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Transform Your Channel Managers to Rock Star Legends for Their Partner

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Are you ready to help make your channel managers as beloved by their partners as their favorite rock stars? Just imagine the cheers and the concert lighters (or concert lighter apps) glowing in adoration for your channel managers as they roll into your partner’s offices for business planning, scorecarding and QBR work-sessions.

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Your partners will be queuing up outside your office waiting for a chance to meet with channel managers who have new superstar appeal.  No, this is not fantasy. It is possible and surprisingly easy to achieve. The good news is that so many of your competitors do such a poor job of preparing and enabling their channel managers, it does not take heroic efforts to separate your team from the pack. Achievement of channel manager rock icon status can be accomplished with the deployment of a few simple tools, improved business processes, and training on how to engage partners differently to build deep and lasting relationships.

Below are a series of easy-to-implement tools that can transform how your channel managers build relationships with their partners. Each of these cloud-based tools were designed specifically to enable your CAMs to more efficiently and effectively meet their partner’s needs. Each will make CAMs so productive and valued by their partners that they’ll go from simply a friendly relationship to one where they become the most valued and trusted advisor for their partners.

RockStars of Partner

Too much time is wasted by channel organizations with highly inefficient and disconnected channel manager business processes. In fact, even in 2018 most global multi-billion dollar channel organizations run these critical business processes off of Excel workbooks. This year more than ever, we have seen an awakening to the need to move away from Excel as the primary Channel Manager analysis tool to an easier-to-use, integrated, and reportable cloud-based tools.

The Path to Rock & Roll Stardom for Your Channel Managers

Your channel management team has the potential to have a glorious connection with their partners. To achieve this exalted status they need a set of tools to help them build deeper relationships and commitments. They will be celebrated as true trusted advisors and advocates in their partner’s success if they use the strength of these tools to deliver expert advice, practices, and direction.

Start with Sharing Your Company’s Expertise in Successful Partner Business Models

Partners are looking for expertise and advice from your channel managers to help them be more successful with your brand. In fact, they expect your channel managers to share best practices that your company has built supporting a wide range of partnerships to help them build a go-to-market with your brand. Leading vendor / partner models collaborate closely on all of the following elements to build highly successful joint business relationships.

Best Practices that Vendors Must Share with Partners:

  • Successful partner pricing & margin strategies with the vendor’s brand
  • Attractive and profitable partner-delivered services wrapped around the sale of the vendor’s products
  • Packaging and positioning approaches of partner business solutions with your brand
  • Solution bundles including multiple vendor’s brands to improve attractiveness and competitiveness of the partner offer

Partners are actively seeking vendor expertise in all of these areas. The vendor organizations that are able to share successful partner business practices will win a disproportionate amount of their time and attention because they’ll have more confidence in their potential with your brand. Leading vendors direct their product managers that differentiated product solutions are not nearly enough to succeed in today’s channel. All products need to be coupled with a go-to-market “package” of pricing, services, positioning and sales strategies that will help a partner build a successful business around the sale of your products.

How to Put this Into Action – Partner Life-Stage Scorecards

Channel Managers will rock their partner relationships with tools that enable them to assess a partner versus best practices, as well as versus peer partners in minutes, and produce a stoplight / 1-100 scorecard action plan. To create a custom scorecard for your partner like this one below, a channel manager can take a partner though a simple questionnaire (or partner can complete on a self-service basis) which will generate a partner “life-stage” scorecard.  Each “category” below can be turned on or off by partner based on the “life-stage” of the partner and their relationship with your brand.

Scorecard Summary

Our experience has demonstrated that partners love to see exactly where they stand based on what you expect from them. They are also equally interested in how they compare with their peer partners.  This type of report is completed for each partner and is used as a part of a quarterly assessment, action plan and update process. It serves as a roadmap for building partner capabilities and a QBR for tracking quarterly improvements.

Partner Performance Scorecards Rock Partner’s Worlds

I have heard this sentiment several times over the past few months from partner executives speaking to their vendors about performance management, “I have to say I have absolutely no idea how I am performing at any point throughout the year with your program or with our plan. Why do we bother to set sales targets if we rarely or never track performance to plan?”

Providing this kind of information to your partners with inadequate systems is very difficult and highly manual.  The result of not having these performance management systems in place is much lower partner program compliance and lower goal achievement.  But superstar channel managers that can provide performance dashboards 24/7 to their partners generate an honored position with their partners. They do this by providing performance scorecards that look like this one below.

PPS Summary 1

PPS Summary 2

Partners are cheering about these types of scorecards because they know exactly what is expected of them for sales, pipeline, certifications and other metrics, as well as where they stand in achieving these goals. Unlike all the other vendors they work with, your brand / channel managers will be viewed at the team that truly understands your partner’s business and is helping them succeed. Your partners will likely give you extra time and support because they will be motivated to achieve the jointly established goals for the partnership.

Business Planning / Sales Forecasting Made Easy

Traditional Excel-based partner business planning processes are tedious and not very insightful. The act of filling out an Excel spreadsheet lacks a sense of commitment to growth or ownership of the goals.  But a guided intelligent process that helps partners build a forecast based on historical sales, recommended forecasts, and automatically calculates a multi-year plan in minutes will build partner confidence in your planning process. Plus, partners can instantly simulate the impact of different assumptions on their sales forecasts.

Partner Sales Forecast Process

Partners are automatically provided with last year’s sales integrated from the vendors CRM or revenue recognition system and the ability to select a percentage of prior year forecast.

Prior Year Forecast Process

For products they have not sold in the past, they have the ability to select from a recommended forecast. Typically, the recommended forecast is based on an analysis of a range of other partners sales for each product / solution area. We have heard from countless partners when asked what they think they can commit to in sales for the next year and the number one response is, “How much do other partners like me sell?”

Recommended Forecast for Products

This “recommended forecast” at three levels gives partners a framework for building a realistic and attainable forecast that they can believe in. It also provides your channel managers with intelligent and fact-based recommendations that they can use to build a trusted advisor partner relationship.

One of the key tools for managing, motivating and measuring performance is the quarterly business review. Providing your Channel Managers the ability to build a performance-to-plan, pipeline-to-target, and performance on key scorecard metrics on one PPT presentation is one more step to channel manager rock stardom.

Building Annotated QBR PPT

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