Channel Partner Program Audit eBook + Template
August 13, 2020

The phrase “partner audit” usually makes channel leaders think of measuring their partners’ sales numbers. While sales are an essential metric to measure, this alone doesn’t adequately audit your partners performance. The purpose of a channel audit is to discover whether or not your channels are running like the well-oiled machines you intend them to be. 

Take a more in-depth look at all angles of the business, including compliance, financial, and partner user experience. Only through auditing your partner program from several different vantage points can you ensure your partner program is running on all cylinders. 

Your channel partner audit should result in two primary outcomes: 

  • A view of the current state of your channel program
  • A strategic plan for improvement

 

1. Examine the partner landscape

Review your channel landscape to help determine if you are investing in worthwhile partners. This shows you the partners who you should be devoting more time and resources to. A clear picture of partner performance and where your partnership stands allows you to “clean up” your partner landscape.

When it comes to investing in partnerships, businesses typically go by the 80/20 rule. They invest the most time and resources into the top 20% of their partners, who are bringing in 80% of results. 

How do you go about determining who the top 20% of your partners are? Measure performance by reviewing partner-lead opportunities. If you’ve been using a partner relationship management (PRM) platform, utilize the data it provides on the number of opportunities as well as how they were worked. 

 

Remember, partner revenue must be examined from different angles. When measuring revenue, consider the following:

  • Revenue generated from your partners purchasing your products and reselling them
  • Tracking the revenue attributed to sole partners (this information is usually captured by deal registration)
  • Tracking the partners’ level of involvement throughout each stage of your sales cycle 
  • High margin products or services
  • Number of deals registered 
  • Renewal rates of customers 

 

When auditing partner opportunities, extract the following data from your PRM: 

  • How many deals were brought exclusively by partners
  • How much intervention on deals was needed by your company
  • Lead origin of each opportunity 
  • Opportunity size and scope 

 

2. Audit sales cycle metrics 

Next comes the obvious metric: sales. Gather PRM insights about your partners’ sales cycles and identify the bottlenecks. Figure out how to remove blocks to shorten the sales cycle. 

Aim for a “frictionless selling” experience. Frictionless selling involves reverse-engineering your sales process to make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you. Shortening the sales cycle enables more closed-won opportunities, and ultimately, revenue increases. 

 

To improve your sales process, you must take stock of your current status. Gather the following data sets to understand your sales process:

  1. How long is your sales cycle?
  2. What stages in the sales cycle take the longest?
  3. What part of your sales process is the most expensive and time-consuming?
  4. Which part of your sales process needs the most improvement? 
  5. What tools, training, or other resources can you implement to improve the sales process?

 

3. Audit the user experiences for channel partners

What is it like for your partners to do business with you? If you can’t answer that question, taking an audit of the partner user experience should be your top priority. This can be done in two ways. One, get feedback from your partners and learn about their experience firsthand. Two, pretend you are a partner and go through all the hypothetical business scenarios, looking for bottlenecks in your process. 

 

Investigate the following criteria:

  • Quality of partner communication
  • Communication frequency
  • Speed of communication (response time)
  • Effectiveness of updates and promotions (are your partners receiving your updates?)
  • Effectiveness of partner training

 

Ways to improve your partners’ experience: 

  • Utilize a PRM that will make doing business with you simple, organized, and enjoyable.
  • Strategically allocate MDFs to improve their marketing success and prove your investment in them.
  • Invest in the training and development of your partners. See them in person, if that is an available option, and provide ongoing digital training and other learning resources.
  • Create SPIFF programs that get partners fired up and engaged in sales activities.
  • Prioritize communication and adopt a high level of responsiveness and support for partners.

 

4. Audit your partner engagement 

Ultimately partner engagement is the best indicator of a successful partnership. The actions a partner takes, or doesn’t take, within your portal, show how committed they are to selling your product/offering. Utilize the metrics within your partner portal to determine your top partners and which partners may need motivation.

A clear understanding of partner engagement is essential to know which pieces of content lead to registered deals, deals registered, whether your portal is empowering your partners, and which partners are most active. Essentially, partner engagement allows you to see all of the pieces that drive the success of your partner program; whether that is the utilization of MDFs, specific learning tracks, or sharing of content within the portal.

 

When auditing your partner engagement, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I able to understand which content is utilized most by partners?
  • Can I track which partners are most engaged with content, co-branding, quizzes/training, etc.?
  • Do I have insight into which partners have completed training and onboarding?
  • Do I know which partners utilize our MDFs most often?  
  • Do I have a clear understanding as to which partners register deals most often?
  • Are most of the deals registered at my top companies coming from one sales rep? 

 

5. Audit your financials

Financial audits aren’t only about making sure all revenue is accounted for. Financial audits should examine billing cycles, payment practices, and agreement processes. Ask yourself, “Is our organization handling our finances optimally?” Many organizations are using inefficient processes, allowing errors and other vital information to fall through the cracks. 

