"It's not me, it's you" - Time to break up with your channel partners?

27th October 2022

With 2023 around the corner channel marketers are starting the planning process. But, before those plans are thought through, now is the perfect time to audit the channel network, before time, attention and investment are put on the "wrong" partners.

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Measuring the success of your partner channel

Measuring success in any business can be difficult, we now have access to more data and statistics than ever and so choosing the right metrics can be challenging.

Yet to manage your channel successfully, you must measure how each partner is performing. Not only to make sure your organisation hits revenue and profit goals, but also to ensure that you understand where partners might need support and what tools they need.

Revenue is often at the heart of how we measure a partner’s success

For any commercial organisation revenue and profit are key drivers and we often set our partners revenue targets. And while this is an important metric, it shouldn’t be the only factor we consider.

Today’s buyers have choices, and they vote with their feet, and that’s true in both B2C and B2B. So, revenue in this quarter or half doesn’t necessarily mean recurring revenue in the longer term.

The value of customer experience

The experience a customer has with you or your partner during the buying cycle and beyond can have a huge impact on how loyal they are and ultimately how long they remain a customer.

And it’s this loyalty that generates the true lifetime value of a customer, not only in terms of revenue but also advocacy of your brand, products, and services. Setting purely revenue goals for your partners can, in some circumstances, lead to a shortfall in customer service and a lack of long-term loyalty; as well as some unhealthy behaviours.

There are several metrics you can put in place to measure how well your partners are managing customer experience, probably one of the most well-known is Net Promoter Score (NPS). NPS is based around how likely customers are to recommend your organisation, product, service, or partner to others. Much has also been written about the correlation between an organisation’s NPS score and its brand equity.

For a more detailed measure of customer experience, you could use Moments of Truth. By mapping out the key interactions a customer has before, during and after the sales process, and where an opinion is likely to be formed about your brand, you can identify where there are disparities and work on these specific areas to improve customer experience. Of course, this can be a more complex exercise in a channel business as many touch points will involve the customer, partner, and vendor, each with their own opinion.

Start with the end in mind…

Understanding what your organisation is hoping to achieve is critical for any business planning, and it’s no different with a channel. Before you can effectively support, measure, and manage your channel you must understand it’s purpose.
What is it that your organisation wants from a channel? Is it purely an extension of your sales team? Is it expertise in specific vertical sectors or something else entirely?

Once you’re clear about this you can start to look at your existing partners more objectively to understand if you have the right type and mix of partners to continue to drive your growth plans.

A great way to do this is to carry out an audit. By performing an audit of your channel partners, you should be able to identify three types of partners:

1. Partners that are doing a good job and should be focused on.
2. Partners of opportunity, those that are doing enough, but who you know have more potential.
3. Partners that are not engaging, progressing, or generating revenue (Perhaps just using your logo to attract business...we've all seen it done, haven't we)

The number of partners that fit into these categories will then determine whether you should be investing more in some partners than others, whether there are partners you should cull from the network, and whether you should be looking for new partners.

By taking this step back from the day to day and not just doing the same thing again and again, you will be able to get the right mix of partners to deliver what your business needs from its channel.

If you need help with a partner audit, then drop us a line. And not only can we help with audits, we can work with you on boosting all aspects of your partner programs. Here's how we helped Microsoft recruit, onboard and get up to speed more of the "right partners" for them, generating multimillions of dollars in pipeline and revenue. 

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