Meshach Amuah-Fuster is the Managing Director EMEA for Partner Relationship Management (PRM) platform Allbound. We recently caught up with him to find out how Covid-19 has impacted his working life.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As Managing Director EMEAA, my role is to drive growth for Allbound across the region, and promote brand awareness and deliver value to those looking to leverage their channel partner ecosystem. This is achieved by our clients working with their partners who either refer opportunities to them or who actually sell the products and services on their behalf.
Headquartered in the US, we had 15% of our global revenue organically coming from Europe prior to having boots on the ground here. Now we have more than double that percentage coverage since setting up our London operations.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic?
I’m an early riser and with remote working, I have even more time to spend in the gym before work, which is great. It’s the best time for me to fit in exercise as I generally work until about 11pm, at which point the last thing I want to do is hit the cycling machine! I find that despite getting a lot of time back, the ‘new norm’ has made people busier and like many others in my position, a standard day consists of back-to-back Zoom calls and Slack chats.
I find myself working more hours and time spent is more productive with the absence of face-to face meetings, which require travel and signing people in, etc, but I’ve learnt that it’s important to schedule breaks.
At the end of the day, it’s a short commute to the kitchen to indulge in my other passion, cooking. I gave up eating meat four years ago and haven’t looked back but it does mean you have to be creative. Not quite Ainsley Harriott but definitely giving him a run for his money!
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Zoom by default, primarily because my team and I spend a significant amount of our time utilising it. It’s super easy to use and I’ve been an advocate since it launched, so it’s great to see everyone using it. I used to work in the conferencing space and knew the team there were onto something great. Gong is also superb; more on that below.
Which companies have impressed you during the pandemic?
It’s fair to say most successful companies don’t necessarily create something new; rather, they take something that already exists and improve it. Call recordings have been around for a long time, but Gong has taken the baton and run with it, adding unique AI capabilities that are really impressive.
It allows you to hone in on specific parts of a recorded call and delivers insightful metrics around conversations, such as what percentage of the call is spoken by a particular participant, how patient someone is, and ultimately allows you to track engagement to fine-tune the sales process. It is essential to sales teams in my opinion, especially now that nearly all interactions are happening remotely.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
Whilst we are in a fortunate position to have increased platform usage, we’re really ensuring that we frame our solution around real problems that clients and suitable prospects are facing right now.
As someone who was affected during the 2008 financial crash, my experience of a downturn helps me empathise with the challenges many are undergoing. So what we’re trying to do is demonstrate to our audience that Allbound can be used in a way that helps people have greater accountability at a time when every part of the sales funnel is under increased scrutiny, and in some instances, outline how we help their company stay afloat by maximising revenue from partners.
I think many businesses that have benefitted from the lockdown, from food delivery companies and grocers to remote working solutions, have acted appropriately by taking the ‘we’re doing well but we’re going to make this process even easier because it is something people need’ approach – and that’s exactly what we’re doing.
What trends have you seen in the last few weeks in your sector?
Like ecommerce, PRM is one of those areas that has been growing for some time but has experienced a significant acceleration of that growth because of Covid. There’s a massive population out there that has an online presence but didn’t really engage fully – until now.
Historically, part of a Partner Manager’s role was to fly around the world entertaining partners, taking them out for a nice grass-fed Argentinian steak accompanied by your finest Merlot, and looking after them in general. But suddenly, the role has become more of a crucial cog in revenue development of businesses and the level of accountability of that side of the organisation has increased, partly due to the absence of face-to-face interaction.
Overall, the market has acknowledged the lowered barriers to entry of running a successful partner strategy. It is no longer reserved for the 800-pound gorillas like Microsoft or HP as the tools and platforms are out there to help smaller firms leverage networks. The pandemic has shown us that hedging your bets by leveraging a network, rather than just your direct sales function, will reduce revenue decline and add greater opportunity for growth.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
At a micro level, really try and understand the human factor that causes higher conversion rates – I joined LinkedIn in February 2006 because a lot of people that I trusted had joined; I became an Arsenal fan at five because my friends in my class were and wanted to fit in. When shopping for goods and services online, I seldom look for items that have anything below 4/5 stars.
The point is that people buy based on referrals and social proof. More marketing budgets should be spent here. At a broader level, embrace change and use it to your advantage. Change is uncomfortable but it’s paramount to long-term success. Always try and understand new products and be ahead of the curve. Challenge the status quo. Those who are able to do this effectively win more often. Why play it safe?
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
Expanding London and Europe operations. Because Europe is uniquely placed and has differentiated cultures, my vision is to establish an Allbound presence in multiple European markets and I envisage a lot of traction for us in Benelux, DACH, the Nordics and SEUR.
I don’t see the lockdown affecting the hiring process as before Covid, I was one of maybe eight in the running for my position. I was also the only one that couldn’t physically meet, yet was hired. I’ve made some fantastic hires during the lockdown and look forward to continuing this in our chosen markets. Aside from this, we are working on further product enhancements to bolster our market-leading position as being at the forefront of cutting-edge PRM technology.