This time six months ago, cloud calling vendor Aircall was still handling Australian and New Zealand customer and partner calls from the other side of the world.
Headquartered in France, the software-as-a-service company only launched a boots-on-the-ground operation in A/NZ in February after years of remote management.
Yet despite being one of a growing number of cloud collaboration vendors, Aircall decided getting physically closer to local customers was the best way to maximum growth.
Speaking to ARN, Aircall’s head of partnerships and channel for Asia Pacific Frank Eagleton, said building out the vendor’s partner base was of particular importance for its local strategy.
“What we've done over the last couple of months really is to get close to customers,” he said. “Previously, we've managed customers remotely from a regional point of view, but what we've done is we've moved all our critical functions closer.
“The beauty and the benefit of selling software is that it can be done remotely, and it can be deployed from anywhere in the world. This allowed the Australian market to organically grow through word of mouth.”
After just a few months, Aircall now has a local headcount of 25 people based in Sydney, accounting for sales, marketing and customer service. Among these is also Fred Viet, the former Amazon Web Services (AWS) GSI partner success for APJ who now serves as Aircall’s A/NZ regional sales director.
Boasting integrations with the likes of Salesforce and Hubspot, Aircall raised US$65 million in Series C funding in May last year.
“Aircall is such a broad integration; we integrate with so many CRMs, helpdesk solutions and other essential applications,” said Eagleton. “It has the ability to scale as well. So, you can create new numbers, teams, workflows on the fly, whenever the new business requires it."
Because of its ease of use, as Eagleton claimed, Aircall now has an A/NZ customer base of about 800 and recently signed a local master agent agreement with Tradewinds.
One of Eagleton’s key tasks now is to grow out Aircall’s partner program members, which span across three tiers: Introducer, Sales and Expert. In particular, Eagleton is keen to bring A/NZ Expert numbers up to around 25 partners.
“Even if telephony is not the partner skill set or focus today, they can still act as the trusted advisor for the customer,” claimed Eagleton. “By participating in the Introducer or Sales referral program, it allows partners to provide a broader technology solution for their customers.
“They benefit by directly leveraging sales, onboarding and customer success teams whilst benefiting from a revenue-sharing model. Then with the Expert tier, this is essentially when a reseller owns the customer journey end to end: from demonstrations, to support and invoicing.”
Aircall has also released its own marketing guide to help onboard partners and give them an extra level of support with their go-to-market strategies.
"Using this guide will enable partners to stand out and take the business forward vehicle,” explained Eagleton. “Then we help them capture these leads through onboarding and training, plus sales and marketing support.
"I think our big differentiator is the strong collaboration between our direct sales team and our channel team. There is no competition between our direct sales team and channel partners: they are there to help close channel opportunities.
“This collaborative model builds trust and helps partners convert more opportunities, leveraging the expertise.”
Meanwhile, across the Tasman, Aircall is also looking to expand its footprint in New Zealand. Although no boots are on the ground yet, growth there is on the agenda.
“For the moment, we are running New Zealand from Sydney, but there will be some travel as well to New Zealand markets as travel opens up over the next couple of months,” explained Eagleton.
“What I’ve been doing is trying to understand the type of partners we have, understanding their capabilities, and really understanding how we help them win more. And we can expand [the network] quite quickly. And that's what our channel programmes can do.”