Advance Blog

The 3 Biggest Lies Channel Executives Tell Themselves Every Year

According to this year’s YouGov(  survey on New Year’s resolutions, the number one response was to lose weight and the second was to exercise more. We all know why we make these annual commitments. We want to look better, live longer and be healthier.

Chennel Executives

Losing weight and exercising are on most people’s minds throughout the year but changing personal behavior and taking action is elusive. The same is true for channel executives as they assess where they are at the end of the year and prioritize what is needed to a meet their sales goals for the next year. Channel executives know that they need to build commitments with their partners to invest and grow sales for your brand and measure partner achievement of these goals. But saying it versus doing it is a lot like the challenge of losing weight and exercising.   It is an excellent idea until it is time to walk away from that delicious bowl of potato chips or take that first step onto the treadmill.  Taking the time and making the effort to profile and scorecard your partners, build joint sales targets and action plans and preparing quarterly business reviews (QBRs) across your partner network is infrequently done and typically only with a small percentage of partners.  Why?  Because it is hard work, inefficient, and hard to measure. The questions that channel executives ask themselves are:

  • Is it worth doing?
  • What is the value for the partner and/or channel managers?
  • Do I have time to create plans and measure performance-to-plan?
  • Can I get access to the data I need to complete this task?
  • Can I get the rollup reporting to measure channel performance at all levels?

Channel executives, just like most people making New Year’s resolutions, need to be convinced by the “business case” for making the investment and effort in the new behavior.

The “Business Case” for Top New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Lose Weight: (Men’s Fitness) The Top 10 Benefits of Losing Weight
    1. Better sleep
    2. Better hormonal balance
    3. Improved sex drive
    4. Better mood
    5. Less joint pain
    6. Clearer / brighter skin
    7. Stress relief
    8. More money
    9. More friends
    10. Fewer colds
  • Exercise More: (Healthline) Top 10 Benefits of More Exercise
    1. Feel happier
    2. Help lose weigh
    3. Stronger muscles and bones
    4. Increase energy levels
    5. Reduce risk of chronic disease
    6. Improve skin health
    7. Improve brain health and memory
    8. Improve sleep
    9. Reduce pain
    10. Better sex

Most people conclude that these benefits are very attractive and motivating and are worth striving for.   Similarly, partner business planning and performance management have an equally attractive set of “business case” benefits for channel executives.

The Business Case for Partner Business Planning: (Successful Channels) Successful Channels is a provider of channel / partner business planning and performance management tools and the results below are based on the outcomes from a range of their clients implementing these planning tools.

  • Partner Scorecards: (15-30%+ Capabilities Improvement) Channel teams that define best practice scorecards, assess partner’s performance, and create improvement action plans increase partner capabilities between 15-30%+ on key metrics within the first 12 months of deployment.
  • Partner Business Plans & QBRs: (10-25%+ Growth Vs PY) Channel teams that complete 12 to 36-month business plans, profit forecasts, and conduct QBRs (Including perf-to-plan, pipeline-to-target) every quarter achieve these growth levels.
  • Partner Account Planning: (10-25% increase in deal registrations) A process of meeting with partner sales executives to identify customers and prospects that represent good cross-sell opportunities for your brand. Channel Managers that regularly conduct “Account Planning” work-sessions with each key partner sales executive achieve this outcome.

If the business case is this strong for doing partner business planning and performance management activities, then why don’t more channel teams do them?   Much like losing weight and doing more exercise, you must do the hard work to realize the benefits.

Doing Partner Scorecards, Business Plans and QBRs just got easier!

Historically, partner business planning, scorecarding (profiling), and performance measurement is completed with the help of Excel spreadsheets in a disconnected, non-scalable format with no unified rollup reporting.   It is very labor intensive, difficult to manage and not very effective for either channel managers or partners.   New cloud-based tools developed by Successful Channels dramatically simplify and streamline these CAM / Partner business processes that can now be completed in minutes vs. hours.   Because of deep CRM integration, these tools are automatically fed by actual sales, pipeline and certification data to create up-to-date performance-to-plan reporting instantly for CAMs and partners.

5-10 Minute Partner Scorecarding

The “progress bar” navigation above will guide a CAM and partner through how to create a scorecard, business plan, action plan and QBR in minutes.   Each step is designed to take a CAM or partner by the hand and walk them step-by-step through the process of creating their scorecards and plans. This guided process makes it easy to create a joint plan for achieving partner / vendor goals in minutes.  Within each step sample values are provided to the user, much like a multiple-choice question instead of an open-ended question, where it is easier to pick from options for every planning decision that is needed to be made.   These tools will turn an average CAM into a high-performance expert channel manager that can spend most of their time providing expert consultative advice to their partners versus the old way where most of their time is allocated to data research and admin tasks to prepare for these partner meetings.

