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Seven Methods to Get Partners to Want to Do Joint Business Planning

Seven Methods to Get Partners to Want to Do Joint Business Planning

Every vendor that sells though an indirect channel is looking to gain commitments from their partners to invest in the growth of their brand.  One of the most important steps in motivating partners to invest in your brand is implementing an annual joint planning process and quarterly business review.  The problem with most channel planning processes is that they are designed for the vendor needs and rarely consider the things that partner’s value in the business relationship.

Below is a summary of requirements for a partner planning and performance management system designed for high partner participation and motivation.  This system provides channel chiefs, channel ops, CAM’s, channel marketing, and channel IT with the tools to manage a high performance growth channel.

Overall Channel Planning System Design Success Principles:

The Hard Part:  Getting partners to willingly participate

  1. Partner must see value to earnestly participate: Partners need to get immediate value from participating in a vendor-requested planning process to motivate them to provide thoughtful input into their individual plan.
  2. Partner value can take many forms: Partners will value profitability modelling, opportunities to earn more money, and additional earned benefits (i.e., financial, support, recognition, gamification, and enablement support) from participating in the requested planning process
  3. Give partners “something to disagree with” in the planning process: At every stage of the partner planning process, partners are looking for examples, sample forecasts, draft goals and strategies, and typical inputs to get them started defining a plan that they believe in.
  4. Partner customization at all levels: Partners are looking for a vendor’s recommendations along with the ability to modify these inputs based on their local market experience.
  5. Partners want to model different outcomes instantly: Partners are looking to model the impact of different strategies on their business performance and profitability.  Any well-designed partner planning system must allow for instant P&L, resources and cash flow modelling tools.
  6. Provide ability for partners to create a first draft plan in 10 minutes: Define a partner’s planning process so that it can be created with the fewest number of clicks possible selecting from recommended / calculated values to create the first draft.
  7. Provide imbedded calculators to help partner’s model outcomes: Integrate the ability to calculate different outcomes for different plan elements:
    • Required staffing calculator
    • Cash flow, margin & profitability calculator
    • Marketing budget, lead & revenue forecast, and ROI calculator

The Easier Part:   Creating the channel chief dashboard

Delivering a planning system designed to motivate partners to participate is relatively easy task.  Once the partner monthly goals for units and dollars are defined and agreed upon, preparing a channel chief dashboard is relatively straightforward, including:

  • Monthly partner-level goals by product or solution area
  • Partner level monthly performance-to-plan summaries
  • A rollup of partner performance-to-plan by partner, by channel account manager, band by region
  • A partner profile / assessment of key characteristics by quarter (e.g., competencies, staffing, market coverage, vertical focus, brands sold, etc.)
  • A dashboard that also fully integrates into CRM for system-of-record management

Below is a specification of a partner-focused channel planning system designed to maximize partner participation, and also get channel chiefs the reports they are looking for.  It is organized by key planning system user to ensure active participation and useful plans that partners believe in.


Designing your channel planning system to meet partner’s needs first and foremost will yield high participation rate, more meaningful numbers and better channel chief reporting.   Your partners want to participate, if the process considers what they value and helps them build more confidence in investing in your brand.

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