One of the best ways to boost revenue is to use channel partners as part of your sales and marketing strategy. Tapping into channel partner markets can dramatically increase your reach far past what your direct sales team can do. And as with any important initiative within your business, you need to periodically measure the success of your channel partner program.
The obvious measure of success is increased revenue. No question. But what other things should you be paying attention to when it comes to measuring your channel partner program? What elements of your program keep channel partners interested enough to stay active? Is your investment appropriate for the return? What are the best KPIs to measure channel partner engagement? We have some recommendations for taking stock of your channel partner program engagement and share them here.
Margins. If a channel partner isn’t making money with you, they’ll exit. It’s pretty simple. If margins are too low and there is no significant profitability, it won’t take long for them to disappear in search of greener pastures.
Churn. Both you and your channel partners make a considerable time investment before the relationship starts to produce real ROI. If you find that you’re seeing a lot of partner churn, you can bet that your program isn’t delivering in one or more areas and you need to bring things in line for everyone’s benefit.
Portal log-ins. Communication is vital in every channel partner relationship and you should see regular access to your channel portal as an indicator that you have valuable content. But if your content is stale or irrelevant you’ll lose repeat visitors. You should also review your portal’s functionality occasionally to make sure experiences are frictionless. If your portal isn’t up to speed, you’ll quickly lose partners who don’t want to deal with the frustrations.
Customer meetings and conference attendance. Keeping track of customer meetings is a good indicator of how proactive your channel partners are when it comes to promoting and selling your products. You can also gauge partner engagement when it comes to conference and event attendance. They should actively seek industry events but if they don’t attend your conferences and events, you know you have a problem with their level of interest.
Content downloads. Sales of your products will require sales collateral to be shared with prospects and customers. If your channel partners aren’t taking advantage of the content available to them, you can probably be sure they aren’t making sales calls either. There is a chance that they don’t think the content is relevant or appropriate and they’re not accessing it for that reason. However, it’s a good idea to check in to get a better view when downloads fall off.
Marketing campaigns. As an extension of content downloads, you should be able to gauge partner interest by the number of marketing campaigns they launch to promote your products. If the scope of the campaigns they do run tend toward deep information, you should be secure in the knowledge that they have taken a sincere interest in your business and are working to promote products and solutions.
Training and certifications. Training is critical to stay current on products and solutions so if you see a downturn in training sessions, you’re probably looking at a lack of interest in investing further in your company. Certifications are also important, especially in the IT world, so any decline in certifications should signal that your product and company are probably no longer a priority for partners.
Demos completed. Most B2B products require a demo at some point during the sales cycle. When completed demos stop appearing in sales activity it’s a good sign that prospects haven’t progressed very far in their interest with the channel partner and you need to investigate.
Customer satisfaction. This element is a softer KPI because it’s hard for companies to get a read on end customer satisfaction when there is a channel partner in between. However, if you get a sense that the partner relationship with the customer isn’t as strong as it could be, or has been in the past, you’ll want to step in to course correct if necessary.
A healthy channel partner program can be a real asset for a business, especially when it’s operating well. But it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for performance improvement possibilities to make the partnership a plus for everyone involved.
Helping partners navigate the buyer journey
Gone are the days when partners fought to establish their credentials with a large vendor. Today, it’s the vendors themselves who are under increasing pressure to ‘wow’ partners who themselves can have multiple relationships with multiple tech companies. So what’s your ‘next best move?