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What Every Channel Professional Needs to Know About Customer Data

From spreadsheets to platform automation, there is a better way to handle data

By T.C. Doyle

We can put a drone on Mars but we cannot automate data sharing to help grow our businesses?

For many tech vendors, this is sadly true. If you’re still passing customer information in spreadsheets shared via email, you’re woefully behind the curve, says Cassandra Gholston, co-founder and CEO at Partnertap.

A veteran of the enterprise software industry and member of the Impartner Channel Chief Advisory Board (CCAB), Gholston looks forward to the day when every vendor adopts channel management automation technology. But even those that leverage Partner Relationship Management (PRM) technology have questions when it comes to responsible and effective data sharing. Partnertap, a Seattle-area tech consultancy that specializes is helping software companies better coordinate sales activities with partners, knows why.

Vendors struggle to implement best practices because they don’t understand the full scope of data they collect from customers, partners and more, Gholston explains in a new “Lessons from the Edge” video. But best practices are exactly what they need. This is more true than ever given increased scrutiny around regulatory concerns including GDPR, and the increased interest in doing business through partners as a result of the global pandemic.

Data management has never been more important, Gholston says, but it remains an underdeveloped skill at many companies. One reason: many channel professionals are unsure how to conceptualize working with their data.

“When I think about data sharing, I think about it in three buckets,” says Gholston. These include pre-pipeline data, pipeline data and closed or won business data.

If you can identify who needs what data, when, for how long and for what purpose, you can put it to use more effectively and responsibly, Gholston says. Miss any one of those important steps and you could end up with disgruntled customers, partners or both.

Another tip: develop a realistic expectation of what partners will share with your company and when.

“If you build your program around certain expectations about partners and their data sharing, you will be sorely disappointed until you build a level of trust with individual partners,” says Gholston. Close partners will share information and insights willingly because they have trust in your organization. But newcomers with no track record with your team, technology or processes? Good luck with that, she adds.

For more on data sharing and channels management, don’t miss this latest, “Lessons from the Edge” video Q&A with Gholston, which can be found here.

T.C. Doyle is the Channel Growth Evangelist at Impartner, the leader in channel management and Partner Relationship Management (PRM) technology. A journalist, book author and analyst, Doyle has worked in media for three decades. As channel evangelist, Doyle produces podcasts, case studies, e-books and more for Impartner. Doyle can be reached at tc.doyle@impartner.com.