first to use this terminology? Or do you see it as a growing trend?
Daniel Graff-Radford 6:22
Yeah, so PRM is a growing industry, we have a fair number of established players, some, some are names, you know, some are names you don’t. And, you know, nine out of 10 of our customers that we sign on, have not used PRM before. So we have to do a fair amount of education. Just like 10 years ago, Mark robear, over at HubSpot had to do education, for you know what it was to do inbound marketing. And so what we’re finding is that people are hungry to solve their channel problems are looking for technology solutions. Ilona Hansen over at Gartner was one of the first people I spoke to, when I joined all that because she covers the PRM space. And she said something to me on that first call that I found fascinating, which was that a year ago, people came to her small companies, large companies with channel problems that PRM solved. So she would then help people meet PRM companies. Today, people call her and ask her if the right PRM company to work with is. So I think that we’re in a fast adoption curve just on the early side of it.
Alexander Ferguson 7:36
That’s awesome. So then, when somebody is ready to work and pull on a solution, like what you have, what’s the service look like the pricing look like?
Daniel Graff-Radford 7:47
So one thing that we’ve learned is that the pricing model needs to be very transparent, very obvious. And the way that all bound works is that for more features, who you pay more money, so that you’re paying for the things you actually would use, and we publish our pricing right there on our website. So it’s transparent. We’re not the cheapest, and we’re not the most expensive product that’s out there. But we’re quite sure that we are the easiest to use and fastest to adopt. And you can see that on our Jeetu crowd reviews.
Alexander Ferguson 8:20
That’s awesome. How many customers do you have right now?
Daniel Graff-Radford 8:22
Alexander Ferguson 8:24
That’s awesome. Continue to go? No, as far as technology behind it, and how it can be different than from other platforms? I hear that you are using AI, that can be a buzz term. But tell me a bit more like what’s going on there? How are you utilizing it?
Daniel Graff-Radford 8:39
Yeah, so so, you know, I would say that we are utilizing a lot of the latest technology in very purposeful ways. So we are, you know, a cloud hosted offering that brings people’s content to the edge of the cloud that’s closest to them for very fast delivery. And what that does is it allows for people to have really fast access to the content they need to close deals on behalf of the vendors that they’re working with. And then the AI side of things, is what we’re doing in creating automation and some of the processes that people are using, but more importantly and more oftenly used are the channel insights where we’re what we’re doing is providing learning technology that is helping for a channel manager to see what’s working for one channel partner that’s not working for other and automatically suggesting behavior changes, so that when they have a week by week conversation with their channel partners, they’re able to better educate them on you know, what’s working, and it’s no longer Hey, I’m just checking in or how’s it going or let’s go grab a steak dinner. It’s now helping them learn what worked for other people so that they can be better themselves. or see what changes lead to better outcomes. These types of conversations are so much more meaningful, that they are now conversations that are that are far more look forward to in those interactions.
Alexander Ferguson 10:11
So does your platform actually provide then tips that that someone could be giving to their channel partner?
Daniel Graff-Radford 10:18
Yeah, so So one of the things we’re really proud of is how fast people can adopt and use our platform. We did a case study with a customer CloudBees that left a competitor of ours and came to us and saw a over 300% improvement in engagement by their partner ecosystem because of these tips and able to speed up the onboarding and providing that better feedback, as people are moving through trying to register deals and learn about technology and so forth.
Alexander Ferguson 10:47
Wow, that’s awesome. So then, for you and your team, how are you guys innovating and trying to stay ahead of the curve, because obviously, this space and Technology is always changing?
Daniel Graff-Radford 10:58
Yeah, so we are incredibly passionate about removing friction and making things work as people would expect in the channel industry. So innovation for us is centered on the things that people will want in making their channel program better. And our roadmaps developed. As such, we’re putting a fair amount of money into innovation. We have a very talented group of engineers here in the United States. And we recently opened up an office for full time employees and r&d Center, just outside of New Delhi, and in Gurgaon, India. And we found some brilliant engineers there and brilliant engineers here. So on a 24 by seven basis, we can be more responsive and more capable, and the features that we’re providing to our customer. So the what we’re doing is making channel have less friction, how we’re doing it is through that 24 By seven development process,
Alexander Ferguson 11:54
constantly trying to friction is definitely the the enemy when it comes to being able to make things easier, because everyone wants an easier solution and automation and is is I see a big key that everyone is looking for automating things have something else take care of it don’t have to worry about it. What’s um, as you’ve grown and continue to grow, what’s the difficulty that you’ve had to face in the past year or two, they were able to overcome and go through. Yeah,
Daniel Graff-Radford 12:21
so I would say one of the areas that we have put an intense amount of focus on is really being careful on the onboarding process for our new customers, we invented a new process that we call all aboard all bound, that is an eight step process to becoming a customer of all round. And this has been really helpful in shortening the time for people to have a useful full engagement with our software. But more importantly, that we’re building in the process in a way that is very collaborative with our customers. And they can see what they need to do and we need to do and is led to much happier customers in our NPS scoring that we’ve seen
Alexander Ferguson 13:03
so that the onboarding process is always a kick can be friction, right? That we want to remove that potentially but that’s what you were able to overcome and improve on is.
Daniel Graff-Radford 13:14
So we’re smaller, we just didn’t have the people to do it at this level. And so now that we’re larger, we’re able to put in World Class processes.
