Channel data management and reporting are unavoidable parts of the job in channel sales.
Knowledge is power, as they say, and partner data gives you knowledge that helps track your progress, optimize your processes and demonstrate the value of your program.
That doesn’t mean that channel partner data management should be difficult or time-consuming, though. And reporting doesn’t have to be a clunky or tedious job.
Here are some best practices for structuring partnership reports your C-suite leaders will love to see – and you’ll (hopefully) love to put together.
What Channel Partner Data Should You Track?
Profit will always be the ultimate measure of success for any business, but other channel partner data can be an important leading indicator of what to expect down the road.
As Noam Horenczyk, Head of Partnerships (Product & Business) at Walnut, explained recently on our podcast, metrics that stand out initially as the most important aren’t the only indications of success.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of different objectives,” he said. “For the partnership’s objectives, you have to have some that are aligned with the company and some internal that are a bit more detailed.
Head of Partnerships (Product & Business), Walnut
He shared an example of what that looks like for his team.
“Our goal is revenue but one of my strategic initiatives is actually offering Walnut free to a certain use case on a certain website. The idea is that you’re offering something for free, knowing that you’ll be able to monetize later,” Horenczyk said.
“So, there are certain KPIs that kind of look funky initially but once you realize why they’re actually there, you understand that it’s meant for growth.”
The metrics you choose to measure will align with your own specific objectives and initiatives, but some of the key metrics that shouldn’t be overlooked include:
- Partner portal logins
- Training start rate and completion rate
- Page views and content pins
- Downloads and use rates of marketing collateral
- Return on investment of MDFs
- Registered deals and conversion rate
- Opportunities per partner
- Pipeline value per partner
- Time-to-close on deals
- Deal registrations
- Closed deals
- Active partners
A PRM system can automate tracking, managing and visualizing the channel partner data a breeze with intuitive dashboards.
In addition to tracking data about your channel sales program and partners, it also pays to consider information from partners about their sales engagements and audiences. For instance, data alone won’t indicate closed lost reasons and that type of qualitative insight from partners can shed light on current circumstances rather than past performance.
Channel Data Management: Telling a Story
Reports aren’t just a compilation of data. They should tell a story about the state and value of your partner ecosystem.
Likewise, channel data management can be used to identify opportunities for increased sales, product development, market segmentation or promotional campaigns.
For example, digging into the data can shed insight on the performance of a specific partner and indicate if additional resources could be allocated to support that partner’s efforts. Likewise, connecting the dots between multiple different data points to measure the ultimate ROI of the program.
As you prepare a report to present to your leadership team about your partner program’s performance, don’t forget the overarching narrative you want to weave together with the data.
To tell this story in a compelling and cohesive way, make sure your reports include:
- An executive summary with the biggest take-aways, summarizing your findings
- Partner-driven revenue data
- Partner engagement data
- Other partner performance data (from the key metrics listed above)
- An analysis of what all the data means and why it matters
- Recommendations for moving forward
It’s also important to provide context that frames the broader implications of the data sets. Is one type of partner attracting higher-converting prospects compared to others? Does a particular product have a longer than average sales cycle? Your reports should seek to answer the questions the data raises.
From there, create actionable next steps with insights and custom reports that you can pull, for example, from your PRM’s Channel Insights.
Ten Tips For Better Reporting & Channel Data Management
- Collect data in a timely manner. In addition to internal reporting deadlines, set requirements with partners for how often reports are expected – that could be on a quarterly, monthly or weekly basis.
- Make sure your data collection covers the entire channel ecosystem, not just top performers. Totality is essential for data accuracy and validation.
- Use a PRM to automate tracking. The PRM’s reporting and analytics features automatically aggregate key metrics like deal registration, giving you dynamic insights that facilitate better decision making in the moment, saving you time.
- Be on top of data compliance and security. For data collection, differentiate between first-party, second-party and third-party data and know how to leverage each.
- Likewise, vet any PRM provider and integrated storage solution for optimal data security. Allbound, for instance, is SOC 2 Type 2 compliant and has a data center in Germany to align with GDPR compliance.
- Hold regular check-ins with your executive team to stay on top of any company-wide goal changes that might be reflected in the channel. Alignment between company goals and channel metrics is important, so monthly or quarterly meetings are recommended as a minimum.
- Host your automated reports in the partner dashboard to keep partners up-to-date on metrics and progress. Ensuring everyone is on the same page is key to transparency and trust with partners.
- Seek out PRM and other tools that integrate with your CRM for a comprehensive overview that keeps data synced and up-to-date.
- Audit your data regularly for data cleanliness and accuracy. Human error can cause deals to be registered incorrectly or UTM codes miswritten, for example.
- Consider evolving your attribution modeling to better sift through available data and draw insights about the impact of each channel on purchase decisions.
Look Ahead With Channel Data
Partner data management is at the heart of channel sales forecasting, which relies on leveraging past performance and rolling pipeline data to create a roadmap for the future.
Improving the scope of your data means better, more accurate forecasting. The top areas that can benefit from modeling include:
- Partner acquisition
- Partner productivity
- Net revenue
With forecasting, context is critical so make sure to take into account top performing partners, noteworthy campaigns or release of new products alongside other metrics that you’re tracking.
“Revenue takes time. People understand that and our leadership understands that,” said Horenczyk.
“What you can do in the meantime is track things that will lead to revenue later.”
Finally, one of the biggest benefits of an effective reporting structure and data management process is how much easier it makes your job later.
When it’s time to put together your quarterly business review, or any other kind of report, you’ll have done the bulk of the work ahead of time.
Developing a Data-Driven Partner Program
How to Optimally Segment Partners – Segmenting your channel is immensely valuable to evolving your program’s data collection and management. Explore how to divide your partners into groups based on their specific attributes, plus see an example of this is practice.
Channel Partner Marketing Best Practices & Planning – the Ultimate Guide – Staying ahead of the curve with channel partner marketing will help set you apart and grow your channel. Here are the best practices to improve your channel partner marketing initiatives and which related metrics to track to gauge levels of success.
Partner Management Automation: How to Execute with Optimal Results – Partner management is a key part of managing channel data at scale and running an overall successful channel. Automation tools can help streamline the process and drive scalable results. Here’s how to automate your partner management cycle.
Effective & Automated QBRs: How to Improve Partner QBRs – You’ve got all the right reporting structures in place and your channel data management is a cinch. But how do you move on to creating stellar reports? We dig into how to leverage automation to improve your QBRs.
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