How can manufacturers and software vendors help their channel partners to sell more? Is it simply the responsibility of the individual reseller, or does the manufacturer have a responsibility to help their channel partners succeed?
The ultimate goal of any channel management team is to drive better sales results from the channel partners they manage. There are many sources of best practices for improving channel partner performance, but the critical first step is to ensure that the team have already completed a channel management training course.
How can you determine which partners have the capability to become star performers that will help your company to achieve its strategic goals? How can you identify which partners may end up holding you back and either require more channel management support, or removed from your program? In other words, what are the best practices to evaluate and manage your channel partners’ performance?
A good Launchpad for this process is to hold a review meeting with all of the relevant stakeholders. Obviously this should be scheduled for a time when significant progress should have been already made against the previously agreed joint business plan. It should be a more formal meeting with relevant stakeholders and an effective structure. The plan should determine who should attend (e.g. Sales, Marketing, Training, Technical and any other relevant team members from both sides), and the agenda (an agreed structure with accurate data to inform the review process). The use of data for the meeting is particularly important as we want to avoid simply relying on opinions.
The channel management team may also consider developing a capability scorecard for the partner. This can be used to benchmark partners against one another as well as identifying capability gaps for your channel partners. You may decide to share their results with partners comparing their results versus the average and top performers. This can often form the basis of a roadmap for long-term success.
Best practice suggests that marketing metrics should be used during the meeting, and some of these might include?
- What is the overall marketing ROI (ROMI)?
- How many MDF claims by the partner have been accepted/denied during the period under evaluation?
- What is the amount per claim?
- How much sales pipeline was created during the period under evaluation?
- Marketing Qualified Leads versus Sales Qualified Leads.
- What is the trajectory?
- What progress has the partner made with joint digital marketing campaigns with the manufacturer?
Other metrics for the period could analyse the trajectory for areas such as:
- How profitable is the partnership?
- What is the overall level of engagement like?
- Training, events, social media, content marketing
- Does the partner specialize in a particular solution area?
- Are they becoming expert in a high priority emerging solution / technology / industry?
The joint business plan should have already identified what the process for accountability and addressing failures should be, and this should be used as a guide during the meeting. The meeting should revolve around metrics and data as much as possible focusing on areas such as marketing, sales, training, finance, product development / extension / intellectual property and of course any miscellaneous areas of relevance.
Once the review of the previous period has been completed it is then important to focus on the future, looking at next period planning. The following are sample marketing activities that could be considered for the purposes of planning.
- Develop a specific number of new joint case studies.
- Launch three digital co-marketing campaigns with the manufacturer.
- Register at least $100k in the deal registration system.
- Secure $40k in MDF funding from vendor marketing team.
Once the partner performance review is complete it is important to wrap it up formally. This should include an over review for the next period covering topics such as:
- Performance by the vendor.
- Performance by the partner.
- Vendor updates.
- Any other business.
- Schedule next review.
Promoting and managing partner performance is a critical activity in achieving success with channel partners. Effective channel management training on best practices will provide a solid foundation for channel management teams. Utilizing best practices for formal reviews and meetings with a solid follow up process will yield strong sales results and higher partner performance.