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The CN Interview: Brad Dupee of Raindance

25 May, 2005

With more than 13 years experience in the telecommunication and technology industries, Brad Dupee brings to Raindance a comprehensive background in business development, marketing and sales management. As vice president of channel sales, Brad focuses on identifying and exploiting new channels for Raindance's web and phone conferencing services to form new revenue-generating relationships. Brad joined Raindance in June 1999 as vice president of business development. We caught up with Brad and asked about the new Raindance Channel Programs.

CN: What was a goal for 2004 that you are proud to have accomplished? And we're curious: what percent of Raindance revenues are derived from the reseller channel?

BD: Despite a more competitive market, the Raindance Channel Programs grew by 41% in 2004, representing 19% of all Raindance revenue (up from 15% in 2003). Itís clear that our partners are realizing the strengths of our channel programs, the simplicity of selling Raindanceís services and the monetary benefits of selling conferencing to their customers alongside other core telecom offerings.

CN: We understand you are changing the agent and reseller programs and re-launching them as the Business Partner Program and the Wholesale Partner Program. What has changed?

BD: Our relaunched Business Partner Program is a result of the maturation of the agent program over the last five years and that we believe our partners deserve more than they can get from our competitors. With the success of our program and partners, Raindance needed to develop new layers of support and differentiation as well as more clearly understand our partnersí level of commitment. Our redesigned program offers performing partners more resources from Raindance. There are now revenue commitments and program benefits associated to each of the three program levels: bronze, silver and gold. The tiered program provides a measurable support system based on partnersí dedication and achievements. When we decided to relaunch the program, we decided it was also the ideal time to change the program name for two reasons. First, we wanted our telecom agent channel to feel more connected to us and secondly, we wanted to expand the program name to include partners who donít necessarily refer to themselves as agents, but rather sales representatives, sales partners and consultants.

Our Wholesale Program, formerly the Reseller Program, allows partners to buy and rebrand conferencing services along with event management services at wholesale prices. The Reseller Program needed a change as well because at times the name created confusion. ĎResellingí has multiple meanings in business, especially across various industries. It simply wasnít clear enough. In the wholesale marketplace, volume is the driver, and changing the program name to the Wholesale Program added clarity to our two channel programs and their specific intent in the telecom channel market.

CN: Brad, tell us about how you support your partners. What type of company should partner with Raindance? What do you think sets you apart?

BD: Our Business Partner Program is for telecom sales companies who act as trusted advisors to their customers. Advisors are absolutely necessary for telecom consultancy and for purchasing multiple services, such as voice, data and conferencing. Some of these partners in the telecom space include: master agents, independent agents and consultants, value-added resellers (VARs) or marketing communications firms who advise their clients on business communication services. Raindance believes that supporting its customers and partners is a top priority and a truly distinguishing feature of our program. From dedicated channel development managers that assist in selling and marketing to an extensive extranet of sales resources, our program is designed to make partnering with Raindance a smart investment. We understand that agents and sales partners need to work with a service provider that is responsive and easy to do business with so, we focus on exceeding expectations. It is our goal to continue to respond to our partnersí requests and evolve to the changing demands of the marketplace. For instance, we realized that if partners could visit our headquarters to tour our state-of-the-art data center, meet with executives and get customized trainings, it would help them sell more strategically and keep Raindance top-of-mind. So we developed a two-day, on-site development program as a special invitation-only event to further build relationships and stand out from the crowd of service providers vying for attention.

Our Wholesale Program is tailored towards two specific channels, the first being telecom service providers that cater to business customers, like Local Exchange Carriers (LECs), Conferencing Service Providers (CSPs), VoIP service/application providers and unified messaging service providers. The second channel includes professional services firms specializing in online event services and remote trainings. People and service are paramount in any successful channel program which is why the wholesale management team is focused on providing exceptional comprehensive support. We strive to exceed our partnersí expectations by providing everything from customized on-site trainings and reporting to special sales incentives and technical support that sets us apart from our competitors.

CN: What level of integration exists between the wholesale partners and Raindance? For instance, tell us about how your billing data works.

BD: When it comes to integration, billing is one of the most important areas for a wholesale partner. We provide nightly, accurate CDR files to our partners for billing purposes. I stress accurate because thatís not something thatís safe to assume in the marketplace. A lot of our partners come to us from another provider for our billing and data capabilities. Many of them have horror stories about late billing files filled with inaccurate minutes and/or charges. Not only does this affect the cash flow for partners, it also jeopardizes their existing customer base because of the poor communication. Conferencing clients expect to be billed correctly and we are very proud of the fact that our files are accurate and timely for our partners.

Unlike many channel programs, we think about the business relationship differently. We view ourselves as our partnersí back-office and a part of our partnersí organization. This mindset creates a loyalty with them and an operational level of support that raises the bar in the conferencing industry. Our channel programs are a priority all the way up to the executive level and evident in this teamís performance. The people and programs at Raindance exemplify the kind of partner sought in any business relationship.

CN: What are the partner benefits of the new Business Partner Program? Are there different program levels to choose from when joining?

BD: Our new program provides tiers for different levels of commitment and support. As always, the same great Raindance sales support is available at any level, but additional program benefits include: marketing development funds, better margins and access to sales contests for those partners who perform well. What these levels really do is allow us to provide even deeper support for those companies that are investing in selling Raindance. And it gives us the ability to provide additional funding and allocation of channel sales resources necessary to be the best in the conferencing business.

CN: What is new and exciting for the rest of 2005?

Later this year weíll be launching Raindance Seminar Edition, our latest web seminar service that is built on the same reliable and flexible architecture as Raindance Meeting Edition. Raindance Seminar Edition, as the name suggests, is designed for large-scale marketing and training events in a one-to-many setting. Itís a powerful tool that allows users to conduct engaging online events at a fraction of the cost of an on-site meeting.

Raindance has always developed integrated, business-class collaboration tools that are designed for simplicity, but sophisticated enough for advanced users. This new tool will demonstrate our focus on ease-of-use yet again. Weíre excited about the upcoming announcement and look forward to the industry response.

Thanks, Brad. Good luck with the Raindance Partner Programs.


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