As the world of partnerships and channel sales matures, the expectations for those programs have also expanded. Smooth efficiency and a great, partner-first experience are musts.
And that means the requirements around channel sales operations have also changed.
Partner Operations is the team that works behind the scenes to manage the technology, processes and workflows essential to delivering successful partner programs and running a healthy partner ecosystem.
But when it actually comes down to it, how do you successfully operationalize partnerships?
These are some of the most important parts of the channel sales operations that can be optimized for a smoother workflow from internal goal-setting to external communication.
For each piece, however, it’s crucial to remember that Partner Operations – and partnerships as a whole – do not work in a silo. Internal alignment and executive buy-in are paramount for overall success.
Organizations with more mature partner ops teams drive more revenue from partners, have more partner types, better design their partner programs, and rank partnerships as more important to the future of their organization.
The State of Partner Ops HubSpot 2022
Channel Sales Operations Goal Setting & Reporting
When you’re not sure where to start with partner operations, take a step back and evaluate your goals. It’s much easier to set up a road map to success when you know where you’re heading.
When you’re setting goals for partner operations, make sure to keep them data-focused and trackable, like:
- Total number of partners
- New partner registration
- Active pipeline value
- Active partners
- Deals registered
Look at these KPIs both in terms of trends month-over-month – or quarterly, annually or any other time frame that suits your purposes – as well as how they fit into the overall company goals.
Likewise, work closely with other teams to ensure cross-departmental alignment on your goals. Sales, marketing and RevOps are particularly important for coordination and cooperation.
That’s because the most successful Partner Ops are embedded throughout an organization, not just in partnerships. Hold regular check-ins to stay on top of goals and pain points throughout the company.
Once your goals are outlined, the next step is to optimize the processes that go into making them a reality. Starting with: data collection, reporting and analysis to identify areas for opportunity.
One of the core responsibilities of Partner Ops is analyzing data to provide insights and direction that enable channel sales. This is fundamental because it combines both the strategic and tactical functions of the operations role.
In order to effectively analyze data, you must efficiently collect data. Without the right tools and automation, this is an area where Partner Ops often struggle.
A PRM allows you to automate drilling down into channel growth, engagement actions, deal data and content success all in one place instead of manually tracking each of these components.
Proving the value and ROI of partnerships comes from being able to analyze and report on the data that you’ve collected. Not only is it important for knowing the scope of partner impact, it builds a culture of transparency across internal departments and external stakeholders.
As with data collection, automation is a powerful tool to effectively track and move data amongst various stakeholders. Automating partner reporting can be one of the biggest easy wins for Partner Ops right off the bat by implementing a tech stack or PRM with native business intelligence capabilities.
For one, your PRM allows you to house all data within a single platform which streamlines monitoring the results of specific marketing activities, campaigns, and partners. It also makes it possible to automate data visualization and custom reports, which you can then house in the partner dashboard so that everyone is kept up-to-date on metrics and progress.
The more bespoke and manual partner data sharing and communications, the less an organization can scale going to market with its partners.
The State of Partner Ops HubSpot 2022
Supporting the Ecosystem Through Partner Ops
Once you’ve optimized your metrics and reporting, look to the other parts of your channel sales operational processes. Optimizing these areas supports the entire partner ecosystem.
It’s important to clearly define the parameters of duties and responsibilities for the partner operations team. The roles of channel management and channel operations may have overlap, but are fundamentally different in terms of scope and priorities.
A channel manager, for example, will be responsible for partner onboarding. A partner ops manager, on the other hand, can support these functions by ensuring the right technology and processes are in place.
Likewise, make sure to differentiate between Partner Ops, Sales Ops, RevOps and other tangential roles to make sure there are no gaps and to avoid internal conflict.
This sets Partner Ops up to be able to best support the partner program as a whole and prioritize the partner experience – making it partner-first and partner-led – while also aligning with other departments for overall organizational success.
From there, look to optimize specific parts of the partner journey such as onboarding, lead management and compensation. In each of these areas, automation plays a pivotal role in creating more efficient processes.
Onboarding & Training
Streamlining your onboarding and training operations sets partners up for success, allowing them to focus on selling.
Manage your learning materials and other content in a single repository to avoid duplications of materials. This is also important to ensure that partners are able to access what they need, when they need it.
At the same time, track training and other engagement-related KPIs to see what is working and where your program can be improved. Share this feedback with the rest of the partner team with specific data to back up your feedback.
Lead Management & Distribution
Start by documenting your lead distribution and deal registration process to ensure fairness and transparency among partners. Having a document to refer back to also helps avoid channel conflict.
Here are three more best practices for Partner Operations to keep in mind:
- Integrating your CRM and PRM to avoid duplicative deal registration from different partners.
- Using automation to ensure a quick response time if a lead is disqualified or rejected to avoid keeping partners on the hook.
- Creating a comprehensive view of your pipeline to keep partners informed and accountable, while feeding your internal team vital information about what to expect in terms of upcoming sales activity.
Rewards & Compensation
Partner Ops also play a crucial role in the strategy behind channel sales incentives.
Solidifying this strategy helps make sure that the reward campaigns and commission structures follow best practices while also leading to the best ROI.
In particular, areas that benefit from a Partner Ops perspective include:
- Identifying opportunities for growth from partnerships where an incentive program would provide appropriate encouragement.
- Untangling the data to prove the value and ROI of a rewards program.
- Setting up automated reporting structures to track partners’ progress that can be used to gauge reward opportunities.
- Ensuring timely and clear communication with partners about compensation that instills trust. For example, set up an automated commissions dashboard.
- Creating triggers to automate rewards, where applicable.
Additional Resources for Successful Channel Sales Operations
Reporting Structure Best Practices For Channel Data Management – If you’re looking to improve your reporting in particular, this resource covers best practices for Partner Ops teams to keep in mind. From the most important metrics you should track to how to put together reports, here’s what to do.
What is Partner Ops and Why It Matters – Need to sell the benefits of Partner Ops to the rest of your organization? Here’s a recap on why Partner Ops is such an integral part of a successful channel sales program. Plus, a breakdown of exactly what Partner O-ops does.
Repeatable Processes Are the Secret to Partner Operations Success – This is the secret sauce to successful partner operations: repeatable processes. But where exactly do you start? Dig into the best channel sales processes to start with and how to make them easy to recreate.
- Live Podcast Recording: How a partner-first approach will transform your revenue generation - March 27, 2023
- Shortening the Sales Cycle By Prioritizing Partnerships - March 21, 2023
- How to Utilize Partners in All Aspects of Your Organization - March 1, 2023
Simplify Channel Management and Increase Partner Engagement with Allbound.
Get Your Score!
Your Partner Relationship Management Journey Starts Here
Give your channel partner program an in-depth health-check utilizing the four key performance indicators (KPIs) proven to increase pipeline velocity.
As a bonus, you’ll see exactly how you stack-up against fellow industry leaders and get intelligent recommendations to improve problem areas – all in just minutes!