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Channel Data Management: Setting Up Your PRM for Success

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Introduction

Your channel program data is an extremely valuable asset. It’s what you use to prove the value of your partner program and the budget and effort invested in it. And while top level performance data is essential, so are the secondary measures that give you actionable insights into your channel partners’ journeys and behaviours, inform strategic decisions and help you forecast what’s to come.

Data does not materialise on its own. You need to actively collect, organise, and prioritise the numbers in order to understand what they mean, and use them to as a benchmark against which you can measure growth. A partner relationship management (PRM) tool streamlines some of these actions, but it still falls onto your team’s shoulders to formalise data interpretation and reporting. 

The sooner you put a channel data management plan into place, the sooner it will pay off. In spades.

Tips for Successfully Systemizing for Channel Data Management

1. Take Your Time in Setting Up

Make sure you think through every aspect of your partner program to ensure it’s correct when launched. If you’re in too much of a hurry to get things up and running, you may find that you have missed something or need to make a correction to the type of data you are collecting. Making changes and then filling in data retrospectively can be awkward for you and inconvenience your partners, sometimes causing unnecessary friction. 

2. Eliminate Manual Data Collection

The soul-destroying days of collecting, collating, and managing channel data using huge spreadsheets are over. Having a PRM in place or using some kind of data automation is essential if you’re to have a reliable, accurate, and up-to-date understanding of your program performance.

3. Make Sure All Your Integrations are Working Properly

Yes, it’s obvious, but an extra few minutes spent testing each process can save you a lot of time down the line. After all, your system for channel data management and reports may pull from multiple sources, so you’ll want to automate this process and verify that any information shared with your PRM updates in real time.

4. Understand What is Important to Your Organisation and Make Sure Your Channel Goals are Aligned so You Can Measure Progress

For example, if increasing brand awareness in 2023 is the overall company goal, the partner program goal may be to partner with companies in new verticals or geographies. If the company goal is to increase revenue by 30%, then you may be aiming to partner with companies that are a natural fit for end users, perhaps offering supplementary features or a particular type of customer support. Your KPIs would then relate to and reflect these goals, such as the number of new locations added, the number of new partners in sector X or Y, or the number of partners offering feature Z.

5. It’s Okay to Evolve Data Management Processes as You Go

It’s unlikely that your PRM will always remain exactly as you launched it. Needs change, new ideas emerge, and partners may provide useful feedback. It’s wise to get as much as you possibly can in order before going live, but it’s also perfectly normal for channel data management to adapt to accommodate the evolution of your PRM and its goals over time.

Pre-revenue Channel Data to Track and Manage

It’s important to be transparent with your team and set realistic goals. Everyone needs to understand how long it might take before you start to see converted deals and revenue flow – you could be talking months. But even though a partner program takes time to build, you can start collecting data from the very earliest stages. This will give you a clear view of your program’s pre-revenue performance and progress.

Here are some examples of pre-revenue metrics that you’ll want to consider tracking:

Here are some examples of pre-revenue metrics that you’ll want to consider tracking:

  • Partners onboarded, or how many partners have actually signed up and completed registration
  • Partner portal logins, from initial registration onwards
  • Partners activated, depending on what activation means to your business (it could be at sign-on, on completion of training, or registering their first deal, for example)
  • Training activity, including start and completion dates, and completion of any related quizzes (there are quizzes at the end of Allbound learning pathways that help to check to understand and embed learning)
  • Partner responses to content, such as number of page views, pins and comments
  • Deals registered
  • Number of co-branded content generated
  • Quarterly business reviews, goals set or partner plans built – joint activities that you’ve undertaken with the partner to make sure they are aligned and have a plan and goals in place

Partner engagement and activation are leading indicators of future channel success and the precursor to revenue. So, as well as tracking the number of partners registered and campaigns run, it’s important to measure partner progress and participation. For example, you’ll want to know that your partners are following through with their commitments to register on your portal, complete onboarding, and undertake key training. These activities are all essential preparation for effective sales. 

These activities are all healthy signs of engagement with your program, indicating the partner’s level of motivation and progress toward beginning sales.

Allbound’s analytics have allowed us to closely monitor which partners are consuming content and completing the training and onboarding we create.

Katelyn Gilett

Channel Partner Manager, Garland Technology

Automate Channel Data with PRM Technology

You won’t always be in the early, pre-revenue stages of your program. As your partner ecosystem grows, so will your channel data management needs. Your program will soon cross the threshold at which PRM automation goes from a “nice-to-have” to a necessity. 

When used to its fullest abilities, your PRM can integrate with your CRM for comprehensive, real-time analysis of your organisation’s pipeline. What’s more, your PRM can share engagement and performance data about individual segments. This is where partner ops come in, taking care of the operational details involved in channel data management, such as ensuring fields exactly correspond across all systems.

Each stage of the partner journey (such as deal registration) must be completely in sync with revenue ops processes and CRM in order to deliver an effortless partner experience and accurate channel data.

When you’re shaping your channel data management system, it’s a good time to think about what lies ahead, as well as your immediate needs. Consider creating protocols for actions that may be needed later, such as adding a new data field within your PRM. This ensures that Channel Managers are not making changes on a whim and that they are consistently following solid thought processes each time. 

Align Channel Goals & Management Practices With Other Teams

The best way to ensure channel success is to align partnership goals with overarching business objectives and strategies. Getting these goals aligned right from the outset guarantees that key stakeholders understand what partnerships will propel the organisational sales strategy forward. This is also the time to set clear expectations about the timelines involved – revenue is not going to appear overnight.

You can then define benchmarks that you want to hit on your journey to revenue, such as:

Within x weeks we will have decided which partner types we want to work with, created the onboarding and learning content, and started conversations with at least three potential partners.

Leveraging Data to Prove Your Partner Program’s Value

Keeping internal stakeholders informed of progress and performance will help you to maintain internal buy-in and support for the partner program, so it’s important to understand who wants which data, when, and how. While CRM is generally the source of truth for a business overall, the PRM will be providing richer and more detailed information that will indicate the health of the program, and part of partner ops’ responsibility is likely to be reporting on key metrics and providing insights on channel performance.

PRM software like Allbound centralises all partner activities, from onboarding to deal registration and conversion. This enables you to track various stages of engagement, including those pre-revenue measures vital to understanding your program’s initial performance and likely trajectory. 

These are some sales KPIs that Allbound collects and tracks:

  • total number of partners
  • new partner registration trends by month
  • activity vs pipeline over time
  • active partners by opportunity
  • deals registered
  • revenue per partner

It also measures valuable program engagement KPIs, such as:

  • portal logins
  • trainings completed
  • content pinned
  • number of co-branded pieces

Explore Additional Resources to Help You Measure & Manage Your Partner Program

Pair your PRM with talented partner operations teams and regular analysis, and you’ll be able to fully harness the power of channel data. To further understand what program elements to quantify and measure, read the following Allbound resources:

Channel partner scorecard template – How do you evaluate the success of a partnership post-onboarding? One way to ensure alignment between you and your partners is through a channel partner scorecard with defined metrics your account managers can regularly share with their contacts. 

Guide to increasing channel partner activation – This eBook will help you use your PRM to define and measure pivotal data regarding partner activation. Plus, we include ideas on how to audit your pre-activation offering to find opportunities for improvement.

The best metrics to measure partner performance and engagement – Are you recruiting the right type of partner? Who shows the most potential? Are there obstacles that discourage participants? Learn how to measure partner engagement and derive actionable insight from your PRM data.

Ali Spiric

Simplify Channel Management and Increase Partner Engagement with Allbound.

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