Set Goals for Your Channel
After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:
- Understand the value of aligning channel goals with overall business goals.
- Explore the types of metrics to apply to your portal strategy.
- Develop an internal reporting plan for your partner portal.
It’s critical to have a well-thought-out set of goals and a plan to track progress against those goals. And it’s important not to simply focus on sales revenue alone. You should also consider goals around return on investment (ROI) of your channel strategy, cost of sales, and other strategic elements, such as market share or new product introduction. And of course, all of these goals should align with the larger sales and growth goals of the company.
Think about your channel goals and how might they impact the broader business goals. It’s a worthwhile exercise to consider how your channel program can support these broader goals and to align them as much as possible. Start by looking at your overall business objectives. Which of these can be supported by channel sales? Are there any goals that are directly tied to channel success? Examples include:
- Market Expansion. Many companies can successfully work with established partners to help them penetrate a new market.
- New Product Launch. Some companies choose to sell new products exclusively through the channel.
- Sales Growth. One of the best ways to achieve new sales growth is through a well-planned and well-executed channel sales strategy.
- Strategic Advantage. Along with sales growth, a successful channel strategy can become a competitive advantage.
Just as you shouldn't focus on revenue goals alone for your organization, you should also apply the same criteria to partner goals: what besides revenue is important? Goals are also dependent on where your partners/prospective partners are on their engagement journey. The Channel Company says, “How you manage and set goals for your partners depends on who they are, as well as where they are in their journey.”
According to Sand Hill Group, here are additional considerations related to setting goals for your channel partners:
- Adjust your channel’s overall sales capacity to reflect their capacity for selling your solution. Your partners will not be 100% dedicated to selling your product, so adjust accordingly.
- Consider if and by how much you need to adjust your sales yield expectations. How could margins change when you sell through the channel? Is the product mix different? Are add-ons less prevalent?
- Make an objective estimate of your company’s overall sales maturity. How predictable is your sales process? Do you offer a complete solution? These factors can influence partner success.
And finally, we recommend setting goals that are consistent with your corporate values. It’s important for partners to understand your values and how they influence every part of your business.
There isn’t a universal set of metrics that you can apply to every stage of the partner lifecycle, which means companies need to think about which metrics are appropriate per stage of the life cycle. As described by Gary Morris in a post on his blog Successful Channels:
“Each step of a partner’s life-stage journey comes with a corresponding set of
recommended tracking and performance metrics. These metrics help define
the partners that are the best fit with your brand while also serve to track the
activities that are necessary to develop capable, motivated, and revenue-producing partners.”
Another important lens to view metrics is by direct and indirect measures, also referred to as leading and lagging metrics. Leading metrics are those which show activity and engagement, all pointing to eventual revenue.
|Participation in trials, proof-of-concepts (POCs)
|Participation in webinars, enablement, training sessions
||# events attended
||# deals registered; partner-contributed pipeline
|Overall activity in portal
||# logins, engagement
|Joint Business Planning
||# plans developed with partners
|Attendance at in-person events
||# events attended
Lagging metrics are associated with sales outcomes and must include more than the simple revenue metric.
|Deal Win Rate
||# total deals won; Total # Opportunities; Win/Loss rate
||$ total revenue; $ revenue by segment; YoY growth rate
|# New Customers
||# new logos
|Product Type Sold
||Revenue by Product Category, or SKU
||rate, expressed as %
It is important to have a plan for how you will communicate these metrics (think storytelling for grownups!) in order to provide as much context as possible to the information. Here’s what we recommend.
- Develop a plan to deliver regular reports to key internal stakeholders. Don’t overdo it with data. Share anecdotal information (stories and even excerpts of content from the portal), as well.
- Organize metrics in a manner that makes it easy to understand (align to KPIs/business goals).
- Set up your own partner scorecard.
- Tie data to use cases where possible (deal registration, lead distribution, MDF, training, onboarding).
And don’t forget that Salesforce offers a powerful suite of reporting tools that work together to help you understand and act on your data.
- Community Management Dashboard Package. Track community engagement and monitor health.
- Google Analytics for Salesforce Communities Package. Contains preconfigured reports that track partner activity within a community.
And don’t be shy! Reach out to your partners, survey them, ask for feedback. They are your co-creators in this journey. Next up, we’ll dive into best practices for recruiting and onboarding your channel partners.