Do I Have the Analytical Tools Needed To Gain Insight Into My Channel Performance?

For the last decade, organizations with direct sales teams have perfected the analytical tools necessary to predict results, track performance of individual reps, and bring an atmosphere of sophistication and control to direct sales. Unfortunately, the indirect sales channel, which by most estimates makes up as much as 80 percent of technology sales, has flown largely under the radar. In 2015 and 2016, Impartner has seen a dramatic shift in this area. As more companies turn to indirect sales to deliver on their growth needs, the level of scrutiny with which they manage their channel partners has matured. In an effort to bring predictability, repeatability and scalability to their indirect channel, data and analytics have taken center stage. We recommend that modern-day Channel Chiefs focus on four key deliverables:

  1. Telemetry!

    The primary key to unlocking performance is knowledge; data on as many aspects of your channel program as you can track. Begin tracking and reporting on the metrics that you intuitively think will map to your success, but keep in mind that even metrics you may not immediately have a need for will become useful over time as you build a stockpile of data to analyze.

  2. Dashboard:

    With good telemetry flowing in, the next key step is building a dashboard of what’s critical to your business. While it may feel unnatural at first, setting goals in key business areas and tracking progress to those goals will really move the dial in the right direction. We suggest a few key metrics that must be in the mix: how long it takes your partners to engage with leads that are passed to them; how many deals they generate on their own vs. using your leads; and what ROI your individual marketing programs are generating, (P.S. You’d be amazed at how few vendors effectively track ROI. Most devolve into “yes, it seemed like a good event, we had lots of people there...”)

  3. Leaderboards:

    Your channel partners are by nature an extremely competitive group. If you don’t believe me, try turning on a “Community” type of feature and expecting partners to share tips and tricks with each other, as your customers probably currently do. What works for a customer community will simply not work for the channel – they’re way too competitive with each other. But you can and should turn that into a benefit for you. Publishing key metrics to the entire channel where a set of 10 partners show up as “leaders” in certain areas will whip them into a competitive frenzy.

  4. Cull the herd:

    Don’t follow the advice on a shampoo bottle: lather, rinse, repeat. (In the channel that equates to recruit, harvest, repeat…) Too many vendors recruit and onboard new partners, sell to their existing customer base, and then move on to the next partner. You must make the tough choice of cutting the non-productive partners out of your program. It’s good for the overall health of the group, and you don’t realize until you’re done what a drag non-productive partners can be to your business.

This post by Dave R Taylor, Impartner CMO, was recently published in our new eBook, The Top 10 Things Making Channel Chiefs into Insomniacs, and What to do About It. In creating this guide for Channel Chiefs, we tapped our network of top channel strategists to provide thoughtful, meaty, practical advice on Chiefs' key questions about the market today. Click here to down full eBook for recommendations that will help you transform your channel operations, accelerate your indirect sales — and sleep peacefully.

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