Barely into its second year, the global partner program at AvePoint, a SaaS and data management platform provider, is evolving into a significant revenue producer. The company’s managed service provider business, primarily focused on the SMB market, continues to grow in triple digits and is expected to reach 10 percent of the company’s total ARR by the end of the year, as reported in Q1 2022 earnings.
Since launching the global partner program last July, AvePoint has seen tremendous growth in its channel business, which is in line with its geographic and market segment expansion, the company noted in a press release.
Referencing a number of honors recently bestowed on the company’s program and its people, including a 5-Star Software Vendor designation in CRN’s 2022 Partner Program Guide, the company said each accolade is a testament to the entire team’s hard work and dedication to expanding our channel ecosystem.
Just as the Summer started, CMR chatted with Mary Leigh Mackie, Chief Marketing Officer at AvePoint, about the development of the global partner program, the transition to a channel-too go-to-market mindset, and the role that C-Suite support is playing in implementing the overall initiative.
AvePoint is not a new player in the channel, said Mackie. The company has been selling products through partners to some enterprise and midsize accounts since its founding. “But as AvePoint transformed our product line and our business to SaaS- based solutions and to subscription-based modeling, it really allowed us to open up access to our products and platforms and offer the same benefits that we offer to enterprise customers to small businesses.”
Mackie credits AvePoint’s leadership with accelerating the adoption of channel-directed programs. “With any successful business transformation, it has to start from the very top,” she said. The company “put our stake in the ground and it came from the very top level including our chief executive, TJ (Dr. Tianyi Jiang) that this is absolutely the direction forward for us.”
With that support, Mackie kicked off a program to ingrain a channel-attentive strategy throughout internal teams including field and product marketing. “We’re redoing and rethinking about how we are bringing products to market and how we are running campaigns that formerly really just involved us,” said Mackie. “Now we’re thinking about not only how we enable and empower our own global sales and marketing organizations. Now we’re really thinking through how to truly treat our partners as an extension our team.”
Field marketing is equally channel focused. “Everybody’s field marketing plans includes how we support existing customers, how we get new customers, how we support existing partners, and how we get new partners to grow,” said Mackie. “Having those four components of each plan gives ownership and accountability for how we’re doing in the regions. It gives us a directive from the corporate side of how we align our product marketing, our branding, our communications, and even our community management to better support all those different infield activities and engagements as well.”
Coordinating the activities of product and field marketing teams to provide more support to the channel was not an insignificant effort, said Mackie. Internal teams required “upskilling to understand how to effectively communicate to our partners.” Marketing teams need to be coached on crafting content that partners could use and how to create templates that enable partners to customize messages or add information about complementary solutions.
“One of my first directives was to really think about how we build out the product marketing organization to better support our business,” said Mackie. With new products on the way, Mackie wanted to ensure that the new offerings had “exceptional product market fit and solved real problems for real people.” It was critical to “account for and support an expanding audience, to build solutions that add value across a range of a kind of personas and audiences.”
Bringing partners into early discussions about new products was critical, said Mackie. “It was important for us to not only have product team supporting development support, but also product marketing support and thinking through how we take feedback, how we listen, how we better respond to those requests and pain points that exist in this expanded audience.”
Making it easier for partners to participate in the program and access support tools and content was critical. The company invested in a new partner portal, replacing an “external SharePoint site” with a system that would provide “a better experience, really bringing together all the things. For us, this portal is a chance for us to reimagine how we’re guiding people along the journey,” said Mackie, “How they’re interacting with us, how they’re registering deals — helping them claim their own rewards. It was a chance for us to create an upgraded experience, to not just learn but also interact with us and continue on a journey.”
Mackie stated that AvePoint is indeed striving to “collaborate with confidence,” to support customers where they are and with whom they’re doing business. “That’s how we can best solve the problems of today’s businesses. And at the end of the day, I think that’s really what we are here to do is to add value and solve problems.”
C-suite support for AvePoint’s channel partners is likely to grow significantly. The company appointed Heather Murray as Chief Channel Officer. In this role, Murray will lead the company’s efforts to expand relationships with managed service providers, solution providers, and systems integrators, grow the global partner program, and accelerate global distribution networks and cloud marketplace presence.
Murray, who joins AvePoint from TD SYNNEX, a leading IT distributor and solutions aggregator for the IT ecosystem, brings more than 30 years of experience in channel management, demand generation, partner recruitment, brand management, and building high performance teams.