Box’s Partnership Journey: Nearbound, Allbound, Glory-bound

Box’s Partnership Journey: Nearbound, Allbound, Glory-bound

Shawnie Hamer 15 min

35 seconds. 


That’s less time than it takes you to drink a glass of water or clear out your inbox in the morning. 


Less time than waiting at a red light or the time it takes you to come up with a quippy LinkedIn post. 


35 seconds. That’s how long it often takes Dan O’Leary, Senior Director of Partnerships at Box, to get a response from his AEs on running nearbound plays on top-tier prospects and accounts. 


I’ve been in face-to-face meetings with partners, and say, ‘Let’s see how long it takes to get a response from this account team on a focus account. Hang on one sec.’ The Slack message goes out to the account channel and I tell them, ‘Watch this. It will be 30, maybe 35 seconds.’ And I’m not even joking, it is like a near-immediate response…Nearbound executed in Reveal and Allbound has absolutely driven this strategy and engagement.’


You might be shaking your head and calling B.S. right now, but the truth is this: Dan has been able to get this level of alignment (and flat-out excitement) within his organization thanks to three major motions: 

  1. Dan didn’t try to shove a new, partner-specific initiative down the revenue team’s throats; rather, he situated partnerships behind the momentum and programs they already had with their focus and target accounts.  

  2. Dan has shifted this momentum towards nearbound buy-in because he has learned how to leverage trust and partnerships at each stage of the Co-sell Flywheel. And, lastly, 

  3. He focused on the partners who would have the most impact and built long-term relationships based on mutual benefit for joint customers.  

These three motions, while relatively simple ideas at first glance, are a lot easier said than done. They require tools and honed strategies that encompass the entirety of the partner and customer journey, as well as the workflows, processes, and goals that matter most to internal and partner teams. 

Nearbound x the co-sell flywheel

Before jumping into how Dan has successfully executed his partner strategy, it’s important to understand the frameworks he is using and how they’ve helped him steer his mighty ship. 


The first is nearbound, the Go-To-Market strategy that taps into those buyers trust at every stage of the journey for what we call the 3 I’s: intel, intros, and influence.


Nearbound matters because buyer behavior matters.


The market has moved from the ‘How’ to the ‘Who’ economy. No longer are buyers asking, “How do I solve X?” There is too much noise. SEO is gamed, and ads and cold emails are being tuned out.


Now, buyers are asking, “Who can help me solve X?” They are looking to nodes of trust in their network. 


The Box Sales team has been able to succeed in a nearbound motion—or leveraging these trusted nodes at each step of the buyer journey—because: 

  • Dan uses Reveal to get the right intel, on the right customer opportunity, in the right place, at the right time, and within the right workflows, and 

  • He uses Allbound to nurture a pool of partnerships with whom he’s built solid and long-lasting relationships (and who have provided value to customers consistently) to continuously mine the 3 I’s from. 

Allbound’s co-sell flywheel

Simply managing partner activities is one small piece of a very large puzzle. And, frankly, if managing referral commission payouts or deal registrations is all you’re worried about, then your program is already heading to its grave. 

Successful partnerships are about proving value with and to partners again…and again…and again…


(You get the picture.)


By managing his partnerships in Allbound, Dan has been able to not just stay organized on partners’ activities, but also empower and engage his partners for long-term success. 


Here’s where Allbound’s shift from a simple PRM—which typically focuses on internal acceleration of the long tail of partner programs—to a platform for helping their customers solve the problem of partner programs (especially those programs that are NOT designed to solve their partner’s problems!) is so important. 


Just like buyers in the How economy, partners are being bombarded with noise, too. Ten years ago, there were 200 vendors for partners to choose there are 12,000+. 


Basically, Partner Managers are either getting pulled in too many directions to make an impact, or they’re struggling to keep partners focused. 


Allbound’s move to the Co-sell Flywheel strategy in their platform has allowed customers like Dan to:  

  • Provide value to partners right away, 

  • nurture relationships over the long term to continuously strengthen the partnership, AND

  • bring value to both his and his partners’ companies. 

Here’s how Allbound frames the Co-sell flywheel: 

  • Co-sell: identify optimum relationships to maximize mutual value and hit revenue goals. 

  • Co-keep: Nurture acquired relationships to ensure maximum leverage of potential in the relationship. 

  • Co-grow: Use co-keep signals to scale relationships and feed ideal partnership criteria back into co-sell for new partner acquisition.