Alexander Ferguson 13:22
So would you say the solution when it comes if others are facing a similar issue when it comes to onboarding? Because I’m sure it’s a common issue for other SaaS companies or companies in general, was is this a combination of both the process and the people and the training or any tips that you would give on how someone else could solve a similar situation? Yeah,
Daniel Graff-Radford 13:41
if you’re having trouble with onboarding your customers, the first thing to do is to look at the outcomes that you want to have, in terms of what a happy customer at the end of the day looks like. And put the steps in place, map it out and look at the level of effort for each of those steps, then create a way for your customers and yourselves to understand who has to do what and when agree on this in writing, and then be able to track it in real time so that if people get confused or off track, that they have a place they can log into and see their progress. And so having that real time access when you have multiple people touching an important business system, like a PRM is really important. And so our competitors have said they take months to implement. We’re up and running in a matter of weeks. And in some cases, days depending on you know how complex the implementation is. And people love not just the speed, but the way that it’s happening that speed because of the transparency.
Alexander Ferguson 14:47
That’s powerful. And thanks to then having a clear process that people can understand and clear steps that they can follow. That’s powerful. So going forward, continuing to grow with your 100 to clients, where do you see your company in five years from now?
Daniel Graff-Radford 15:04
You know, what’s really interesting is, in the last 18 months, we went from very little of our revenues coming from outside the United States, two very meaningful part of our revenues come from. We’ve seen an increase to over 40% Every week of our traffic for the partners of our customers coming from outside the United States. And you know, what has been a faster growing industry in the US, I think, is now starting to be adopted in certain parts of the world that are not the United States. By see more growth on a global basis, I also see some other changes where the dynamic of Channel Sales is changing, where people have been looking for a frictionless purchase experience for everything. So when we look at the success that Amazon has had a great purchase experience or the user experience, when the iPhone first came out, buying things through a channel and having support and customer success through a channel are really important attributes that I think people will see less friction, because there’ll be better data and better automation, and better results. When people do through the channel. When those things occur, you will see a big change in how the channel sales world works today, people start with direct sales, and then they move to Channel Sales. For most businesses, if you have less friction and Channel Sales, it’s almost like creating a force multiplication earlier, the earlier you can implement channel, that just doesn’t work for a lot of companies today. So if you were starting your own SAS business, you probably do a direct sale model to start with and then move to channel later on. After you’d figure out how to do it more directly, if the friction is lower than people might start channel earlier.
Alexander Ferguson 16:51
Great advice and perspective on that. And also I appreciate them this direction, where you’re going outside the US of the more acceptance they’re being able to expand their what’s kind of the hurdles that you see that you need to overcome or accomplish in order to continue to grow and scale.
Daniel Graff-Radford 17:12
Yeah, so you know, we have quarterly board meetings where we talk about our strategy, our board is very pleased with the growth that we’ve been showing, and they’re always asking us, you know, could we use more money to grow faster, are there other things we should be doing based on their experience, and, you know, when we look at the strategies that we’re implementing to grow on a global basis, we’ve, we will have grown about 50%, this year on headcount will probably grow a similar amount next year, we’ve grown over 70% on revenues, and we can grow by a much higher rate next year. And because again, a lot of who we’re talking to are people that have never bought these things, these types of software solutions before PRM. Before what we’re learning is that we just need to be in more conversations with more people that are running channel programs, and we need to be a source of data to them, of well run healthy channel programs. And one day when they’re ready, they’ll be ready to buy from us. And so, you know, I would say that we have more places that we could show up to that we’re not in today that these people are hanging out. And then also, I think that there is a lot of software to be built that will remove friction in the channel, and will make it a much easier decision for anyone in the channel program to purchase our software that we’ll be building over the coming years.
Alexander Ferguson 18:45
Awesome. For you personally, how are you just continue to grow and innovate? Is there any podcasts or books or audio books that you’re listening to right now?
Daniel Graff-Radford 18:58
Yeah, so as a company, we do a company book club every other month to give people a chance to read if they’re doing other things, too. Last month, we did the sales acceleration formula, which was the HubSpot, head of sales when they got the gazzarri mark row bearish, and we had liked some of the Sastre talks that he had given as a company and so we choose a book collaboratively and that was the one we chose. And there was a lot we learned together about there were similarities between HubSpot trajectory and our trajectory by reading that book. And so next month is the Phoenix Project. And it’s an IT related book and DevOps related books. So that’s the one that one and I have not read it yet, but
Alexander Ferguson 19:47
how many people are in your book club in your companies, everybody or just certain like managers. Everyone
Daniel Graff-Radford 19:53
is invited that wants to participate. The first time we did it, we didn’t get great participation. One time we did it, we had a huge participation. And so we’re hoping that more and more people are enticed to come. You know, this becomes a great way to interact with people on non deliverable type items. And also to help people learn from each other and, and we learn and we get to listen to the thought patterns that people have and the experiences that they bring.
Alexander Ferguson 20:22
That’s a cool piece of culture, then that you can add to your culture of having a book club that helps move everyone forward both communication and knowledge, powerful stuff. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your insights on kind of your growth and what you guys are providing right now. For more information and kind of next steps that you would recommend what would you share.
Daniel Graff-Radford 20:42
So we have a lot of great content at all bound.com If you want to learn about well run channel programs, and we also post a fair amount on our social media. Whenever we have you know, tips and tricks for if you’re running a channel program, things that you should do.
Alexander Ferguson 21:00
That concludes the audio version of this episode. To see the original and more visit our UpTech Report YouTube channel. If you know a tech company, we should interview you can nominate them at UpTech report.com. Or if you just prefer to listen, make sure you subscribe to this series on Apple podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app.