Why do partners dread business planning with their vendor teams? Because it is one of the most unsatisfactory, waste-of-time activities they participate in every year. Typically, the only part of joint business planning that is “joint” is done with a vendor channel account manager.
Ninety percent of the value of most partner business planning processes goes one way – from the partner the vendor. A couple of weeks ago, I had a conversation with a well-respected partner executive. I asked him a few questions about partner business planning:
Gary: “Do you do joint business planning with all of your major vendors?”
Executive: “Yes, ad nauseum”
Gary: “Why that response? Wasn’t the joint planning useful?”
Partner: “All of our major vendors arrange business planning work-sessions as a requirement of our ongoing relationship. Funding, rebates, marketing, and other support elements are discussed and planned in each joint planning work-session at the beginning of their fiscal year. The problem is that, more often than not, the vendor rep is missing key information about our relationship including LY & YTD sales, rebates earned, and our performance on other key program elements. Additionally, we rarely have quarterly business reviews (QBRs) throughout the year and we are almost always in the dark about where we stand with our vendor’s programs. What is the point of going through all this trouble to build a plan and establish program goals when they are not measured and tracked?”
Gary: “I can see that this is a major point of frustration with your vendors. How would you recommend your vendors change their planning and performance management processes to make them more valuable for you?”
Partner: “First of all, come prepared with all the right data that is necessary to build a meaningful plan. Second, make it a joint plan where mutual goals are shared, and mutual commitments are made to each other to support the achievement of these goals. And finally, conduct regular business performance reviews where we discuss each party’s performance-to-plan achievements. “
This brief interview highlights a high level of frustration coming from partners that are required to participate in poorly designed planning processes from their vendors. For most vendors, partner planning is not working well to meet either their goals or the goals of their partners. Here is a list of the six reasons partner planning and performance management is failing you.
The good news is that none of these barriers are insurmountable and all can be addressed with tools and systems that are commercially available today. At Successful Channels, we know that channel managers and partners that build plans using our professional, guided, and integrated joint planning & QBR tools generate between 10-25%+ growth vs. prior year. Partners will participate earnestly in this commitment development process with their vendors because they receive immediate, measurable value from the joint planning exercise. They know that their efforts will be rewarded with regular (monthly, quarterly) performance to plan reviews with their partners.
Putting these principles into action is possible with a professional partner planning and performance management platform. Here are some examples of guided planning process exhibits from these systems to simplify, streamline and add value to both CAMs and partners.
Partner Performance Scorecard: This is an example of a one-page partner performance summary on all key program dimensions. This is an excellent tool to conduct a partner business reviews at any time online or export to PPT.
Partner Capabilities Scorecard: This is a 5-minute tool to assess your partner’s capabilities, score each success attribute on a 1-100 scale and build a customized action plan for improved partner performance.
Partner Sales Planning and Process: Build a 1 to 3 year product-level partner sales forecast using three optional methods. Estimate a percentage of prior year sales for products sold in the past, pre-packaged (recommended) forecast for new products, or build a new custom forecast for your product – all in minutes.
A Partner Marketing Planning Process: A tool to help partners build ROI-based marketing plans with full lead-waterfall forecast, revenue, budget and ROI estimate.
A Partner QBR PPT Builder Tool: Channel managers can instantly build a QBR PowerPoint presentation where plan and performance-to-plan data is automatically integrated and can be annotated for finalizing the review
You can make your partner planning and performance management process run like a Swiss high-speed train system – on-time, efficient, and highly effective and motivating to your partners. The time to walk away from Excel-based partner planning processes that are not guided, not integrated, and deliver little partner value is now. Tools to automate and streamline your partner planning and performance management processes are available and easy to implement.