**Editor's Note: MasterMinds is a biweekly feature in which we invite leading master agents to share information, insights and expert opinions about what’s going on in their agencies, the IT/telecom channel or the business community in general.**
Since its inception in 2009, born-in-the-cloud master agent AVANT has operated in a mode of sales enablement. That mode became a full-blown business model this past August when the Chicago-based company announced the launch of AVANT SEaaS, its sales enablement-as-a-service (SEaaS) platform.
AVANT SEaaS utilizes an end-to-end life cycle approach for channel sales, starting with executive engagement and alignment on objectives, a sales enablement plan, and extensive tools and live support to accelerate revenue.
“We’re changing the game," Drew Lydecker, co-founder and president of AVANT, told Channel Partners. “We’re not a master, we’re not a distributor — we’re more than that. We’re calling ourselves a sales enablement-as-a-service provider for a lot of reasons, the primary one being that it just happens to be what we’ve always done.
“My partner [AVANT Co-founder and CEO Ian Kieninger] and I came from large VARs and knew that simply having a catalog of providers just doesn’t work to empower the VAR community," said Lydecker. “Disruptive technologies are everywhere, whether it’s in your consumer life or in your business life. There’s more choice than there’s ever been in the history of IT. There are more niche and small providers that could make major impacts in a large business. So how do you even get started? Enablement.
“Having a catalog, a large portfolio of providers is table stakes; you have to have that, it’s part of the process," said Lydecker. “But in order to make it move, you have to have enablement. And that’s how we came up with the core of what we do. We’re in the trenches developing technology and hand-holding throughout the entire process to allow our channel partners — VARs, system integrators, MSPS, agents, whatever the case may be — to really take advantage of the marketplace."
Alex Danyluk, AVANT’s chief strategy officer, explains the company’s approach this way: “AVANT is a channel sales enablement company first. It makes money by proving out channel sales enablement, then sharing in its success by offering the distribution of products and services.
“The distribution channel is trying to figure out how to transition from software distribution to the new cloud world," said Danyluk. “They’re trying to apply old models to the new world, and it’s not working. They’re all about driving operational efficiency and…