If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business. Many leaders assume that if they’re hitting sales goals, everything is fine. You also need a firm grasp on financial projections to plan properly for business growth in the future. 

Inefficient or inaccurate procedures could result in slower payout times, which has a ripple effect on the speed of the sales cycle and your partners’ willingness to do business with you in the first place.

 

When auditing your financial processes, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are we collecting and tracking payments in the most efficient way possible? Is our method making it easy and enjoyable for customers to pay on time? 
  • How long does it take you to get paid? How long does it take for sales reps to get paid out? How can this process be reworked to make it more beneficial for the partners, and employees, customers, and the company as a whole?
  • What accounting procedures could be automated or optimized to reduce administrative time and errors? 
  • How clear and transparent are our financials? Are we easily able to audit our financial health? How easy is it for us to make future projections and plans based on the numbers we’re currently tracking? 
  • How much time are we spending on manual reports and information gathering? What tools can we implement to make our numbers more transparent? 

 

6. Audit legal and compliance regulations

Having another company conduct business on your behalf can be a double-edged sword. While channel partnerships broaden business opportunity horizons and can increase sales, they also come with risks. Choosing the right partnerships starts with pre-screening during the selection process. 

Research reports, which give you an in-depth view of prospective companies, are worth the investment. You can also add another layer of screening by applying to a subscription database that provides a list of companies that have a history of compliance issues. Although contracts are the first step to ensuring partner compliance, do your due diligence to make sure partners maintain it. Keep your partners accountable in continually adhering to contract terms, your business’s code of conduct, as well as local regulations.

To audit your partners’ compliance, you must first have established ways of measuring. Create a partner scorecard to measure their performance. One aspect of your scorecard will be keeping up to date on certifications and renewals. Have a structured way to keep up on changes in partners’ business. These changes could include new ownership, new subcontractors, and new locations. You also want to conduct end-customer satisfaction surveys regularly. All of this information should be stored in a platform, such as a PRM, so that it can be easily analyzed for auditing purposes. 

 

7. Audit your marketing support

In recent years, there’s been a big push for companies to empower their partners’ marketing efforts. To set your partners up for success, you must support them in becoming excellent marketers of your product as well. Vendors are now including marketing topics in their partner training such as SEO, website leads, social media marketing, and demand generation. Auditing your marketing support efforts will help you to spot weaknesses and generate more ROI. 

 

Here is what you should assess to evaluate ease of partner marketing within your portal: 

  • Determine how clear your marketing instructions are. Ask your partners if it’s easy to start campaigns with you and ask their opinion on what you could be doing better. 
  • Take an inventory of the tools you provide for partners, such as PRM (or a partner portal). Measure usage rates of tools, and if they’re low, find out why. Find out what other tools could make an impact and consider investing in them. 
  • Review your partner marketing content. Is it actually useful to your partners? Measure the results of campaigns and ask your partners how you can improve your materials. You may need to implement a content-update schedule to make sure refreshing your content doesn’t fall through the cracks.
  • Determine the ROI of your MDF program by calculating how much you allocated and then comparing it against the results it achieved. 
  • Brainstorm ways you can incentivize partners to use the tools and content you’re providing them with. 

 

Once you’ve taken an internal inventory, you should have a clear photo of how you’ve been supporting your partners and how you can improve it. Next, turn the spotlight on your partners; track and measure their campaign results and see how they’ve made use of what you have provided.

 

By measuring campaign results, you’ll be able to answer the following questions:

  • Is this a partner that’s worth investing more marketing dollars into?
  • Which incentives and programs make the most significant impact on partner performance?
  • Which customers should be targeted with demand marketing campaigns?

 

Bottom Line

Audit your partner program to ensure that your channel is functioning at peak performance. To spot weaknesses and come up with an improvement plan, you must review your partner program from several different angles. First, examine your partner landscape and decide which partnerships are worth the investment from your team.

Next, examine your sales process to ensure you’re bringing in the most revenue possible. Identifying and mitigating bottlenecks in this process will result in revenue increases. Get an understanding of what it’s like to do business with your company. Put yourself in the shoes of your partners to discover how to set partners up for success and make them love doing business with you. 

Then, monitor your finances, not knowing your numbers prevents you from making sound business decisions. By auditing legalities and compliance, you safeguard your company from indirectly violating laws and regulations that could land your business in hot water. 

Finally, audit the measurable KPIs of your marketing initiatives to ensure that you’re spending marketing dollars in the best possible ways. While taking an in-depth look into your partner process may be time-consuming, it will pay dividends in the long term. 

 

Empower Your Partners

When your business relies on partners, it’s vital to empower them to sell better and more efficiently. Allbound is a flexible SaaS platform that helps any size business recruit, onboard, measure, and accelerate growth through sales and marketing partnerships. Make every engagement between you and your partners-and between your partners and their prospects-simpler, productive, rewarding, and engaging. 

Schedule some time with an Allbound Channel Expert to discuss your biggest challenges in the channel. We’ll share insight and success stories from the successes we’ve witnessed from automating channel management.

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