Your channel program is up and running, your new channel partners are on-board, joint business plans have been agreed. What now?
Now comes the real work. Identifying which partners have the capability to become your star performers that will help your company to achieve its strategic goals. It’s also time to start learning which partners may end up holding you back and either need more channel management support, or be dropped. In other words, it is time to evaluate and manage your channel partners’ performance.
The first step 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:
- Who should attend?
- Sales, Marketing, Training, Technical and any other relevant team members from both sides.
- What will be the agenda?
- An agreed structure is important.
- Accurate data must be available to inform the review process. Try to avoid relying on opinions.
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.
What are some examples of the metrics that could be used? Well for example, best practices in channel management training suggests that marketing metrics might include:
- Overall marketing ROI (ROMI)
- How many MDF claims by the partner have been accepted/denied during period?
- What is the amount per claim?
- What pipeline was created during the period?
- MQL’s V SQL’s
- What is the trend?
- What progress has the partner made with digital marketing?
- If this is important to the vendor
And miscellaneous metrics for the period could analyse the trend for items such as:
- Partner profitability
- Overall engagement
- Training, events, social media, content marketing
- Solution specialization
- Are they becoming expert in a high priority emerging solution / technology / industry?
All of this data could be presented in an easily digestible format such as a KPI Scorecard, often used in channel management.
|Sales||$100k||$70k||Decisions pushed to next Q|
|Marketing||50 SQLs||70 SQLs||Improve conversions.|
|Training||3 SEs trained||3 SEs trained||On track|
|Product||New Beta||Completed||On track|
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.
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.
- Develop two new joint case studies.
- Work with vendor marketing team to launch 4 digital co-marketing campaigns.
- Get at least $50k entered into vendor deal registration system.
- Secure $25k in co-op and MDF marketing funding from vendor marketing team.
- Co-host booth with vendor at XYZ event.
Once the partner performance review is complete it is important to wrap it up formally. This should include a general discussion for the next period covering:
- Performance by the partner.
- Performance by the vendor.
- Vendor updates.
- Any other business.
- Schedule next review.
Evaluating partner performance is a critical task for channel managers to assess partner performance versus targets on KPIs that are aligned to strategy. A formal structure and agenda for the meeting is essential and should include a discussion of targets and actions for the next quarter. It can also be helpful to discuss long-term capability development and future value-add.