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5 Metrics for Evaluating & Analyzing Partner Programs

Mike MorganBy Mike Morgan

Lord Kelvin said, “To measure is to know” and “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” These words of wisdom certainly ring true for the indirect channel.

Discovering the right indirect channel metrics is difficult when considering programs individually. Channel managers too often solely examine direct results, such as the number of partner certifications earned this quarter, or partners’ MDF utilization year-to-date. They miss opportunities to optimize their programs and maximize revenue and profit. By looking at many channel programs, we’ve identified metrics that prosperous channel programs depend on to gauge success and spot areas for improvement.

1. Content: Downloads vs. Sales

If your partner portal is designed well, partners consume a lot of the content it contains. Everything from training to news updates can provide value. But how do you know whether it’s useful or not?

Your partnering automation system should enable you to know what your partners are viewing.

  • If you’re delivering the right materials, downloads foreshadow improved performance, and there is a correlation between content consumption and revenue success. 
  • If there aren’t many downloads and partner performance is still good, you need to improve content and make it more relevant to partners.
  • If downloads are high but performance is low, revaluate your content; it’s not contributing to your partners’ success.

2. Training: Learning vs. Earnings

Your partner training tools should result in better sales for you and your partners. However, few training programs base their success on bottom-line results.

Examine the correlation between partner earnings and the certifications that they earn.

  • You should detect a delta between partners who engage heavily with your training offerings and partners who are learning the bare minimum. That delta means that earning certifications contributes to your partners’ success. It also means you have statistical evidence to convince partners who aren’t performing well to invest more in training.
  • If there’s no delta, training has little impact on your partners’ ability to sell and support your product, and an overhaul of your training efforts is in order.

3. Leads: No Time to Waste

The faster leads are acted upon, the more likely they are to close. Streamline communications between your marketing team, channel managers and channel partners to reduce the time it takes to pass leads.

First, measure the time between the steps of the lead generation and the handoff process. Then, examine how rapidly partners act on the leads sent their way. It does no good to streamline the handoff process if those leads sit in an inbox for 72 hours before anyone views them.

You may discover a misalignment between your marketing and channel management teams, or you may find an aspect of the handoff that depends on a manual process. Some partners are probably simply better at leaping on leads than others, and this information is useful to you in tiering and incentivizing your partners.

4. Market Development Funds: Applications vs. Performance

Channel pros know they need an MDF program, but often fail to understand ROI on those funds. To get to the bottom of how effective your MDF is being used, correlate partner performance to the amount spent and the rate of MDF expenditure by each partner. In a healthy program, partners who apply for more MDF funds and engage in more marketing and market-building activities should close more deals. If MDF applications and deal registrations are plotted on a graph, over time, deal registration should move up and down in a manner that slightly trails MDF fund application activity.

  • If the two are not moving in tandem, you have a problem. If deal registration is high and MDF application activity is low, your partners are selling without relying on your MDF capital. You’re giving those dollars away.
  • If MDF application activity is high and deal registrations remain low, your partners are not putting MDF funds to use in a way that helps them generate deals. Make sure that you’re approving the right marketing activities.
  • If MDF activity and deal registrations are both low, you need to better explain the benefits of deal registration and improve your efforts to find MDF-worthy partners in your program.

5. Incentives: Changing Behaviors, but for How Long?

Used properly, incentives motivate partners to behaviors you want them to continue even after the incentive is gone. How do you recognize when that’s happening? And how do you spot incentives that are merely padding your partners’ bank accounts?

Examine the performance of partners and look for “before and after” trends. If those partners (or in the case of individual incentives, their employees) perpetuate the behaviors you were aiming for with your incentive after the program ends, your program worked. If there’s a spike in the desired behavior and a drop-off after the incentive ends, you need to examine your incentives and the partners who exhibited that behavior.

These five metrics can give you insight that you didn’t have before as you are considering how to make your program profitable, efficient and effective.

Mike Morgan is an ICT and CE industry sales and marketing executive with more than 20 years of experience in the field. He has specific expertise in indirect channel management and performance optimization. He is currently the CEO of Relayware, a leader in PRM B2B collaboration and multichannel communication cloud services.
LinkedIn:linkedin.com/in/mikemorgan
Twitter: @relaywaremike,@relayware


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