Avalara Promises Partners More Service Work Amid Program Investment
Wade Tyler Millward
‘This year, it has been my passion and my mission to make sure that we are telling that story of how Avalara was founded, that we are a partner-first business. ... And I need everybody at Avalara to understand the importance of partners and the role that they play in our business—to make sure that they treat them like they treat our customers,’ Meg Higgins, Avalara’s channel chief, tells CRN.
Tax compliance software vendor Avalara is investing in its partner program, which includes a partner-focused event in November, a new partner relationship management system in January and more services and implementation projects getting pushed to the channel.
Meg Higgins, promoted over the summer to Avalara’s channel chief —officially, the senior vice president of global partners—told CRN that the Seattle-based vendor has added partner measures to the key performance indicators (KPIs) of employees even outside the partner organization.
“This year, it has been my passion and my mission to make sure that we are telling that story of how Avalara was founded, that we are a partner-first business,” Higgins said. “We love our partners. I love our partners. And I need everybody at Avalara to understand the importance of partners and the role that they play in our business—to make sure that they treat them like they treat our customers. … They all go hand in hand.”
Avalara Invests In Partners
Kai Ranabargar, principal of San Marino, Calif.-based Avalara partner Tax Technology Group, told CRN that his Avalara practice has continued to keep him and his three full-time employees busy despite concerns around inflation in the U.S. and concerns of a potential recession.
He expects his business to grow between 10 percent and 20 percent in 2023 compared with last year and looks forward to Avalara pushing more implementation work to the channel.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s a boom economic cycle, people need these solutions,” Ranabargar said. “If it’s a bust and they’re getting audited, then they feel the pain, so then they have to do it. It doesn’t matter. It’s busy all the time.”
At least 80 percent of Avalara customers use a partner, said Higgins, a CRN 2022 Women of the Channel member who joined the vendor in 2019.
Greg Chapman, previously Avalara’s senior vice president of global partnerships and channels, became the vendor’s senior vice president and head of European operations late last year, according to the company.
In October, private equity firm Vista Equity Partners completed its acquisition of Avalara for $8.4 billion.
The vendor plans to improve on the partner program throughout 2024 after debuting a PRM system with self-service, on-boarding and other features for partners. Larger partners will have access to Avalara’s business development and recruitment team for support.
From Nov. 14 to 16 is Avalara Fuse in Boca Raton, Fla., the vendor’s partner-focused event with panels and speeches around scaling Avalara businesses, co-marketing, resisting a potential recession and more.
On the product side, Avalara has been at work adding generative AI capabilities to its offerings. In June, the vendor announced an integrated plugin for ChatGPT—the text-generator program created by Microsoft-backed OpenAI—that allows users to get sales tax rate calculations and research based on location.
This made Avalara the first tax compliance software vendor to work with OpenAI on an integrated plugin for ChatGPT, according to Avalara.
“We’re leveraging that for content. We’re going to be leveraging that for support. We have a lot of really interesting projects that are going on around leveraging generative AI,” Higgins said.
Avalara is also at work on its low-code Integration Studio to ease adoption of the vendor’s offerings and bringing its E-Invoicing and Live Reporting product to market for users working with overseas value-added and goods and services taxes, she said.
Here is more of what Higgins had to say is in store for Avalara partners.