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The Right Way to Treat Your Partners Differently

partner segment

Let’s face it, not all partners should be treated the same.   Your largest revenue-producing partners will always get a disproportionate share of your channel manager’s time because they have earned the right to extra love and attention.  But what is the best way to allocate your team’s time and resources across the wider range of partners?  There are many different ways to segment your channel and allocate your resources.  Here are a few segmentation options that have worked for channel organizations.

Sample Channel Partner Segmentations:

  • Partner Life-Stage Segmentation: Group partners based on their development stage within your channel ecosystem
    1. Prospective partner
    2. Recently onboarded partner
    3. Activated / contributing partner
    4. Onboarded / inactive partner
  • Partner Revenue Generation Segmentation: Group partners based on their revenue contribution to your organization
    1. Non-contributing partner
    2. Low revenue contribution
    3. Medium revenue contribution
    4. High revenue contribution
  • Partner Attitudinal / Behavioral:  Group partners based on a combination of attitudinal attributes toward growing your brand and/or behavior attributes that indicate their interest level
    1. Low engagement / no deals registered
    2. Modest engagement / few deals registered
    3. Medium engagement / some deals registered
    4. High engagement / many deals registered

The best way to segment your partners is to use a combination of these and other potential attributes to determine the most pragmatic and actionable groups for focus.   Channel organizations are usually pretty good at segmenting their partners.   Unfortunately, where they most often struggle is the actual implementation of targeted strategies by defined channel segment.

The Right Way to Implement Your Segmentation:

Highly successful channel organizations use partner scorecard systems to pinpoint exactly where a partner is within their segmentation and target the right strategy for the right partner.  Channel managers, working with their partners, can determine precisely which segment each partner is in and develop highly targeted strategies for that partner in 5-10 minutes.

Here is an example of a scorecard system designed to help channel managers implement different strategies with partners at different life-stages.  This approach allows a channel account manager (CAM) to focus on the right stuff based on how an individual partner is in their development with your brand.

Channel Manager Dashboard:   A single place where a CAM can access all his or her assigned partners and target strategies based the partner’s stage.

Channel Manager Dashboard

In this example, there are three different partners for this channel manager at three different stages:

  • MobileInfinity Solutions: (Activated / contributing partner) The CAM is updating all scorecard metrics quarterly and is focusing on the following:
    1. Building partner sales capabilities
    2. Building partner marketing capabilities
    3. Assisting partners in the execution of growth strategies
  • BrandTech: (Recently onboarded partner) The CAM is reactivating this partner which has not contributed sales in a while and is focusing on the following:
    1. Assessing the basics of this partner
    2. Reactivating this partner to ensure they are in a position to succeed
  • ChannelEdge: (Prospective partner) The CAM is profiling a prospective partner under consideration for approval

This “CAM Dashboard” system allows CAMs to target assessments and improvement strategies on a per partner basis and treat each partner differently based on where they are in their life stage.  Here are three examples of these life-stage targeted scorecards that are turned on by a CAM on a per partner basis to focus on that their targeted needs and success requirements.

Partner Scores

Targeted scorecards like this are a perfect way to focus your partner enablement efforts on the activities that are most beneficial for each life-stage.   Partners are able to see how they stack up vs. best practices and channel managers are able to prescribe specific improvements aimed at addressing the partner’s biggest needs.   Partners will appreciate being treated differently and will value the customized consultative guidance your channel managers can provide them to succeed with your brand.

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