Manage and Grow Your Channel
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Understand how to incorporate deal registration and lead distribution as part of your channel strategy.
- Understand the best practices of a Market Development Fund program.
- Develop a plan to provide support and self-service for your partners.
- Enable your partners to develop reporting for their needs.
Employ Deal Registration
Deal registration lets you manage channel conflict and get better pipeline visibility by allowing partners to securely register their own deals. It’s an important capability to provide for your channel partners, and it also shows you are committed to their success.
Deal registration provides an important mechanism to give your partners the ability to register their deals. It also gives them the confidence to know that they are working on the right deals and provides them the exclusivity to work on the deal for a defined period of time, once you have reviewed and approved it.
A properly designed deal registration program (one that is easy to understand, with a streamlined process) can increase partner participation, driving higher adoption of your portal. It has been shown to increase the likelihood of lead conversion, and with a higher close rate, it makes forecasting that much better.
Here are some important best practices:
- Communicate clear and fair rules of engagement. Strive for transparency and provide visibility into the process (criteria, eligibility, reward structure). Collaborate with partners and keep them updated on the deal status.
- Create an efficient process with workflows and fast approvals. Make it easy to register deals with minimal fields. Automate the approval workflow and use system notifications for fast turnaround
- Establish service level agreements (SLAs). Set expectations for how you will support your partners throughout the process and communicate what is expected of them.
Provide Lead Distribution
Now it’s your turn to share the love. In addition to requiring partners to register deals, it’s a great idea to set up a lead distribution process. And it’s all about making the experience hassle-free. Remember, partners need to understand all the paths to revenue.
Let’s talk about three important best practices:
1) Create a strategy and plan. The first thing to know is that you do need a strategy and a plan! This process of helping partners close business and generate revenue needs to be well thought out. Be sure to define criteria to assign leads to the right partners. Have they been successful in the past? Do they have a better chance to convert due to experience or product niche? Then decide on the lead stages you want to track and measure and be sure to use assignment rules (native to Sales Cloud PRM) to automate the process.
2) Support your partners throughout the process. There’s no better way to provide support than by sending your partners quality leads. Beyond that, you can think about creating preconfigured marketing campaigns for partners to use themselves to help convert leads. Provide the resources, tools, and support along the way, and be sure to follow up. Channel managers should report regularly on pipeline and lead activity.
3) Create a service level agreement (SLA) to encourage activity. SLAs help you structure objectives, responsibilities, and performance measures for this program. As explained by Tenfold, marketing agrees to deliver a fixed number of qualified leads and partners agree to respond to each lead based on the SLA, which should include the timing, persistence, messaging, and measured progress applied to distributed leads.
Allocate Market Development Funds
Market development funds (MDF) are discretionary marketing dollars given to partners to help generate future sales (lead generation), typically associated with a marketing budget/plan. Funds can be allocated in real time or in advance of the marketing campaigns.
Having an MDF program is very strategic, because first and foremost, it’s an investment on the part of the vendor/company, and investments are never taken lightly. It can also be a sure sign to a partner that you are vested in their success. This type of incentive can motivate partners and it can help build loyalty over time. And if done right, their deployment within a partner program can deliver a positive return on investment (ROI).
Here are some best practices for any MDF program:
- Have an internal process defined with clear stakeholders
- Allocate MDF funds strategically (new product launch, new market, etc.)
- Prioritize on the partners potential and ability to execute
- Identify programs and which partner segments are the most successful
- Incent your partners to participate
- Provide pre-packaged Marketing Campaigns
- Track and monitor the performance and impact
Develop a Service and Support Strategy
Let’s not forget that partners need help, too! A good channel strategy takes this service element into account. In addition to enablement and training, you should be prepared to address partner questions and issues that fall outside the realm of learning. It’s not that different than customer success and service, which means you should provide a breadth of self-service options that can include, for example, access to a knowledge base and the ability to file support cases when needed. What other tools or content are needed to set your partners up for success? Consider providing different levels of partner success programs based on their achieving certain performance tiers.
Analytics for Partners
Be sure to provide partners with the ability to measure their own performance, specific to their activities. And longer term, you should share benchmark data with them as well. Fortunately, with Sales Cloud PRM you can enable reports and dashboards for your partners to:
- Connect every partner to any data—gain channel insights from any source.
- Enable partners to understand their business—provide performance summaries and historical benchmarking.
- Focus partners on the best opportunities—via self-service data exploration.
- Share personalized dashboards—use security permissions to control visibility.
It’s a Wrap!
We’ve come to the end of this module, and we hope you’ve learned some important strategies that you can apply to your own channel organization. The effort you put into your channel and portal strategy will be well worth it in the long run. These best practices are only the beginning. Over time, you’ll adapt them to serve your needs, at any given evolution of your PRM portal. Happy selling, and happy channel management!