A channel program is a big investment with the potential for a big payoff. But in order to see those returns, a channel manager can’t take a hands-off approach. Keeping an eye on the metrics to measure how their channel partners perform and taking subsequent actions are necessary steps. With plenty of suites of next-generation tools out there promising to gather and parse information, there’s a world of new key performance indicators (KPIs) emerging to quantify partner program success and act as an analytics-based foundation for driving growth.
Which partner metrics do channel managers need to prioritize as they sit behind that control panel, scrutinizing the numbers and making the calls on how to move forward? The following thirteen partner program KPIs are some of the most important to measure and, when analyzed together, can start to give you a full picture of whether or not a channel is on the right path to recurring revenue. These KPIs can guide you to successfully managing the complex web of partner relationships that make up a channel program:
1. Active Pipeline Value
At the end of the day, channel success means bringing in revenue. It’s critical to track and calculate your active pipeline value: all of the revenue that’s being generated not just by your partners, but the players that they themselves are leveraging to move value up the chain and into your hands.
Understanding all of the active players working on your behalf and how they’re impacting the bottom line is fundamental. This channel sales KPI reveals how much the partner program is worth when measured against what you’re investing in it.
Dissatisfied with your active pipeline value? Other supporting partner program metrics like the ones detailed below will show how to best tweak the positioning of your resources and adjust your incentives.
2. Opportunities per Partner
The number of opportunities each partner produces is another program KPI critical to knowing where to direct your resources. To dive deeper into this channel performance metric, ask yourself the following:
- Are your partners in five companies, 50, or 500?
- Are their clients micro-businesses with five or 10 computers in house, or are they massive enterprises with thousand-employee headcounts that are going to need a license for each one?
- Are their clients looking for one very specific type of software, or do they have multiple needs they will need you to fill moving on into the future?
3. Number of Partners Newly Enrolled (and Total)
As noted in Nine Tips to Find and Recruit Channel Partners, the building of a channel network doesn’t happen overnight. You need to craft attention-grabbing messaging that speaks directly to prospects’ priorities and promote it to the right audiences. The number of partners that join your program measures the effectiveness of your technique and the competitiveness of your initial offering.
4. Training Completion and Activation Rates
Do a large percentage of your partners jump ship before they fully onboard? This performance metric can help pinpoint problems within your channel program. For example, if activation rates decline after you add a new training module, you may be asking too much of new participants or incorrectly setting their expectations. Alternatively, if your onboarding procedures haven’t changed but numbers still dip, you may be pursuing the wrong type of partners. Does one type of partner trail behind the other types when it comes to completing onboarding? You may be failing to cater to their unique needs.
Choose a platform that integrates your partner training with tracking so you can tell a seamless story. Document initial content engagement, organize materials into sequential lessons, and then quiz participants to confirm the completion of the training.
5. Active vs. Pending vs. Inactive Partners
Just having a business signed up as a partner doesn’t mean that it’s doing what you need it to do. Use your acceleration tool to drill down into the channel program KPI to define partners as active, pending, or inactive based on their behaviors.
If a partner is active and working on your behalf, you can invest resources to support and incentivize their growth. For pending partners, you can see where they’re stalled in the process and the best way to help them generate revenue for you. For inactive partners, you can decide if you need to retool or jettison the relationship.
The primary purpose behind this partner program KPI is to ensure you maximize your return-on-investment by focusing on those 20% of channel members who yield 80% of your results, as well as to identify common barriers that block partners from enrollment and success.
6. Program Abandonment Rate
Related to the above, the rate at which partners leave your program directly impacts your present and future revenue. Regard this essential channel performance metric as the metaphorical “canary in the coal mine”; if participation steadily dips, you have problems. Does your competitor offer better compensation? Are your playbooks outdated and failing to convert customers? While this partner program KPI won’t reveal the answer, it acts as the early-warning siren you need to inspire further investigation.
7. Partner Satisfaction
As valuable of a KPI as the program abandonment rate may be, you don’t have to wait until partners leave to learn of their dissatisfaction. Encourage two-way communication and consider sending out semi-regular surveys to participants. This can quantify partner happiness and provide insights on opportunities to improve.