Allbound’s Co-sell Flywheel


We’ve all heard the first rule of sales: nobody cares about your product. 


Likewise is the first rule of partnerships: 


Partners don’t care about your product until you make it valuable for them and their customers. 


Allbound allows partner leaders like Dan to give more to partners to get more out of more partners. 


Because, at the end of the day, both buyers and partners are overwhelmed. They want to trust us, but likely don’t yet. Allbound helps Dan solidify that confidence with his partners so they can be the trusted voice to their customers.

Dan’s nearbound plays 

Dan’s playbook using Allbound and Reveal is one many partner leaders can benefit from. And the best part, he didn’t reinvent the wheel. Far from it. All Dan has done is use these platforms and the data they provide alongside the goals and momentum of his internal teams to create alignment


Here’s how: 

Step 1: Get focused 

Box (NYSE:BOX) is the leading Content Cloud, a single platform that empowers organizations to manage the entire content lifecycle, work securely from anywhere, and integrate across best-of-breed apps. Founded in 2005, Box simplifies work for leading global organizations, including AstraZeneca, JLL, and Nationwide


They are content cloud providers to 68% of the Fortune 500 and have over 115,000 customers. They have a geographically distributed customer base, and, currently, the majority of their revenue comes from customers who are using or upgrading to their Enterprise + product suite.


That said, Dan has recently supported a new initiative to add even more logos to that impressive list. 


We put together an account tiering and new logo acquisition strategy program that we launched at the beginning of this fiscal year with our sales org, and we’ve used nearbound tactics as a key catalyst to drive it. 


This initiative has been executed in two major ways: 

The first is called our Focus Account program - we call it the B2K program. It’s not a boy band. No, it’s the Box 2,000, the data-driven list of the 2,000 companies we want to grow with this year. And, we have a healthy incentive program to make sure account teams are going after this business.


The second part is an account tiering program where our account teams have tiered their accounts into A, B, C, and D. We are focused on a nearbound strategy across the flywheel, especially for our A accounts, where we have the highest probability for success and where we are the most focused on working with them. That’s where we want to dig in with our partners. 


By focusing on key accounts alongside the Sales team, Dan and his team know exactly where and how they can make the co-sell assist with partners. And by structuring those nearbound plays alongside preexisting incentive structures, Dan has been able to get great buy-in from AEs and leadership alike. 


We saw that these incentive programs and this alignment were coming down from the rest of the go-to-market leadership and we got behind it. We asked, ‘How can partners be a strategy, not a team, to help us with the B2K and tiered account programs?’ It’s been a very effective way of overcoming the barrier because we say, ‘We’re just getting behind you guys. We’re here to help you. We have the data to align the right partner. We’re gonna have a bigger deal. The deal is gonna go faster, and it’s gonna have a faster close rate. We’re gonna derisk it AND align with your existing programs and incentives.’ It’s as close to a silver bullet as GTM leaders have these days. 


Step 2: Execute nearbound co-sell

Once teams are focused and aligned, it’s time to start making some money for everyone involved, and turning prospects into delighted customers. Dan uses Reveal and nearbound to strategically place partners in the deals that matter most to his AEs. 


With Reveal, the execution of this with partners becomes possible. What I do with reps is I sit down, and say ‘Let me filter by your strategic accounts with my B2K filter.’ I search by account priority status and I type in ‘equals A’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, looking at your A accounts, here’s what I know. Here’s what I can tell you about them. Here’s what I see from our technology partners. Here’s what I see from our reseller partners. Here’s what I see from our go-to-market partners, and our SI Partners.’ Then we also use the data to inform us on what partners we should pull into the account strategy and planning to surround the customer. For example, I have one partner who has a win rate that’s near 80% using these tactics with qualified customers in their target industry. 


(The 35-second response rate is starting to sound less like B.S., isn’t it?) 


And like any good Partner leader, Dan doesn’t stop there. To co-keep and co-grow with his partners, he knows he has to use Reveal’s data to give back as much—if not more—than he’s asking from them. 


This has been an incredibly useful tool, not just for me but for our partners, too. Because, many times, we know more about accounts than our partners do based on the type of business we run at Box, where content is central to how they run their business. So we’re able to give them a lot more than we get to our partners and our ecosystem.


Step 3: Nurture partner relationships

Dan’s ultimate goal for co-keep—or for nurturing and retaining key partners—is directly tied to Box’s ultimate goal: delighting and retaining happy customers. 


