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2022 Channel/Marketing Benchmark Survey

96% of B2B leaders expect to increase revenue directly attributed to their partner ecosystems

B2B executives are nearly unanimous in their expectation that indirect sales and marketing programs will drive more revenue in 2022. Fully 96% of respondents to the second annual “Channel/Partner Marketing Benchmark Survey” conducted by Channel Marketer Report and Demand Gen Report said they expect to increase revenue directly attributed to their partner ecosystems this year.

Accordingly, most respondents anticipate gains in their individual primary measures of channel program success, which range from attributable revenue to account retention. More than a third (37%) expect to achieve a significant increase in their prioritized metric. In addition, 54% are confident that they will see a marginal increase in their primary measure of success. Those gains will be driven by expanded ecosystems and investments in the programs that support them. Of the respondents, 82% will be adding to their roster of partners. Channel program budgets will be boosted by nearly 70% of those surveyed, as they upgrade a variety of support services and activities such as partner training, channel incentives and partner relationship management. Many of the respondents admitted there is room for improvement in their channel programs, as almost two-thirds described their channel program as only somewhat effective. Nearly 20% said their efforts were not very effective or worse.

Business executives anticipate that indirect sales and marketing programs will play a bigger role in driving revenue in 2022. They also indicated that significant improvements will be seen in a variety of primary measures of success, including channel-acquired new customers, channel general leads, channel partner engagement and retention of channel-assigned accounts. More than a third of the respondents said they expect to see a significant increase in their primary success metric.

 

“66% of B2B leaders anticipate more than 11% gain in revenue attributable to channel partners.”

By what percentage do you expect to increase revenue attributable to channel partners in the next year?

How would you describe the goals of your channel partner program as related to your primary measure of success?

As noted, more than 80% of respondents will increase the number of partners in their channel ecosystems — and more than a quarter will do so significantly. At the same time, business leaders are adding a variety of nontransacting partners to their channel ecosystem mix. Boosting their benches of referrers and influencers. Of the respondents, 15% have a structured referral program that compensates nonselling partners for generating leads that are ultimately converted to customers. A smaller number, 13%, said they incentivize, reward or otherwise compensate a variety of partners — thought-leaders, influencers and/or subject matter experts — to influence potential customers.

 What are your company’s plans regarding the number of partners in your channel ecosystem?

Which of these channel partner or indirect sales and marketing programs have you worked with in the last 12 months?

 Business leaders recognize that their initiatives may require more than just a few small repairs. Fewer than 20% of the respondents describe their current program’s ability to sell and market through channel partners as very effective. Nearly two thirds rated their channel sales and marketing support as only somewhat effective. To ensure they achieve the goals set for their channel programs, respondents said they will ante-up more program-related funds. Nearly 70% of those surveyed are planning to increase financial investments in channel marketing support.

“Nearly 70% of those surveyed plan to boost spending on channel marketing support.”

 

How would you describe your company’s current overall program to sell and market products and services through your network of channel partners?

How will your channel marketing budget be adjusted to support your company’s overall program to sell and market products through channel partners?

If channel programs aren’t as effective as many respondents would like, it’s not for a lack of trying. Clearly, significant investments are being made. The survey revealed that B2B executives have put ample funds into the technology stacks that include incentive management, channel training and partner management. Further, channel marketing teams continue to provide help with customer events, account-based marketing initiatives and social messaging. Vendors are enabling partners with through-channel marketing automation tools. And many provide their partners with training to help them up-skill their marketing ability.

“More than 40% of respondents plan to upgrade solutions supporting partner training/learning management, channel incentive program management and partner portals.”

 

Which of the following channel partner program solutions do you currently utilize to support your channel partner sales and marketing goals?

 Which of the following activities do you offer to support your channel partners?

Which of the following marketing assets/materials do you provide to channel partners?

Which of the following channel program-supporting solutions will you upgrade or implement in the next 12 months?

Engaging channel partner staff more frequently is increasingly important considering the rate of employee turnover at many companies. In its “2022 State of the Partner Ecosystem” report, Crossbeam, a partner ecosystem platform provider, noted that more than half of partnership professionals switched companies last year.

 

Which of these channels of communication do you use to stay in touch with your channel partners?

B2B executives remain confident that expanded channel ecosystems provide a reliable route to market. While many in-place partner programs are falling short of being “very effective,” vendors expressed confidence that investments in expanded channel ecosystems and the programs that support them will yield better results. In 2022, B2B executives expect their larger teams of channel partners to achieve significant gains in attributable revenue, and a variety of prioritized metrics. Recognizing their responsibility to engage and collaborate with partners more effectively, B2B executives are committed to allocating more resources for channel incentives and partner training. At more than 40% of the respondents’ companies, partner portals will be added or upgraded.

Channel Market Report and Demand Gen Report surveyed 111 B2B marketers during the months of December 2021 and January 2022 from a variety of industries and company sizes to learn more about their channel program and the investment they are making in them. A significant number of channel program leaders report up to c-suite executives. More than 20% of the respondents said either they of their program leaders report up to the Chief Executive Officer. Slightly more — 22% — answer to the Chief Marketing Officer. About 15% of the respondents said their channel programs are overseen by the Chief Operating Officer or Chief Revenue Officer.

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