When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, unsurprisingly, most people want to lose weight and exercise more.
We all know why we make these annual commitments. We want to look better, live longer and be healthier.
Losing weight and exercising are on most people’s minds throughout the year but changing personal behaviour and taking action is elusive. The same is true for channel executives as they assess end of the year results and prioritise what is needed to meet sales goals for the next year.
Channel executives know that they need to build commitments with partners to invest and grow sales for brand purposes, while measuring partner achievement of these goals.
But saying it versus doing it is a lot like the challenge of losing weight and exercising.
It’s an excellent idea until it is time to walk away from that delicious bowl of potato chips or take that first step onto the treadmill.
Taking the time and making the effort to profile and scorecard your partners, build joint sales targets and action plans and preparing quarterly business reviews (QBRs) across your partner network is infrequently done and typically only with a small percentage of partners.
Why? Because it is hard work, inefficient, and hard to measure.
The questions that channel executives ask themselves are:
- Is it worth doing?
- What is the value for the partner and/or channel managers?
- Do I have time to create plans and measure performance-to-plan?
- Can I get access to the data I need to complete this task?
- Can I get the roll-up reporting to measure channel performance at all levels?
Channel executives, just like most people making New Year’s resolutions, need to be convinced by the ‘business case’ for making the investment and effort in the new behaviour.
So, here’s the ‘business case’ for top New Year’s resolutions.
LOSE WEIGHT: According to Men’s Fitness, the top 10 benefits of losing weight are:
- Better sleep
- Better hormonal balance
- Improved sex drive
- Better mood
- Less joint pain
- Clearer / brighter skin
- Stress relief
- More money
- More friends
- Fewer colds
EXERCISE MORE: According to Healthline, the top 10 benefits of more exercise are:
- Feel happier
- Help lose weight
- Stronger muscles and bones
- Increase energy levels
- Reduce risk of chronic disease
- Improve skin health
- Improve brain health and memory
- Improve sleep
- Reduce pain
- Better sex
Most people conclude that these benefits are very attractive and motivating and are worth striving for. Similarly, partner business planning and performance management have an equally attractive set of ‘business case’ benefits for channel executives.
Partner business planning
Successful Channels is a provider of channel and partner business planning and performance management tools and the results below are based on the outcomes from a range of our customers implementing these planning tools.
Partner scorecards (15–30 per cent+ capabilities improvement): Channel teams that define best practice scorecards, assess partner performance and create improvement action plans increase partner capabilities between 15-30 per cent+ on key metrics within the first 12 months of deployment.
Partner business plans and QBRs (10–25 per cent+ growth versus PY): Channel teams that complete 12 to 36-month business plans, profit forecasts and conduct QBRs (including pipeline-to-target) every quarter achieve these growth levels.
Partner account planning (10-25 per cent increase in deal registrations): A process of meeting with partner sales executives to identify customers and prospects that represent good cross-sell opportunities for your brand.
Channel managers that regularly conduct ‘account planning’ work- sessions with each key partner sales executive achieve this outcome.
If the business case is this strong for doing partner business planning and performance management activities, then why don’t more channel teams do them?
Much like losing weight and doing more exercise, you must do the hard work to realise the benefits.
Channel account manager challenges
The tension between short-term channel sales target achievement and medium-term partner enablement has never been greater.
At the end of 2017, I overheard a vice president (VP) of channel sales saying to his channel account manager (CAM) team; “you can invest in enabling your partners as long as you are achieving your sales targets.”
Any long service CAM knows how funny that quote is. It’s simply not possible to achieve your partner sales targets if you are not equally investing in enabling your partners for success.
Every work day a professional ‘Super CAM’ is managing this balance between developing the next few sales opportunities with their partners while at the same time helping to build a self-sufficient, scalable, and effective partner.
It’s getting harder and harder to find channel organisations that are steadfastly committed to partner enablement. This is a classic example of investing well ahead of the anticipated return with uncertainty in return on investment (ROI).
This is a struggle that every VP of channel sales deals with when making budget and resource allocation decisions.
Providing partner training and certifications, learning management systems, partner sales incentives and partner marketing dollars is expensive and hard work. And the justification for these expenses is not easy to put together because the return is usually not immediate.
Unfortunately, when times get tough and sales targets are getting tight, one of the first things cut by VPs of channel sales are partner enablement budgets.
Pulling CAMs off important partner enablement activities happens too often in the channel to achieve short-term sales targets and sacrificing longer-term growth prospects from partners.
Despite declining funds and focus on enablement, CAMs are still expected to achieve their numbers while at the same time building partners that will generate increasing rates of ‘partner-led’ deals for their brand.
The top performing CAMs, or ‘Super CAMs’, are experts at the balancing act of investing just the right amount of time in partner sales development efforts, while at the same time finding a way to help their partners get better.
Gary Morris is a business, marketing and channel executive of more than 25 years, who has written and published over 300 articles and white papers on channel best practices, marketing effectiveness and technology strategies for business and performance management.