It’s that time of year when most of us are huddled up at week-long off-sites and suffering through presentation after presentation as we begin to tackle the annual exercise of building the channel strategy for 2018. The conversation may go something like this:
“Do we have the right partners? Do we have the right programs? What do we need to sell and how much? Why didn’t we make our number last year? The competition is eating our lunch!”
After endless day-long meetings, a channel strategy slowly starts to take shape. And then…. someone is given the task to work with Finance to build a set of data to support the plan. In our experience, this is when things often start to fall apart. Force fitting data to support your strategy is a common and costly misstep.
Having worked side-by-side with many Channel Chiefs, we can say with confidence, that the most effective channel strategies are engrossed in data. The data is not an afterthought. It’s embedded throughout every step of the process.
The specialists at Channel Impact want to make sure your channel strategy is rooted in data so that when you go to present your plan to E-Staff you can defend your approach—with confidence. Below, are three best practices for building a winning channel plan, that is firmly rooted in data.
1. Know Where You’ve Been
Take a look at your historical programs to determine, without emotion, how well they have been performing, by conducting efficacy analysis. You’ll likely want to take a close look at your Deal Registration program, financial incentives, MDF and discount levels to determine if your investments actually drove the desired partner behavior and achieved the revenue targets you had expected. If a program is not delivering, the new fiscal year is your opportunity to make adjustments.
2. Anticipate Future Results
Predictive analytics are the closest thing to a crystal ball that you count on. It allows you to see with a high degree of accuracy what will happen to your business if you were to make certain changes in the coming year. For example:
- What will happen to productivity if you add more Partner Account Managers?
- What if you had fewer partners?
- What will happen to your bookings if you adjust the discount level?
You get the picture. It’s really important to understand how each decision you make is going to impact revenue and your route-to-market success.
3. Be Prepared for E-staff
Your credibility is on the line when you take your plan to E-Staff for review. However, you know you are prepared for any question that is thrown at you if:
- You had a highly qualified team preparing your data from the start. Make sure your internal team is qualified to conduct data modeling. If not, turn to external resources
- You ran the data models first, understood the implications, and then built your strategy
- You know how to talk to each model and explain, in plain terms, why you are making each recommendation and the expected business impact
It’s never too early to start your 2018 plan. Those companies that outperform year over year, and have the highest partner satisfaction, start planning early and measure everything. Analytics are never an after-thought.