By Kenneth Fox, CEO, Channel Mechanics
There’s considerable focus these days on customer experience. After all everyone knows a satisfied customer is more likely to buy additional products and services (research shows up to 14x). That’s obviously critical as it’s a lot less expensive to sell additional products and services to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. The same corollary applies to channel partners. The more engaged a channel partner, the greater the tendency for them to sell more of your products and services.
The challenge many channel leaders struggle with is determining not just what key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure channel partner engagement levels, but which are the most critical. As a provider of a widely-employed channel automation platform it’s been our experience at Channel Mechanics that the 12 most important channel partner engagement KPI’s to track are as follows:
12) Number of Times a Partner Logs into the Partner Portal
Among the simplest of KPI’s to track, the number of times a partner logs into a partner portal indicates just how engaged a partner really is. If a partner isn’t consuming the assets being provided via the partner portal there is something either amiss with how the portal is constructed or, just as likely, where and how that partner strategically aligns with you as a vendor. It may simply be that the partner just isn’t all that into you as a vendor.
11) The number of calls to a Channel Account Manager (CAM) or Partner Account Manager (PAM)
Some partners for one reason or another just get stuck. They may be logging into the partner portal, but not generating meaningful sales activity. One way to determine that is to correlate the number of logins to the portal to the number calls made to a CAM or PAM. It may be a vendor has constructed the perfect self-service portal for all their partners. But in the absence of that unlikely achievement, lack of interaction with PAMs and CAMs indicates the relationship is not nearly as strong as it should be.
10) Number of Meetings Attended
There is no product or service that sells itself. If a partner isn’t setting up customer meetings, there’s little to no chance sales are being actively pursued. Partners that don’t have many sales meetings on their calendars are typically hoping a customer will make an inquiry. Hope, of course, is never a strategy.
9) Number of Conferences Attended
There’s no replacement for the face-to-face meeting. If partners are not attending either the primary conference hosted by the vendor or other industry events, chances are they’re waiting on the vendor to do all the heavy lifting for them.
8) Number of Sales and Marketing Collateral Materials Downloaded
Partners that are actively selling a product or service need sales collateral. If they are not downloading the sales and marketing collateral provided, it’s typically indicative of two potential issues. The first is there’s no potential customer to leave that collateral with after a sales call. The second is that they don’t find the sales and marketing collateral to be especially relevant. Either case represents a significant problem because partners that don’ t employ sales and marketing collateral are not going to be generating many sales leads or, for that matter, closing deals.
7) Demo Participation Rates
Very few customers will buy a product or service as an act of faith. Seeing is always believing. A proof-of-concept demo typically occurs late in a sales process. If partners are not getting that far it means very few deals are going to be closed that quarter.
6) The Number of Marketing Campaigns Created
While downloading sales and marketing collateral is an important indicator of partner engagement, partners that invest their own time and effort to build sales and marketing campaigns aimed at, for example, a specific use case are deeply engaged. Vendors would be well advised to try and leverage those efforts when they can by sharing those campaigns with other partners because it’s clear a partner has developed a repeatable solution.
5) Number of Certifications Attained
The single most valuable resource any partners have is their sales and engineering talent. Their entire business revolves around those individuals. If sales and engineers are not taking the time to get certified, the partner is sending an unequivocal signal that it has decided to prioritize other products and services over yours.
4) Partner Profitability
It’s critical for IT vendors to have a stable base of channel partners. A lot of time and effort can be wasted when there is a lot of churn in the channel. One of the primary indicators of forthcoming channel churn is a lot of marginally profitable channel partners that are either about to be acquired or, worse yet, go out of business altogether.
3) Customer Satisfaction with Partners
Most IT vendors don’t engage directly with end customers. There is a direct correlation between how satisfied any customer is going to be overall and how satisfied they are with partners. It takes a significant amount of effort to measure customer satisfaction with partners. But when that satisfaction rate directly reflects on the IT vendor being aware of the state of the relationship between customers and partners, it’s indispensable.
2) Channel Churn
The cost of on-boarding a new channel partner is high. It can be six months before a new channel partner starts to deliver a return on investment. High churn rates are indicative of a flawed channel program that is not delivering on the promise of a more efficient indirect sales model.
Partners that are not making money selling a product will turn their attention elsewhere. They may tolerate low product margins if they are making good margins on the services that are enabled by that product. But without real profits dropping to their bottom line, a partner will quickly conclude a vendor is more trouble than they’re worth.
Tracking no single channel partner engagement KPI will determine success or failure in the channel. Each channel KPI needs to be evaluated within context. For example, if partner satisfaction rates are starting to decline it should not come as a surprise that partner churn has significantly increased in subsequent quarters.
Partners, of course, are not always willing to provide honest feedback. That’s why measuring channel partner engagement KPI’s is critical. After all, the best place to determine the real health of any business relationship is by things measured.
We invite you to demo what’s truly possible to automate, connect, track, and sell in your channel. Discover how easy it is to take advantage of a cloud application that comes with all the critical channel partner engagement KPI’s needed to successfully manage a channel in today’s rapidly changing environment.