Here are few examples of screenshots from these guided partner business planning and QBR processes below.

Partner Performance Scorecard:  This is a section of an instant / real-time partner performance summary for partner performance-to-plan and pipeline-to-target along with other metrics for quick business review.

Partner Performance Scorecard

Partner Capabilities Scorecard:  This is a screenshot from a comprehensive partner assessment, scorecard, goal and action planning setting workflow tool to build partner capabilities.

Partner Capability Scorecard

Five Minute Quarterly Business Review PowerPoint Builder:   A series of screenshots for how a CAM can build a customized and comprehensive QBR and annotate with their comments in minutes

5 Minute PPT Builder

All the historical reasons for not doing partner scorecards, business plans and QBRs are no longer valid.  They are no longer too much work, too hard to gather the data, and based only in disconnected Excel workbooks.  With the assistance of cloud apps, partner planning and performance management can be completed in a fraction of the time, as virtually all partners and deliver meaningful value to both partners and CAMs. And all partners are able to deliver 10-25%+ growth vs. prior year and improve their capabilities and pipeline at the same time. There still may be some valid reasons not to lose weight or go to the gym, but there is no longer any valid excuse for not doing scorecards, business plans and QBRs for all your partners.

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Award Blog

5 Key Methods to Motivate Partner Sales Reps to Register More Deals

The channel was conceived as a way to get third party businesses involved in growing a brand’s business.   To make it attractive, deal registration was introduced to address channel conflict and to protect channel partner’s margins.   Deal registration has become the mostAbout The Authors important component of a successful channel program.

The number one way to increase your channel revenue is to motivate your partner’s sales representatives to register and close more deals for your brand.   It sounds so simple, but why is this so difficult for most channel organizations to achieve?  The reason most companies miss many deals from becoming registered is that their deal registration systems and compensation plans are misaligned with partner sales rep’s motivations.  Companies are missing millions of dollars of potential channel revenue because of poorly designed deal registration processes that fail to motivate reps to register and follow through to close.

Channel executives worldwide realize that the more deals registered, the greater chance to achieve their sales targets.   This is so important that virtually every channel organization has a dedicated set of scorecard metrics for achieving deal registration goals.

Channel Deal Registration Scorecard

Setting these goals for your partners is the easy part.  Getting partner sales reps to actually register all their opportunities is much more difficult.   Making registering deals worthy of a sales rep’s time is the key.   Here are the five key methods for motivating partner sales reps to register more deals.

Deal Registration Goal

  1. Make it Easy to Register: Channel experts estimate that over 75 percent of deals are not registered because the process is too difficult for partner sales reps to complete.  Partner sales executives are often presented with four or five different deal registration systems from multiple vendors to add to the difficulty of registering deals.  The way to capture that 75 percent of missed deals is to use unifying multi-vendor registration systems (like Vartopia) to simplify the work required.   These types of deal registration tools allow partners to use one simplified system for all their deals.  They also allow partners to capture more margin by making it easier to get more deals registered and offer more competitive pricing to close deals.
  2. Rapid Approval: Sales people are motivated in the present.   Too often deals get held up in the approval process and important momentum is lost with the salesperson and the deal.   Vendors need to be attentive so that registered deals are rapidly approved.  The best practice for deal registration approval is within two to four days of submission.
  3. Link Pipeline to Plans: Partners are three times more likely to grow if they develop business plans and commit to achieving them.   There are two levels of reporting that are critical to driving more partner commitment:
      • Partner Organization Pipeline-to-Plan Reporting: The main reason vendors want their partners to create a business plan is to gain a commitment to grow their business.  But partners have other motivations.   They are looking for a way to improve their own sales and profitability.   Planning processes that help partners calculate how much money they can make along with their pipeline forecast are the ones that gain the highest partner participation rates.Below is an example of an automated reporting system for partner pipeline vs. plan.   Vendor sales executives are able to set an index for Total Pipeline (e.g., 2x plan) and Risk Adjusted Pipeline (e.g., 1x) and planning systems will automatically calculate a pipeline target.Pipeline Target and Pipeline AchievedAt any time, vendors can see their partner’s plans, performance-to-plan and pipeline to target performance for a complete look at the health of a partner’s business.Below is an automatically calculated partner profitability forecast based on the partner’s plan.
        Partner ROI
        Partners can get an accurate look at their total profitability with the sale of the vendor’s brand. This will help partners with their own investment planning and build confidence for investing in a vendor’s brand.
      • Partner Sales Rep Pipeline Reporting and Compensation:  Partner sales reps are motivated by compensation they can earn as close to when the sales activity is completed as possible. To motivate partner sales reps to register more deals, they should be provided immediate reporting on earned registration incentives
  4. Reward Registration: The biggest mistake that vendors and partners make is to delay paying partner reps for registering the deal until the actual deal closes. Depending on the vendor or the type of deal, this can be two to six months after the deal is registered.  At that point the opportunity for associating the deal registration incentive payment to the action is lost. This approach misses a huge partner rep motivation opportunity to immediately reward the registration action.A best practice approach is to allocate a measurable percentage (e.g., 20-30 percent) of the total deal margin to pay a deal registration incentive right away.   This immediately rewards the registration action for sales reps and encourages them to register more deals for your brand.  This does move a portion of the rep’s sales compensation to earlier in the sales cycle, but almost always yields a greater number of total deals registered.
  5. Align Payments with Deals:Once a deal is registered, it is far from closed and takes careful attention and follow-through from the partner sales rep to finalize it. Along with rewarding early sale cycle deal registration actions, it is equally important to reward the “deal progression” activities that move deals along.  Some leading channel organizations and partners provide deal progression rewards and incentives that encourage sales reps to stick with the deals through the entire sales cycle.
    Partner Led Sale Deal
    Partner sales reps and their organizations are the closest to new deals.  They both watch the margins for each stage of a deal very carefully. Aligning margins to each stage of the deal is critical to actively engaging both partner organizations and individual sales reps in sales process. For partner organizations, it is critical to provide enough margin percentage to allow them to move in competitive situations along with enough dollar margin to build their business. For partner sales reps, vendors and partners count on them to identify, register and move deals along to close. The immediacy of the reward along with the alignment of the incentive with each step in the sales process is critical to keeping sales reps actively engaged in the entire sales cycle.


