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3 Key Elements of the Perfect Partner Performance Management System

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The recurring dream of channel executives worldwide is the creation and implementation of a perfectly-designed and fully-integrated partner performance management system.  This dream is of a process that brings together everything a channel manager needs to assess a partner’s performance-to-date, and review the strength of their sales pipeline moving forward.   This channel executive’s dream is a perfectly guided partner performance management process for gaining greater channel growth.

We had the opportunity to interview hundreds of channel executives over the past two years in preparation for The Ultimate Channel Chief Scorecard report we presented last month. During these interviews we also were able to gather a wealth of information about the dreams and desires of channel executives. We have attempted to tell the dreams of these channel executives in this series of animated thoughts below.

A channel executive’s dream starts with a 24-36 month partner business plan that is created by or with the partner in 4-5 minutes where a custom profit forecast is created automatically.

Partner Sales And Profitability Plan

The channel executive dreams of forecasts that are created by partners for each product or sales play by month based on either a percentage increase from last year’s sales, selecting from a set of sample forecasts, or building a custom forecast in minutes.

Partner Sales And Profitability Forecast

As a result, all partners have created a sales commitment plan, along with a set of goals and strategies to help them achieve these goals.  This sales plan is published in the vendor’s CRM system and is reviewed on a monthly or quarterly basis.

The channel executive’s dream continues where channel managers are able to instantly create quarterly business reviews to compare a partner’s plan with actual sales.

QBR Performance To plan

Channel executives start to smile as they dream of automated Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) created for their channel managers and their partners.   They think of how streamlined and effective a partner performance-to-plan review will be to manage and motivate partner growth.   Channel Managers are able to instantly review actual partner sales and compare with a partner’s plan to assess current performance-to-plan.

Partner Performance Management Report

This is called a backward-looking report because it compares past sales with plans to assess performance to date.   This gives channel managers and partners an excellent look at where the partners’ stand relative to their goals.   This allows for an instant, productive conversation with the partner on how they can address under-performing areas and build on successes in other areas.   In this example above the partner sold ten percent more than their plan in Q1 and five percent ahead of their plan in Q2.

The next part of this same channel executive’s dream is to switch from a backward-looking historical review of sales vs. plan to a forward-looking pipeline to plan.   Typically channel executives like to establish a “pipeline index” for a partner’s sales goals to make sure they are on track to meet their objectives.   An average pipeline index is between three to five times their target sales for a month or a quarter.   Channel managers dream of the ability to measure, just next to the historical performance-to-plan analysis, a partner sales pipeline performance to plan.

Plan Comparison By Pipeline Index

At this point in the dream, the channel manager wakes up from the excitement of this performance management vision.   He or she realizes that the team has everything they need to manage, motivate, and report on their partner’s sales, goals and performance.   All of this is contained in one unified, performance-to-plan and pipeline reporting system that is delivered on a silver platter (figuratively) to channel managers on a monthly and quarterly basis.

Summary Partner Performance Management Report

Channel Managers are able to do a quick analysis of the partner’s numbers and focus the majority of their time consulting on growth strategies.   The channel executive has set the pipeline target for four times the partner’s forecasted plan.  The channel manager pointed out in the analysis above that Year 1 / Q4 pipeline was below the target but Year 2 / Q1 is above the target.  It is likely that this channel manager will discuss ways to bring some of the pipeline deals estimated in Q1 / Year 2 back to Q4 / Year 1 to improve their chances of achieving the partner’s sales goal for Q4.

So why is this logical and easy-to-manage process a dream of most channel executives? It is because the systems and numbers are tied up in different and non-Channel friendly systems that make it virtually impossible to live this dream.   Experienced channel executives realize that this is simply a dream for most organizations because of a lack of well-designed planning and performance management systems.

To learn more about automated partner planning and performance management systems that deliver this backward and forward looking analyses to the fingertips of channel managers, please contact Successful Channels.


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1 Comment
  1. sounds great. I have a news letter that has been going out to about 160,000 IT channel people.

    We should try to see if we can work together.

    Robert M. Cohen
    CEO and Business Editor.

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