8. Deal Registrations (and Prospect Page Creation)
This should be self-explanatory, especially if you have partner software that automatically tracks deal registrations. In short, this channel sales KPI reveals the proactiveness of your program participants, as well as the effectiveness of your content marketing or MDF spending.
9. Closed Deals
As the expression goes, “don’t count your eggs before they hatch.” Measure your channel program’s closed deals versus the number of registered deals to determine a conversion rate. This can identify the phase of the customer journey that needs the most improvement.
10. Prospect Page Engagement
Prospect pages do more than offer a strong first impression to potential customers; they also provide a way to track how prospects interact with the sales materials. View within your partner portal which content partners prefer to leverage and whether or not the recipients click and ultimately convert. This partner program KPI can diagnose the source of a bad conversion rate, as well as guide future sales content development.
11. Average Deal Size
In today’s world of subscription-based selling, you might assume that the size of a given deal isn’t as important as it would be if you were trying to move a traditional product. But it can be even more important. The terms of a deal that a partner is making with a client, the number of machines your solution is being installed on, the number and type of licenses, and what that all adds up to in terms of deal size is crucial to knowing how much revenue you stand to make—not just from a partner, but from any given type of deal.
If this particular channel performance metric falls short of expectations, reexamine whether there are new opportunities through which you can grow your offering. Also consider why customers choose to forego your current larger packages; is it the deal that discourages them or perhaps lack of education for your partners on how to sell? Such program KPIs are most helpful when followed with critical problem-solving.
12. Percent of Content Engaged
You’re putting resources into your content for a reason. It’s what drives your partners’ positioning of your solution and underpins the quality of the support they provide. So are your partners actually using the content? By measuring the percentage of content engaged as a channel performance KPI, you can determine which of your dedicated partners are taking the time to understand your brand. But this program KPI isn’t just about your partners following your lead. It can also show you how to improve your partnerships by incentivizing partners to utilize the content and how to hone the content to better tell the story and meet the needs of your partners and their customers.
13. Customer Renewal Rates
This particular channel sales KPI is so underrated that we dedicated an entire post to the subject, which you can read here. However, to summarize key takeaways about renewal rates, this metric reflects customer satisfaction and lifetime profitability. If this channel program’s KPI lags behind the performance of Direct Sales, it could signify that partners misrepresent your offering, recruit misaligned customers, or fail to provide post-purchase support.
14. MDF (Marketing Development Funds) ROI
You’ll want to empower partners to spread the word about your services by giving them money to put towards campaigns, otherwise known as marketing development funds (MDF). However, don’t make the mistake of blindly distributing your budget, first come, first served. Instead, use your PRM to tie specific MDF requests to registered deals to measure the ROI. This partner marketing KPI can guide decisions about which campaigns to replicate and which to abandon.
15. Overall Program ROI
This partner program KPI summarizes most of the above into a single number. It is the answer to the question your leadership team will ask directly or indirectly, again and again. For this reason, documenting all expenses is essential, including those related to designated software, program-specific content creation, internal resource utilization, and MDF campaigns. What’s more, ensuring you have proper attribution in place for generated revenue is a must.
16. Audience-Specific and Product-Specific Performance
Think of your channel performance metrics as if they were lab results from routine blood tests; good news, your liver and kidneys are operating normally, but the glucose levels are concerningly high, suggesting you may need to modify your lifestyle.
Your PRM data dashboards should offer the same level of detail by enabling you to segment the above-mentioned KPIs by country, partner type, audience, and product-specific performance. For example, if channel revenue grows overall but partners fail to sell a specific software package, this could indicate that you should create additional training. Similarly, if a playbook proves ineffective with customers from a certain country, you will know that alternative materials are necessary.
How to Leverage Channel Partner Performance Metrics
Channel performance metrics mean nothing if you fail to assign value and leverage them for future sales and marketing strategies. Harness your newfound knowledge by doing the following:
- Leverage performance metrics to motivate partners to improve. Be transparent about how program participants compare to their peers regarding the KPIs you care about the most. A valuable tool for communicating such metrics is a channel partner scorecard, ideally utilized consistently and uniformly across the program.
