CRN Exclusive: Talkdesk CEO On Doubling Engineering Team, Leveraging The Channel As Growth Engine To Reach 'The Next Level'


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Talkdesk is growing its engineering team by leaps and bounds. At the same time, the burgeoning cloud-based contact center company also wants to substantially boost sales through the channel.

At this time last year, San Francisco-based Talkdesk earned nearly all of its revenue through direct sales. With a few strategic partners under its belt, the company is already seeing a big uptick in channel sales, and Talkdesk wants to generate 60 percent of its sales though partners this year, Tiago Paiva, CEO of Talkdesk, told CRN.

Talkdesk in October brought on former ShoreTel channel executive Jon Heaps as its vice president of channels. Since then, the channel has become the company's fastest-growing segment.

[Related: CRN Exclusive: Intelisys Calls Contact-Center-As-A-Service A Multibillion Dollar Opportunity For Partners]

 "The channel is our biggest play right now, and it will continue to be the main way we do business," Paiva said.  

That's because large contact center deals can be complicated for businesses to buy on their own. "Companies are relying on partners to help them make the purchase, and by not using the channel we were missing a big opportunity," he said.

Talkdesk works with telecom agent partners through its relationships with four of the largest master agencies, including Intelisys and Telarus.

To show its commitment to the channel, Talkdesk is offering a sales promotion for its partners that promises two times the commission for partners that close a multiyear Talkdesk license deal over competing products. Partners will receive twice the commission for a full 12-month period, according to the company.

To help with the company's engineering team expansion efforts, Talkdesk has brought on industry veteran Michael Reed as senior vice president of engineering.

With more than two decades of experience under his belt, Reed has led global software engineering efforts for HP, Microsoft and AOL. Most recently, Reed helped redesign HP’s enterprise cloud services architecture. He also worked to re-architect and scale UCaaS provider RingCentral’s platform.

Talkdesk in 2015 had five engineers, and today has a staff of 300. Reed will be tasked with growing this team to 500 developers, programmers, architects and engineers over the next 18 months.

The robust engineering team will help channel partners focus on landing more contact center sales with a product centered on customer experience, Paiva said.

"We're really focused on being an engineering company, not just a sales company. Our core competency is product," Paiva said. "More engineers allow us to make customers and their partners happier."

In addition to building out the engineering team, Reed and the engineering team will work to bring new features, integrations and applications to the Contact-Center-as-a-Service (CCaaS) market as fast as possible, Paiva said.

Talkdesk also just released a new enterprise platform, which Reed will help the company scale to fulfill the needs of the larger customers that Talkdesk and its partner base are landing, Paiva said.

"Every time you grow, there's new challenges, and we want to make sure everything will scale to the next level."

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