23 Metrics to Track for Real Insight into Your Channel Partnerships

Channel sales are notoriously challenging. Yet according to Accenture, over 70% of mid-sized to large high-tech enterprises depend on a network of channel partners —resellers, distributors, integrators and managed service providers —  to sell and support their products and services. Sure, there many channel juggernauts like Microsoft, Cisco and HP that generate 50-90% of their revenue through the channel, but there is also a new wave of hyper-growth, SaaS providers (see HubSpot) that are cranking as much as 30-40% of their revenue through their channel partners.

Unfortunately, traditional CRM and marketing automation tools don’t quite cut it when dealing with partners. There are too many moving parts on both the supplier side and the partner’s side that need to be administered and managed.

Many businesses stitch together an array of point solutions — some built internally and others purchased off the shelf — to address the immediate needs of their partners. This may take the form of using an existing CMS system for a partner portal, or Excel spreadsheets emailed to/from the partners to track deals, or the purchase of an off-the-shelf learning management system to train partners. Each of these discrete solutions may get the job done, but what kind of insight and analysis is gained from using these stove-piped solutions?

The age-old 80-20 rule (where 20% of partners generate 80% of revenue) has plagued the channel practically since its inception. It’s almost become accepted as the status quo. But why? Thankfully, a new generation of Partner Relationship Management (PRM) software has emerged that not only automates the many processes that come along with managing partners, but also delivers powerful business intelligence capabilities that can be used to track and correlate data within the various components of partner management.

This means that partner profile information is captured, stored, and managed within a unified system of record, and to it is added behavioral data about which partners are trained, certified, engaged, motivated, and driving sales. From this, data-driven insights can be drawn about channel program effectiveness across different geographies, partner types, industries, and product lines, which is invaluable to sales and marketing professionals who need to extend their business into new markets and find new opportunities for revenue growth.

What are the key metrics to track in the midst of this new data? Well, as you can imagine there is an almost endless variety that can be monitored and analyzed to track partner performance. In terms of focusing in on the most relevant and important, much of it depends on the individual doing the analysis and the role they plan in managing partners. Below are several short lists that each map to a different aspect of channel partner management:

Channel Operations Metrics

  • How many login credentials sent?
  • Portal login attempts vs. successes?
  • What is the average time spent on Portal?
  • What are they viewing, downloading, liking, forwarding?
  • What is the overall return rate/frequency of portal usage?
  • How many support calls are taken for the portal?
  • What is the portal uptime rate?

Channel Marketing Metrics

  • How many partners are using MDF (marketing development funds)?
  • How many MDF claims have been accepted/denied?
  • What is the cost per claim?
  • Partner emails sent/opened/CTR
  • How many partners are engaged on social media?
  • How many partners have registered/attended events?

Channel Sales Metrics

  • How many partner deals are currently registered?
  • What is the deal registration value?
  • How many deals have been accepted/denied?
  • How many deals have been won/lost?
  • What is the value of deals won
  • What is the deal velocity? (Time to approval, acceptance, won/lost)

Channel Training Metrics

  • How many courses have partners attended?
  • How many courses have partners completed?
  • How many partners are certified – by org and individual?
  • What % of courses are attended on mobile devices?

There are other metrics that tie channel sales back to the growth of a company, and in my next blog post, I will discuss the metrics that smart channel professionals use to demonstrate real, deep business value (not to mention uncover where resources should be devoted to increase channel sales).

Photo by: Christian Bucad

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