Recruiting the best-fit partners for your channel is both an art and a science. Recruiting misaligned partners is all too easy.
Misaligned partners crush productivity, kill profits, and produce anemic revenue streams. How do you avoid recruiting them?
Onboarding: The First 90 Days Count
It’s me… not you. Managing your channel partner relationship is an ongoing commitment that starts with effective onboarding. Here are some tell-tale signs that your onboarding needs review.
- Hasn’t engaged with the marketing team
- Hasn’t utilized the marketing materials you provide them
- Misses onboarding meetings
Follow a process of elimination. If the items you can control–such as marketing collateral, training, and support–are working well with most of your partners, then you can chalk up onboarding issues to misalignment.
Bottom line: The hidden costs of delayed engagement will lengthen the time to revenue and even hurt employee retention.
Enablement: Growing Pains are Real
Afraid to fire those underperforming partners flying under the radar? Accepting quantity over quality eats up human capital every year. You may end up breaking even–or worse.
This type of partner doesn’t contribute to your long-term success. Zeroing in on those hidden costs starts by asking some key questions:
- Is your partner generating any positive revenue?
- Is there an upward trajectory to their growth?
- Have they plateaued after significant growth?
- Do they require more support than other partners?
Create a grading system to help you evaluate your answers. This will improve the review process and help you determine next steps.
Bottom line: Set up a data-driven system that focuses on quantitative metrics for performance. You can even use partner grading or software tools that do that work for you.
The Elephant in the Room: Not Firing an Unproductive Partner
This may seem obvious, but similarly to investing in a poor-performing employee, investing in a misaligned partner produces a loss.
Misaligned partnerships result in:
- Lost opportunities/lost revenue stream
- Loss of money that could be spent on better-performing partners
- Costs of brand and reputation damage
When is the right time to move on? While there are several factors at play, making a decision comes down to taking a proactive data-driven approach, defining what success looks like, and taking a hard line in communicating that mission to your team.
Bottom line: The solution is an action plan such as a partner QBR (quarterly business review) that frames what success looks like moving forward.
It All Starts with Good Data
Whether you want to start an effective channel program or simply run one, success starts with an alignment strategy across your people, product, and technology.
Your Data and Tech Stack Matter
Evaluating what technology solutions you and your team will need to be successful requires partner discovery of both established and growing channels. But choosing the right tools is only half the battle. The data hygiene of your CRM and other tools is critical. Stale data or data that isn’t moving at the industry pace can lead to lost opportunities.
Poor data hygiene will cost you more in the long run. To support partners and enable success, establish a data taxonomy that helps marketing and sales teams to align on products, solutions, and future opportunities.
It’s critical to identify your channel’s performance metrics and take a proactive approach to reviewing potential gaps and slow leaks in your channel. Although most of your channel is driven by new partnership opportunities, reviewing your data pipeline is the first step to refining out flat or negative performers that are still getting support.