PODCAST 162: How to Turn Relationships into Revenue with Gauri Chawla

This week on the Sales Hacker podcast, we speak with Guari Chawla, Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances at inRiver.

Prior to joining inRiver, Gauri was the Head of Global Business Development and Alliances for Showpad and she has held positions at Marketo, Oracle, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Accenture. In this episode, we learn how her unique, strategic role is helping to drive 40% of inRiver’s revenue.

If you missed episode 161, check it out here: How to be the Most Productive Member on Your Team with Mike Levy

What You’ll Learn

  • Who Guari Chawla is and what she’s doing at inRiver
  • The influence a leader in the alliances has within an organization
  • The importance of partnerships and alliances — particularly as a scale-up

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Show Agenda and Timestamps

  1. Show introduction [00:10]
  2. About Guari and inRiver[1:52]
  3. Guari’s interesting title [6:19}
  4. How partnerships drive revenue [10:37]
  5. Why inRiver chose to double comp [12:54]
  6. Sam’s Corner [29:46]

Show Introduction [00:10]

Sam Jacobs: Hey, everybody. It’s Sam Jacobs. Welcome to The Sales Hacker Podcast. Today on the show we’ve got Gauri Chawla. Gauri is the Vice President of Global Partnerships and Alliances for inRiver. She is a long-time and career partnerships and alliances expert and maven, and also a sales leader.

She’s carved out partnerships and alliances as a really interesting category for your career that you may not have known about. So we spend a lot of time just talking about what is the job, what’s involved. It’s a great conversation.

Now, before we bring you this conversation, we want to thank our sponsors. Our first sponsor is Outreach, the number one sales engagement platform. Outreach revolutionizes customer engagement by moving away from solid conversations to a streamlined and customer-centric journey. Leveraging the next generation of artificial intelligence, the platform allows sales reps to deliver consistent, relevant, and responsible communication for each prospect every time, enabling personalization at scale previously unthinkable. Check out Outreach.io for more information.

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Speaking of the close, Proposify proposes a close at double the industry-standard rate. Sign up for a free trial or book a demo at proposify.com/saleshacker. Without further ado, let’s listen to my conversation with Gauri Chawla.

About Guari Chawla & inRiver[1:52]

Sam Jacobs: We’re incredibly excited to have Gauri Chawla on the show. Gauri is the Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances at inRiver. An industry veteran, Gauri has accumulated her acumen as a global business leader and growth driver.

Prior to joining inRiver, Gauri was the head of Global Business Development and Alliances for Showpad. There she developed a technology services ecosystem strategy, designed and launched a global team to manage sales, and drove pipeline development.

In her career, she’s held positions at Marketo, Oracle, IBM, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Accenture. She acquired a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Queen’s University in Canada and a JD in Intellectual Property, International Law, and Corporate Law from the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. Gauri, welcome to the show.

Gauri Chawla: Thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.

Sam Jacobs: Your title is Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances and you work at inRiver. What is inRiver? Tell us what inRiver does.

Gauri Chawla: InRiver is a product information management software. If you think about a retailer or a branded manufacturer or an industrial manufacturer that has a product they sell and they’re getting it out to their customers, they need to be able to curate their product in a way that gets out to the right channels and the right customers so that their customer’ have a good experience. That’s what we do is we bring in the data and the product from the source,

The interesting title [6:19]

Sam Jacobs: Your title is VP of Global Partners and Alliances. We have so many VPs of sales, VPs of marketing on here, but not as many people focused on the channel, focused on partnerships. So for the listeners out there, tell us what you do. What’s your job description? What are your core responsibilities?

Gauri Chawla: Yeah. It’s an interesting title, right? Global Partners and Alliances. It could mean so many things. I will break it down so it’s easier. Let me start at the revenue piece of it. I am basically leading our indirect revenue, which, in some cases, becomes direct. My team, which is a global team, actually helps drive about 40% of our business in terms of revenue.

Sam Jacobs: Wow!

Gauri Chawla: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. It’s very partner-led, but we also have an outstanding direct sales team as well. Then I have my partners and our direct sales team work together. So, I manage two parts of the ecosystem. One is our consulting partners; the other is our technology partners.

The revenue driver [10:37]

Gauri Chawla: We also drive a lot of the business, like I said, which surprises a lot of people. It’s such an integral part of inRiver because it touches every single part, sales, marketing, product, support, et cetera.

A lot of people think about partners and alliances in different ways. There’s so much that we do that we really do become the central part of the revenue — especially for a startup or a scale-up, it’s a great way to drive your business.

The double comp [12:51]

Sam Jacobs: When I’ve run channel teams, there’s always a little bit of a tension between the direct team and the channel team, where sometimes somebody outside of both of those organizations is saying, “We can’t pay both the channel and the salesperson commission on that deal. We need to pay one or the other. Otherwise, it’s dramatically increasing our cost of sale.” Do you find any of that?

Gauri Chawla: No. The way that I’ve KPI’d my team is really a big portion of it is getting the deal closed, and that means working directly with the salesperson. And so, we’ve made a decision to comp both. Then I also have a KPI on the pipeline build from my team, which is pretty high standard. It has to be in certain stages and they have to hit certain pipeline numbers within the quarter because that keeps the sales momentum going each quarter if we’re doing it right.

Sam’s Corner [29:46]

Sam Jacobs: I really enjoyed that conversation with Gauri Chawla. The role is just a very specific nuanced role, and yet, as she mentioned, her job drives 40% of the revenue at inRiver. She’s in touch with cutting-edge innovation and therefore, in some ways, responsible or directly contributing to corporate development.

It’s an incredibly strategic role. She sits at the center of so many different things. She has influence and oversight over the sales team, the partnerships and the ecosystem, and is the system integrator of all of those big companies like Deloitte, PWC, and Accenture.

It’s a job that’s often misunderstood and overlooked. Yet, in many ways, Gauri is one of the people on the clearest path to being CEO of inRiver, which I just think is really fascinating and interesting. I think not enough people know about the concept of partnerships and alliances and how critical it can be, particularly if you’re in a scale-up.

If you’re in a startup finding product-market fit, you probably want to do most things directly, just to understand the market and ecosystem. But as you grow, partnerships become a really important part of how you might grow.

So, it’s something to think about. I really enjoyed the conversation. A lot of great insights.

Don’t miss episode 163!

I hope you enjoyed the show. We want to thank our sponsor, Proposify. Proposify proposals close at double the industry-standard rate. So make sure your proposals are up to snuff by using Proposify. Sign up for a free trial or book a demo at proposify.com/saleshacker.

If you want to reach out to me with feedback, you can find me on LinkedIn. If you haven’t rated the show, please give us five stars on the iTunes rating system so that we can remain in business and continue to bring you this show.

As always, thanks so much for listening, I’ll talk to you next time.

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