As the saying goes, you don’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.  2016 was a year of tremendous growth here at AVANT, doubling our agent base and growing our booked agent revenue by 75% Y/Y.  UCaaS, SD-WAN, and Public Cloud were key areas of sales growth, and AVANT cemented sales enablement as the cornerstone of the company’s future.

Let’s set the stage for the big year ahead in 2017 with a recap of some of the highlights of what we accomplished in 2016:

1. Doubled our active agent base: Agents are now flocking to AVANT because of our new growth initiatives, and we have the numbers to prove it! Last year, the total amount of active AVANT agents doubled, and booked agent revenue grew a 75% Y/Y.

2. Launched the AVANT BattleApp: In 2016, we launched a new Sales Enablement as a Service application custom built on top of Salesforce Communities. This new application now serves as their weapon for accelerating sales, help start conversations with prospects, research solutions, and build proposals. The BattleApp is designed to develop partners into channel and sales experts, using cutting-edge features like the opportunity qualification tools,  cloud academy, quick information guides and a AVANT Industry Research from our R&D team.

The launch was highly significant for our agents. While AVANT has always been a distributor that offers sales enablement as a key offering, in 2016 we became a Sales Enablement company that does distribution. This new application scored a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 77 in it’s 1st release, which is amazingly high for a technology company.

3. Opened our new global HQ in Chicago and BattleLab: AVANT moved our global headquarters to a new facility in downtown Chicago. The open floorplan and modern design reflect our culture and position in the market. It’s central location and easy access to transportation makes it an ideal place to host partners from all over the country and world.  The new office is also the home of our new state of the art Sales Enablement and immersion center, the BattleLab. Here partners can immerse themselves in our Sales Enablement Methodology to learn how to sell next generation IT solutions. It’s also an exceptional place to bring customers, and host executive briefings. The opening of our office was ranked 4th top article on Channel Partners Online for all of 2016.  Take the virtual tour or come see us soon!

4. Launched monthly BattleBriefings: AVANT’s partners now have exclusive access to our monthly BattleBriefings, which are interactive technology briefings and sales masterclasses, broadcast live from the BattleLab and often with remote feeds from subject matter experts situated throughout the world. Past BattleBriefings have covered topics like DDOS, understanding the UCaaS opportunity, learning effective UCaaS sales strategies and making money with the public cloud. BattleBriefings occur on the second Thursday of every month at 12:00 P.M. CST. Our last BattleBriefing registered an unbelievable NPS rating of 100!  This year expect to see BattleBriefings on our core solutions like SD-WAN, Security, IaaS, DRaaS, and more UCaaS. You must be an AVANT channel partner to attend these BattleBriefings.

5. Presented at Salesforce Dreamforce ‘16: When Salesforce saw our BattleApp that was built on their Salesforce Communities, they invited us to present it as a case study at their premier event Dreamforce ‘16.  Not because it’s representative of a typical application for their platform, but rather because it is a shining example of what is possible.  We’re innovators, and it was a remarkable honor for us to be recognized as such by one of the most innovative SaaS companies in history.

6. Led the Channel in Cisco Powered Sales: AVANT was recognized by Cisco as the the global leader in the sales of Cisco Powered cloud services in 2016.  Not only that, but we sold more than that all of the Cisco Powered Cloud Aggregators.  Combined!  That’s why they asked us to pilot their Cisco Powered program for the channel as the first and only master agent to participate.

7. Made several strategic hires:  At the end of 2015 we had defined a strategy that would expand our footprint and enable us to fundamentally change the way partners engage with distribution partners and master agents.  It was clear that our ambitions would require a commitment to growing our team and filling key positions with experienced industry veterans and heavy-hitters. In 2016, that’s just what we did…

Alex Danyluk joined the team as Chief Strategy Officer, and is currently executing a three-to-five year growth plan for the company.   Alex comes from Odin where he was responsible for building the global ISV and SaaS partner ecosystem from its infancy to over 500 cloud offerings distributed by thousands of service providers serving over 10 million SMBs.  With a long career, including Microsoft, AT&T, CenturyLink (Qwest) and MSPs, leading channel growth and engagement.  He will help AVANT bring our innovative approach to market.

JP Tucker, a former Google Product Manager, joined the AVANT team as Director of Product Management.  Reporting to 2014’s strategic hire, Ron Hayman, JP is our SEaaS product owner and is responsible for delivering an incomparable sales enablement experience through industry-leading technology.

Juan Ochoa, a Microsoft and HPE alumni, was named AVANT’s new Sr. Director of Contracts.  Juan will be responsible for developing an industry-changing licensing program to enable the cloud channel ecosystem, and securing top notch, impenetrable agreements with leading vendors to protect the long-term revenue of our partners.

Additional special hires to support our growth and expansion included:

8. Strengthened our UK presence: AVANT is fully-committed to strengthening its position overseas. To help further this effort in the UK, as mentioned above, we hired Rob Merhej as its Senior Channel Manager for the UK.  Rob is serving as our feet-on-the-street for US based partners selling into the UK market as well as implementing our channel sales enablement program and methodology for UK based partners.  We’ve also expanded our portfolio of UK and European based vendors.  He brings an unmatched knowledge of the market and is an invaluable asset to our partners looking to expand or support enterprises with a UK presence.

9. Launched our first Partner Advisory Board: AVANT is also committed to understanding the day-to-day needs of its partner community. We launched a new advisory board to help further this effort. Guidance from this new group will help us ensure our vision and execution remain aligned with the needs of the partners we serve.

10. Was named a top company to work for: To top it off, AVANT was named one of the Nation’s 101 “Best and Brightest Companies to Work For” by the National Association for Business Resources (NABR), namely for its culture, environment and worker-friendly company policies. This was a great honor, and will help AVANT attract many more top professionals from around the industry.

There has never been a better time to be a part of the AVANT partner community. Our company is loaded with talent, committed to exploring hot new opportunities in technology and moving full speed ahead into the top Sales Enablement as a Service partner.   As we look toward 2017, our commitment to, and investment in the channel has never been greater and we are looking forward to more disruption and innovation in the industry.  Keep an eye out, there’s a lot coming this year!