Avanan launches channel program to enable VARs as well as MSPs

Avanan sold its email suites direct until 2019, but has been moving to a 100% channel model, and is looking to its new partner program to accelerate that shift.

Michael Lyons, Vice President of Global Channels at Avanan

Cloud-based email suite vendor Avanan, which has been transitioning from a direct sales model to a 100% channel one, has formally launched their first comprehensive channel program. The company expanded into the channel initially through MSPs. Now, with the launch of the program, it is adding support for VARs to the mix as well.

“When I came to Avanan in early 2019, we had the MSP part of the channel in its infancy,” said Michael Lyons, Vice President of Global Channels at Avanan. “I put the program together around that, automated things, and business took off.We grew the business 700% and brought on more resources, specifically SEs and marketing people. Now, with the new program, it’s time to broaden it to the entire channel.”

When Lyons arrived, the decision to switch the Go-to-Market to the channel had just begun, and the amount of business being generated at that point was tiny.

“Now we want to be at 70% by the end of the year,” he said. “Our philosophy is to get as close to 100% as possible. We now have over 400 MSP partners.”

Lyons indicated that a change to the company’s direct sales force’s comp model played a significant role in the jump in channel sales.

“We immediately initiated a change to the direct model, where if they got $10 from a direct sale, and $8 if it went through a channel partner, we would compensate on the $10,” he said. “They are incented to do it today, and in 2022 it will be mandatory.”

The Avanan Partner Portal, which features a one-click, zero-touch deployment model, has now gone live.

“The first significant step was the portal itself,” Lyons said. “Before we used the existing tools we have – Hubspot and Salesforce. It worked, but it wasn’t a smooth experience. Six weeks ago, we released this new partner portal with a different look and different experience.”

Lyons emphasized that the new portal eliminates time-consuming tasks for partners that were part of the old system

“Before, the only way they could co-brand content required manual intervention,” he said. “Now they can do it themselves in seconds.”

Training is not yet fully integrated in the portal, but that’s coming.

“The next important step for us with portal is simple access to automated self-serve training,” Lyons noted. “Today. its manual. An Avanan SE schedules time with the partner and conducts the training. The training is simple because deployment is five minutes. We have short vignettes, but a proper training program is what we are working on now.”

The plan is to give partner the self-service capacity to do things that today they get from Avanan.

“We scale when we don’t have to provide technical resources to do demos,” Lyons said. “A few partners like to have the vendor do everything for them, but most want to be self-sufficient and not rely on someone else’s schedule. Eventually this will be part of the discounting system.”

The program has no tiers at this point, but there are separate tracks for MSPs and VARs.

“The two engagement models are dramatically different, because they have different business models,” Lyons stated. “The MSP model is monthly usage based, so getting quotes, and annual commitments are gone, and there are no long-term contracts. On the VAR side, it’s more classic.”

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