Editor’s note: This is the latest in an exclusive UpTech series about Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and much more technology as part of a partnership between YourLocalStudio.com and WRAL TechWire. Previous posts can be found by searching “Uptech” at WRAL TechWire.com. Interviews are conducted by Alexander Ferguson, CEO of YourLocalStudio.com.

In this episode of UpTech Report and the Applied Tech series, I interview Daniel Graff-Radford, the CEO of Allbound. (Allbound describes itsef as the leading next generation partner relationship management platform.”) In this global, technology-driven world, partner relationship management, or PRM, is more complex than ever, and Allbound is building the digital tools to maximize those relationships. Daniel shares his insights into this challenging aspect of business and offers some helpful tips for those who are struggling.

The interview

  • Daniel, I’m excited to have you join us and share the trajectory of where Allbound is going and also your perspective and how you’re staying innovative and continuing to grow. So, first off, when did the company start? When did you join? What was that process?

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 and not enough visibility. Allbound was created as a way to use the latest changes in online cloud-produced SaaS offerings to solve a lot of these issues, where we could provide insights and better connectivity and communications and collaboration between channel partners.

I was brought in by the venture capital firm, Canal Partners, as one of the investors here at Allbound. This year, to run the company, I had helped to lead a company that they had back before called Omnilink 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, four times, and it’s in one of those things where, if I had had Allbound, 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 Allbound is a group of people here— we call our employees Allstars—and the Allstar team is truly allstars. They’re brilliant, they work so hard, they show great signs of leadership and growth, and so it made it a hard decision to leave a great job but an easy decision to do something that I think will be truly meaningful in the SaaS ecosystem.

  • And you knew, you understood the promise, you stated very intimately of channel partners. So, help me understand a bit more about that pain point and maybe give me a description of a channel partner. And how does that work then, and Allbound’s involvement, then?

Sure! Now, you know, here we are, doing an interview, Alex, on Zoom. And Zoom, the company, is a happy customer of Allbound. And so, they’re a perfect example where they have an ecosystem of thousands of resellers and referral partners. And they need to have a portal that they use Allbound for as their partner relationship management (PRM) portal for those partners to be able to sign up, to become partners, to be trained on 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 where they can resell. So, if you’re a Verizon rep, and you need to personalize your marketing materials to be able to bring the Zoom product to your business-to-business customers, you would use our portal to do that.

And additionally, because Zoom can see what combination of training and marketing materials led 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 of 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 and get that digital body language of those combinations of marketing materials and training that led to certain outcomes, I would’ve been able to use that, as I said, to make a lot more money.

  • So, the whole fact of being able to scale a technology company or SaaS company using channel partners makes a lot of sense. And even looking inside the black box of, “How can I optimize these different channel partners,” is a big thing. Does Allbound focus on tech or SaaS companies, or does it apply for other industries as well?

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 are sold in an indirect manner.

But you have to look at the adoption of new technology on it—where it is in 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 HubSpot 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.

  • That’s fascinating. I love the analogy and connection to CRMs and marketing automation, and it’s the first time I’ve heard of PRM. So, would you say you’re one of the first to use this terminology, or do you see it as a growing trend?

Yeah, so PRM is a growing industry. We have a fair number of established players. 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 Roberge 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 and are looking for technology solutions. Ilona Hansen over at Gartner was one of the first people I spoke to when I joined Allbound 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.

She would then help people meet PRM companies. Today, people call her and ask who the right PRM company to work with is. And so, I think that we’re in a fast adoption curve—just on the early side of it.

  • That’s awesome. So then, when somebody’s ready to work and pull on a solution like what you have, what does the service look like—the pricing look like?

So, one thing that we’ve learned is that the pricing model needs to be very transparent and very obvious. And the way that Allbound works is that for more features, 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 G2 crowd reviews.


  • That’s awesome. How many customers do you have right now?

192 customers.

  • Now, as far as technology behind it and how it can be different than from other platforms, I hear that you are using AI. It could be a buzz term, but tell me a bit more. What’s going on there? How are you utilizing it?

I would say that we are utilizing a lot of the latest technology in very purposeful ways. So, we are 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 in some of the processes that people are using. But more importantly, and more often used, are the channel insights. We’re providing learning technology that is helping a channel manager 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 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 led to better outcomes. These types of conversations are so much more meaningful that they are now conversations that are far more looked forward to in those interactions.

  • So, does your platform actually provide tips that someone could be giving to their channel partner?

Yeah, 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 our customer, CloudBees, that left a competitor of ours and came to us and saw an over 300% improvement in engagement by their partner ecosystem because of these tips. They were able to speed up onboarding and provide that better feedback as people are moving through, trying to register deals and learn about technology and so forth.

  • Wow. 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’s always changing?

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 road map’s 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, an R&D center just outside of New Delhi in Gurgaon, India.

And we found some brilliant engineers there and brilliant engineers here. So, on a 24/7 basis, we can be more responsive and more capable in the features that we’re providing to our customers. So, what we’re doing is making channels have less friction. How we’re doing it is through that 24/7 development process.

  • Constantly trying. Friction is definitely the enemy when it comes to being able to make things easier for folks. Because everybody always wants an easier solution. And automation is a big key that everyone is looking for—automating things and have something else take care of it so I don’t have to worry about it. As you’ve grown and continue to grow, what’s the difficulty that you’ve had to face in the past year or two that you were able to overcome and go through?

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 Allbound” that is an eight-step process to becoming a customer of Allbound.

And this has been really helpful in shortening the time for people to have a useful 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 it has led to much happier customers in our NPS scoring that we’ve seen.

  • So that, the onboarding process always can be friction, right? That we want to remove that, potentially. But that’s what you were able to overcome and improve on is impressive.

When we were smaller, we just didn’t have the people to do it at this level. Now that we’re larger, we’re able to put in world-class processes.