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Shane McNamara: My First 100 Days with AVANT have been a Whirlwind

The whirlwind of achievements during my first 100 days here began well before I joined AVANT.  Last year AVANT began investing heavily in accelerating its vision for leading the industry in channel sales enablement.  As outlined in our most viewed blog post this year, the focus in 2016 was to build out the technology, make strategic hires, and develop an ecosystem of programs to form our new Channel Sales Enablement Program.
 
The program is a proven turnkey framework for partners that want to “accelerate sales of next-gen IT solutions” as our marketing team likes to say.  More plainly, it gives partners the tools, resources, training, expertise, and vendor relationships that they need to get in early on the opportunities that come with new technology, like SD-WAN, Security, IaaS, and UCaaS.
 
The reason we’ve invested so much into the development of this program is that the amount of opportunity with so many new and growing technologies in the market is overwhelming, and they require a new breed of partner that is able to be nimble and quickly react to market trends.  Our program lets our partners use us as a springboard for their sales, engineering, and back office teams to quickly ramp up for new technologies. 
 
One hundred days ago when I was starting here at AVANT this machine was kicking into full gear, and the traction we’ve since, coupled with the rapid expansion of the program, has far exceeded my expectations.  We’re seeing partners that go all in on our program double and triple their business while reducing their time to revenue by 43 days on average.  In all my years I’ve never seen results like this.  
 
Here are seven key initiatives we completed during my first 100 days:
 
Launch of SD-WAN “Practice”
Something that’s special about AVANT’s approach to enablement is that we create a practice around specific technologies.  Our SD-WAN practice is the application of our experience, tools, technology, and resources that partners can plug into enabling them to learn about the technology behind SD-WAN, its application in the real world, the engineering support they need to design solutions, and the tools and training they need to sell.  We also have the best portfolio of SD-WAN vendors in the industry.  That gives our partners a rapid and successful entrance into the market for new technologies.  It’s the most cost effective and fastest way to keep your sales team ahead of the market for emerging technology.   Other practices that are available are Security, UCaaS, IaaS, and Telecommunications.

Launch of Cable Practice
In the same vein as the SD-WAN practice, we launched a complete cable practice for partners, starting with our partnership with Comcast to offer cable-based services for cloud and colocation.  In fact one of the key reasons we launch our cable practice was because of the growth of SD-WAN.  SD-WAN has changed the game in how customers can leverage general internet broadband networks like cable to augment and optimize their WAN application performance, create network resiliency and improve costs/performance ratios.
 
Launch of BattleApp v.2
We announced significant upgrades to our channel sales enablement program at the spring Channel Partners show, including the upgrade of the AVANT BattleApp. The BattleApp is the industry leading sales app that our partners use as a face-to-face selling tool that can help with every aspect of the sales cycle.  Our partners find that pulling out the app in a meeting really makes an impact on the customer, and improves their probability of closing a deal significantly.  The latest release of the BattleApp delivers expanded sales enablement features and functionality to support both back-office and face-to-face selling activities, like: 

Access Case Studies, Legal Templates
Upload Your Own Sales and Marketing Documents
AVANT Support at Your Fingertips
Improved User Experience
More Customization Options 
 
CIO Events Come to NYC and Chicago
We had a hugely successful launch of CIO Events which are a series of thought leadership summits that focus on specific technologies and will be held in local markets across the country.  Partners can invite their end user customers to sit and listen to a panel of experts relate the use cases and benefits of technology like SD-WAN in an upscale setting with food, cocktails, and networking.  It’s a powerful way to show your customers value as a trusted advisor and will help you move strategic opportunities for new technology quickly through the sales funnel.  SD-WAN: What You Need to Know in New York and Chicago were a hit and we’re moving to new markets and new topics in Q3. 
 
2nd Special Forces Training Held
They say the best way to learn a new language is to fully immerse yourself in it.  We feel the same about learning how to sell new technology.   Special Forces Training is two full days of immersion in the market conditions for trending technology.  Partners learn from industry leaders about the technology and the business drivers that are creating the demand, then we teach them how to use our methodology and tools from our Channel Sales Enablement Program to close business.   I had joined shortly after the last Special Forces training in January.  The feedback from the first event was so positive we had to fast-track the second event and the feedback from the 50 new partners that attended the 2nd event was even better, with a 95% Net Promoter Score, we’ll be making these a regular element of our channel enablement program.
 
Expanded Support Structure
When I joined the team, my counterpart Jennifer Gallego shifted her focus to the West and I took the East.  This enables us to better serve the different needs of the markets and increase the access our partners have to senior executive level support.  It also helps us better respond to the needs of our Partner Managers in their respective markets.  This expanded support lets us stay nimble and responsive to the unique needs and challenges of each market, while still offering a consistent and homogenous AVANT experience.   
 
First VP of Channel Sales Enablement
We also moved Howard Huerta to VP of Channel Sales Enablement.  Howard’s role now is to be the glue that binds the different components of the Channel Sales Enablement Program.  He’ll also be pouring over the data that comes from our technology platform and interpreting it to give insights to senior management that will help us predict the needs of our partners and adapt to changing market forces, all in an effort to continue to improve and add more value for partners. 
 
My first 100 days with AVANT have truly been a whirlwind and a period of unmitigated success for the company and our partners.  The industry moves at breakneck speed, so, if you want to be leader, you need to move even faster.  With all of this change, the one thing that remains constant is our commitment to our partners.  The results we’re seeing just reinforce that we’re on the right path, and the record number of new partners joining AVANT show that the channel needs something more than what the traditional master agent model can offer.  The next 100 days will be even bigger!

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