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How to Evaluate Your Channel Partners to Improve Renewal Performance

How to Evaluate Your Channel Partners to Improve Renewal Performance

For companies that need to rapidly extend their reach in the market, channel partners are essential to getting products and services in the hands of new customers and contributing to overall renewal rates. There’s no doubt that some partners are more successful at selling the value of your product or service than others, but how can you ensure your partners are getting the support they need to be successful? 

Regularly assessing your channel partners can offer valuable insight into what’s getting in the way of growth. In this blog, we will help to frame your channel partner assessment and provide 5 key questions you should be asking.   

Using Sales Process Analysis (SPA) to Evaluate Channel Partners 

Every channel partner operates differently, and there may be inefficiencies in a partner’s sales process that is hindering their growth. While they may be blind to what stands in their way – you, as the vendor, have unique insight into what works and what doesn’t for your products, services, and customers. When you begin from the outside looking in, it’s often easier to gain a 360-degree view of how a partner’s sales team operates. 

What is Sales Process Analysis? 

Sales Process Analysis (SPA)A SPA is a multi-tiered approach that ServiceSource uses to evaluate the entire Customer Journey Experience. This comprehensive assessment looks at the overall health and structure of your company’s sales organization and its relationship to the wider business, like business operations, finance, and executive managementBy understanding where a company is benchmarked against industry best practices, we are able to create a data and insights-driven path to success 

You can use this same methodology to help you understand where channel partners are accelerating and where they would benefit from more training or support. Once these performance gaps are identified and addressed, the partner is more likely to succeed, and your company will see higher engagement and better renewal key performance indicators (KPIs).  

These are the five main questions you can ask yourself that are similar to a sales process analysis: 

1. Who Is Responsible? 

Go beyond your partner’s org chart to understand which teams and employees are responsible for managing each part of the customer journey experience. Then, understanding how their processes work.  

Best In Class Channel Partners: 

Can easily identify who owns, manages, and executes each customer interaction. The day-to-day customer management aligns with the processes put in place for sales, renewals management, customer success, and more. 

Underperforming Channel Partners: 

Cannot easily identify who is responsible for driving resultsEven when process owners are defined, only 5% of employees believe owners are held accountable for meeting process goals.  

Smaller partners may have team members performing more than one role, leaving some responsibilities to fall through the cracks. Regardless of size, without proper team management, processes can be overlooked, leading to a bad customer experience. 

Pro Tip: Properly training and educating your partners is the first step to ensuring success.  Asking for a clear set of responsibilities by role and function can better position you for long-term accountability and growth. 

Additionally, it’s a good idea to look for partners who already value and deliver customer success functions. The partners who follow the ILAER (Identify, Land, Adopt, Expand, Renew) customer engagement model are ideal, as they are already practicing customer success best practices, and will get your customer’s preferred business outcomes.   

2. What Processes and Rules are in Place? 

Most businesses know that strict, functional processes are essential to winning and maintaining customers. However, that doesn’t mean all businesses know how to create and manage processes that work. Research shows that while 69% of companies have documented processes, only 4% manage or measure the success of their processes. 

Best-in-Class Channel Partners:  

Will have well-documented processes that simplify and streamline the engagement, cadence, handoff, and management of customers. They have the right team members in place to handle each role and ensure that processes are followed.  

Underperforming Channel Partners:  

May have loose processes in place, and those processes may be interpreted as guidelines rather than rules. There are few, if any, checks and balances to confirm the right steps are taken at the right times. In other cases, processes can be outdated or inaccurate and set up new customers for confusion or failure. 

Pro Tip: Analyze which processes work and which fall short. See if there are overarching leadership issues or a rogue department impacting results. Then, support your channel partner in developing new processes that you know generate better results. 

Once you’ve determined processes, set a quarterly schedule to review & revise as your business and markets evolve. 

3. What Technology Do They Use? 

The right technology can make a big difference in driving results.  

Best-in-Class Channel Partners: 

Most mature channel partners already have a robust customer relationship management (CRM) in place, with built-in tools to gather customer data and extract customer insights. This enables them to be more efficient and effective in their sales approach.  They automate standardized processes to reduce human error in data, take manual tasks off an employee’s plate, and simplify customer follow-up.  

These standardized, repeatable management tasks can occupy two-thirds of a salesperson’s workday, so having the right tools in place can make a huge difference in the efficacy and the results partners produce.  

Underperforming Channel Partners:  

May still be operating off an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of customers. Even as 35% of small-to-medium businesses (SMBare accelerating their technological development, that leaves a substantial number of partners who may not have the right tools to thrive.  

Pro Tip: CRM and data commonality are critical components for success. When choosing a partner, ensure whichever platform or process they use is compatible with your own.  Clearly define customer fields, metric terminology, and the processes to share/exchange CRM information. 

4. What Metrics Do They Track? 

Data can reveal tons of growth opportunities. However, if your partners are not measuring or managing their data, they may not understand the results they’re producing.  

Best-in-Class Channel Partners: 

Use data-driven insights to track performance and look for areas of improvement. They track a wide variety of metrics and use the data they collect to better understand their weaknesses. These partners often have processes in place to keep their data secure and accurate, too.  

Underperforming Channel Partners: 

May have poor data management processes, making it tough to glean valuable insights. Their metrics are often surface-level, and they may struggle to find meaningful information from their data.  

Pro Tip: Having weekly, monthly, and quarterly business reviews can help to measure progress across data points. That way you can uncover early warning signs for issues or uncover opportunities in hidden areas of your business. 

5. What KPIs Do They Track? 

Regularly assessing your partners is a major facet of channel management. If your channel partners aren’t performing, it’s your responsibility to discover whyTracking the right KPIs is an important place to start to understand the results your partners are producing.  

Track your partners’ granular KPI performance, not just on-time renewal numbers or revenue totals.  

Use that information to identify which partners may need more support. Offer training opportunities and pair weaker partners with engagement managers to closely track their progress.  Consider a partner scoring and ranking approach to understand which partners are truly adding value to your solution. 

Closely assess the following to determine if your channel management processes also need an upgrade: 

  • Partner churn rate  
  • New partner registration  
  • Partner satisfaction 

Set Your Channel Partners Up for Success 

Once you’ve gathered data on these five crucial questions, you can use this information to see what issues need to be addressed for each partner. Doing this process regularly can help you create a stronger channel partner team and program.

Don’t have the time or resources to properly analyze, manage and optimize your channel partners? Outsourcing channel management with trusted experts will help you gain insights into your partner channels, implement a best practice customer success program, and maximize your market share within your channel.

To learn more about our SPA process and how to optimize your channel partner pipeline to achieve your unique KPIs, reach out to our ServiceSource experts today.

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