The co-keep is like really key because every enterprise software company is concerned about net-retention and adoption. Customer acquisition is getting harder and more expensive across the board. Enterprises broadly have to work harder than ever before for less and less pipeline. That’s real. When we acquire a customer, we need to retain them longer to get a good payback, period and Partners have a key role to play in driving efficiency. 


Dan and his team use Allbound for this mission, enabling partners through the platform’s features to deliver more value to their customers every day. He spends time with go-to-market and tech partners to ensure that they aren’t just selling and delivering with them but also ensuring integration and adoption. 


We have 1,500+ partners of various types. It’s a long list, right? So, to me, the happier they are and the better adopted, the more rationalized our customer acquisition costs become. And then the better we can understand our customer lifetime value. And ultimately, the metric that I’m really looking at—the thing that I think about on long trail runs—is our Net Dollar Retention. I want to make sure that that number is going up over time consistently with help from our Partner Ecosystem.


Dan executes co-keep in Allbound by ensuring that every corner of the partners’ teams is enabled to reach their goals. 


A Box focused business may be a separate business unit within our partner’s company, or part of another team or program. Maybe we’re working with the Salesforce team, or the Security and Governance group, or the Platform or API business unit, or a broader team like Collaboration. So, we want to make sure that across all the different personas in their company they are knowledgeable and educated on the latest about Box, whether that’s Box AI, product pricing and packaging, product capabilities, roadmap, or features. It includes vertical positioning and it’s across different personas in IT and Security. All of the different personas have slightly different content needs. And what we’ve tried to do is put that type of content front and center in Allbound. 


Dan then takes enablement a step further with Box’s Partner Academy, their LMS that they’ve externalized into Allbound to provide not just the training curriculum, but a framework to get educated on these things. 


We know if our partners know about our product, if they know about the platform, and if they know what’s coming then they know how to talk about Box with their customers and contacts, and we can provide them with the right information so that they can be the trusted experts who help us keep and retain those joint customers over time.


Step 4: Grow together 

Box recently surpassed Mount Billion with $1 Billion in ARR, an impressive achievement, especially in today’s market. But they know that the things that got them there aren’t going to help them get to the top of the next summit. They are going to have to dig deeper and expand wider to get where they need to go. 


The tactics and the ecosystem that got us to a billion is not the ecosystem that will get us to $2 billion and beyond. We have to look at this differently—it’s all going to be part of co-grow and nearbound.


The first step? Use the data and capabilities in Reveal and Allbound to seamlessly bring more partners raising their hands into the fold. 


We are thinking about how to improve our referral program which will directly help partners to market and sell with us, and provide the right incentives to work with us. We want to use Allbound for deal reg for different partner types because anyone can send in referrals and we send referrals out to partners all the time. My take on this is really simple: a Partner is a Partner. Period. I don’t care what kind of partner you are (ISV, SI, etc.) because if you’re out building with and recommending Box, I wanna make that super easy for you to send us referrals and opportunities to work together. 


‘Come this way, we’ll help you out.’ 


I wanna be able to send 10 leads to partners for every one we get as we scale. With the data from Allbound and Reveal, I can say, ‘These are the accounts that we’ve engaged with. This is who we formally referred to you. And here’s the impact on our business and yours. And most importantly, here is the impact on the customer.’ Having the data around this is key. It’s not just the deal reg but how we use the account mapping data, pipeline data, influencer information, and partner signals to drive valuable campaigns on both sides. 



Dan and his team have been able to accomplish so much since implementing a nearbound strategy, including: 

  • The biggest deals this year, last year, and the previous year were all co-sold with partners. Working with partners is the fast track to the President’s Club.

  • 92% larger average contract values (ACV), with a higher attach rate of their top product 

  • 55% higher potential ARR closed, meaning they win more of the seats. When they work with partners, the pie gets bigger, and everyone gets a bigger slice.

  • 27% shorter average deal cycles

But the work is far from done. 


Dan has his sights locked on Mount $2 Billion and beyond, and while that will require a lot of changes, executing nearbound with the help of Allbound and Reveal isn’t one happening any time soon. 



Ready to see how to co-sell, co-keep, and co-grow with Allbound? Get a demo here


Or talk to a Reveal expert on how to start your nearbound strategy today. 


Shawnie Hamer 15 min

Box’s Partnership Journey: Nearbound, Allbound, Glory-bound

Learn from Dan O'Leary how to optimize and streamline partnership processes, focus on nearbound strategies, co-sell initiatives, and long-term relationship building.

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