Channel managers in emerging companies build a case for the value of the channel by being able to move the revenue needle – and being able to show they’re moving it. To do both you need to develop your abilities to measure and to explain to senior executives the results of your activities.
You already know how it works in the channel – that results happen more slowly than with direct sales, and that part of what you’re doing as you ramp up is learning what types of partners work best with your company and product, how best to influence them, what they need to sell your product successfully, etc. But are your higher ups aware of how the channel is different?
- Be Realistic About What Can Be Accomplished
People understand the concept of the marketing funnel and sales pipeline – awareness comes before interest and leads come before deals. In the channel, before awareness and leads you have to recruit and onboard qualified partners, which takes time.
Clearly communicating why cycle time in the channel is longer than with direct sales will help you build credibility for yourself and the channel. Develop a realistic plan and show all the steps necessary to get to revenue. Be able to explain that channel activities can do little more than influence partners, which unlike your internal sales team, are outside companies. Each time you report, show your progress and remind execs that it takes longer in the channel.
- Accurately Measure Partner Performance
To link your activities to results, set up your process so you can track partner attributes and how they impact revenue.
You can get lucky and recruit some good partners right out of the gate but if you’re not set up to capture data about the good ones, you’re not likely to be able to do it again. Hypothesize the answers to questions about what makes a partner successful selling your product. What are they selling? What kinds of prospects do they sell to? What’s their territory? As partners begin to produce results – or not – you log the data.
Over time, the characteristics of your ideal partners begin to reveal themselves. Recruit more of these kinds of partners and continue to measure your results. This way you create a feedback loop that informs your selection of future partners. Over time, you can recruit more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
- Know and Communicate How Your Activities Impact Revenue
In the same way you track your recruiting activities and results, you measure all your activities. You won’t be able to show revenue on everything you do, but you’ll be able to show progress against your plan, which will produce revenue over time.
Again, presenting your results, you’ll remind execs: “We agreed we wouldn’t see revenue at this point. We agreed we would see 50 new partners. We agreed that we’d see X many new deal registrations. We agreed that we’d see leads being distributed. We agreed that we’d see these marketing programs planned with these people. We have seen those things” (or “we haven't,” in which case be ready to explain.) Instead of just listing completed activities, show you’re hitting milestones toward objectives of doubling the channel or doubling sales.
Providing a map that shows what progress looks like makes it easier for people to follow along and to have confidence in your plan. They need to see that you’re engaging in activities that will lead to sales over time.
Want to learn more about how successful channel managers build their case and build an organization to generate significant sales? Download Channeltivity’s latest e-book,