- Build data-driven partner tools. Creating a multi-level partner program enables you to reward top partners while setting clear goals to inspire lower performers. Not only are accurate partner-specific KPIs necessary for determining who qualifies, but they also help map out the criteria in the first place. After all, if 80% of participating partners meet “top tier” standards, you clearly need a more ambitious threshold for the highest performance level.
- Bridge gaps between your partner program and Marketing. How does your marketing team know if their battle cards resonate with users, or if they’re driving quality leads with paid marketing campaigns? Sales data. Share engagement and conversion KPIs to help them refine their partner-oriented content.
- Strengthen your strategies for both partner and direct sales initiatives. It’s likely that your partners have different contacts than your direct sales team, shedding new light on the effectiveness of select strategies. Share engagement and revenue KPIs (particularly regarding specific audiences) to empower the sales team as a whole.
- Earn an increased budget. Your company’s leadership has a limited budget and a number of outstretched hands, leaving them with a number of difficult choices. The more your performance metrics verify that past spending yielded fruitful results, the easier it will be for them to maintain or increase the partner program’s spending.
- Test new strategies. A strategy considered “tried-and-true” runs the risk of growing stale if used too frequently for too long. Therefore, it’s crucial that Sales and Marketing experiment with new tactics, tracking priority KPIs along the way. Even the failures are beneficial if you have an established way to quantify the results and hypothesize why.
- Audit your partner and customers funnels. Last but not least, partner program KPIs are an essential tool for understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. The above thirteen performance metrics will illustrate the full journeys, from the initial partner onboarding to their generated revenue. To learn more, check out Auditing Your B2B Sales Funnel – Recommended Process and Tips.
- Allocate a limited budget strategically. 2020 kicked off a turbulent decade that brings the business world one curve ball after the next. While some saw their partner program’s budget grow, others saw their company tighten the purse strings. If you find yourself in the latter scenario, having comprehensive metrics can help you understand how to effectively focus your budget. For example, partner marketing KPIs can tell you which campaigns are foundational to your success and which are nonessential. Similarly, if partner engagement metrics reveal one type of content to receives significantly fewer clicks than another, you can delegate your reduced budget towards the more successful of the two.
The preliminary step to accomplishing any of the above is to find a software solution that automatically tracks and segments your priority performance metrics. You should be able to view KPI growth for the program as a whole, as well as see individual partners’ or groups’ activities. To lessen unnecessary work, find a platform that visualizes the data and easily shares it with selected stakeholders.
Step Up Your Partner Program KPI Tracking with Allbound
To measure these partner program KPIs with optimal accuracy and efficiency, consider utilizing a PRM tool like Allbound. This will enable you to automatically track engagement, associate MDF distribution to leads, consolidate your CRM and PRM program pipelines, and automate partner onboarding and content sharing.
To learn more about how Allbound can help measure and improve your partner channel performance, request a demo or contact us today!
Further Your Learning About Partner Program Performance
Measuring partnership KPIs means little without the ability to distill underlying causes and derive subsequent strategies. The resources recommended below should help you further understand channel metrics and how to respond to the data:
- Why Channel Should Pay Attention to SaaS Renewal Rates – As channel professionals, we tend to think of a closed deal as “the finish line,” despite the fact that the user journey continues well beyond. Explore why SaaS renewal rates is an important KPI for assessing your partners’ target audiences and communication.
- The Best Metrics to Measure Partner Performance and Engagement – While we referenced partner engagement metrics in the above article, this piece digs into this particularly important set of channel KPIs and further explains the next steps based on fluctuating performance data.
- Guide to Increasing Channel Partner Activation – If your channel metrics suggest that most partners swiftly disengage, this eBook will guide you towards figuring out why and taking action to rectify issues.
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Ali Spiric leads Allbound’s content marketing to cultivate awareness for the ultimate PRM solution. Ali is a digital marketer that thrives in the B2B space.
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