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Activate Blog

How to Make Your CRM Work Harder to Generate Channel Growth

Over the past 6-9 months I have heard many executives mention that they are using and other CRM systems, but are not satisfied with the value they are getting for their channel business.   They say that their CRM system is not configured to support their channel – it lacks flexibility, and does not provide the planning and performance management tools that are needed to effectively manage partner growth.  So why are CRM’s not meeting the expectations of channel executives?

Top Reasons Why CRM Systems are Not Meeting the Needs of Channel Executives:

  • Not fully integrated with channel systems: CRM systems do not always have the latest sales results, pipeline data, and channel manager assignments fully up-to-date
  • Not designed as a channel manager dashboard: Key partner performance data and analytics are often not integrated into CRM systems, including partner scorecards, partner plans, performance-to-plan reports, partner pipelines, and partner marketing generated leads
  • Not providing workflow tools to manage partners: CRM systems are often difficult to use to create partner assessments, partner business plans, incentives, and partner marketing plans
  • Difficult to do quarterly business reviews with partners: CRM systems are not well configured to support the creation and delivery of QBR’s to partners
  • Channel partners are not fully compliant with registering deals: Because of various reasons, CRM systems are often missing a significant portion of their partner’s active deals

In most large organizations, or other CRMs are the “system of record” for the business.   Because they are often not up-to-date and do not provide key workflow tools for managing the day-to-day activities of a channel manager, they are either not used or are not providing much help to drive revenue in the channel.   The diagram below details what each channel team needs from their CRM system and an assessment of channel CRM systems strengths and weaknesses.

Channel Team CRM


This diagram highlights how the most valuable tasks for partners (i.e., deal registration) and channel operations team members (i.e., new partner applications, approvals, and certifications) are well supported by channel CRM systems.   However, CRM systems do not support the needs of channel managers, channel executives, or channel marketers with their most important tasks.  Fortunately, CRM systems are built for integration and these other task areas can be supported by integrating complementary solutions for channel management, measurement, and reporting.

Channel executives can make their CRM work much harder for their business by integrating a set of tools to fill key gaps in their channel technology portfolio.   Here are some guiding principles for building your company’s channel technology strategy:

Your CRM is the “System of Record” and can also work much harder for your team with the integration of missing channel management systems.  Each of the missing tools below can be easily plugged into any CRM system to improve the productivity and effectiveness of Channel Marketers and Channel Managers.

CRM Plan for Channel

Each channel user has specific needs and requirements for their CRM System.   You can turn your CRM system into an invaluable resource for all members of your channel team by giving them what they need to do their job more effectively.   Here are some examples of tools that can dramatically improve the productivity of your team’s channel management effectiveness.

Channel Manager Tool

Each channel role wants to be more effective in their mission to grow your business.   These integrated tools will give users more reasons to use your channel CRM system and at the same time do their job more effectively.   Adding these channel user-focused tools to your CRM will help turn your channel managers into expert growth consultants for their partners.   They’ll be able to use their CRM as one integrated system to manage, plan, motivate, and measure their channel partners.  Additionally, their workload will be streamlined so they can activate more partners and spend more time working with them building growth strategies.  This approach will turn your CRM from a liability to a key asset for enabling your channel team’s success.

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