Every chef measures the ingredients they put into their recipes to ensure the right outcome; a channel leader should be no different.
Revenue is the ultimate measure of success in your Channel, but every quarter you only have a sense for the number you are going to hit and often times, it is very late in the quarter. All your focus shifts in the last 3 weeks of the quarter to those last few lingering deals. By now, you know if you are going to hit the number and it is critical to close those last few deals.
Shouldn’t you be measuring the top of funnel activity and early stage deal volume to better forecast where you will end up? Of course! You should be measuring both the results of your demand generation effort and early stage deal volume. To understand what you are going to get out of your Channel, you need visibility into the business development effort your Partners are putting into selling your solutions.
The problem is you lack the visibility you need to understand the performance of your Channel prior to revenue generation.
There are a handful of partial solutions that attempt to solve this problem. You have a Channel Management team that is responsible for building and supporting your Channel Partner Network but visibility is only marginally improved and not cost effective at scale. You have a multi-tiered Channel Program designed to incentivize and simulate Partner growth while establishing a baseline for Partner revenue generation based on each tier but this does not provide you with any visibility into the activity that is happening in the field. You deployed Partner Relationship Management (PRM) and a deal registration system, in order to gain visibility into pipeline generation but discovered that anywhere from 60% - 85% of the pipeline was never even recorded in either of these systems.
There are three things that matter most in Channel:
- Partners executing effective sales conversations with prospects
- Visibility into the effectiveness of these conversations and their outcomes
- Focus on the right Partners and the right deals
Recently a Channel Chief proudly stated to one of my SDR’s that he had this visibility problem under control. He was now able to track when a Partner downloads of a brochure and sends it to a customer. A tactical advantage but only a partial solution to the lack of visibility affecting his understanding of his Channel’s performance.
Ask yourself the following when planning your next channel campaign:
- How do we enable our Partners to execute an effective sales conversation in the meeting with a customer?
- How will we see that the effectiveness of the sales conversation with the prospect and the outcome they achieved?
- How can our Channel Management team be more effective and engage with the right Partners?
This will start you down a line of thinking that will lead you to a better place.