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Why It’s Important to Score Partners

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When fielding partner program applications and analyzing existing channel performance, it can be challenging to broadly weigh the Partner scoring is an effective way to determine which companies are well-suited to join your channel and which partners drive the most value to your channel. This strategy can significantly reduce your team’s manual effort while helping you prioritize your top-ranked partners.

Discover exactly how partner scoring works, the value of implementing it in your partner recruitment process, and templates you can use to get started quickly.

How Does Partner Scoring Work?

Partner scoring is a method of screening prospective organizations before onboarding them into your channel. You can also conduct scoring on existing partners to determine where you should focus the most effort.

When scoring prospective partners, you’ll build a set of qualifiers, ideal and bad-fit answers, and corresponding points for each. You may include factors like company size, location, and maturity on your list of qualifiers. Then, when reviewing a partner, you’ll score them for each qualifier. 

For example, you may deem a company under 50 employees to be a bad fit, while 50-150 employees are okay, and 150+ employees are ideal. In this case, you may award -1, +1, and +5 points accordingly.

You would score the prospective partner all the way down the line, then total their points at the end. When building your questions and the associated points, you’ll determine the target score range. If an organization hits the goal, they’re automatically qualified. Meanwhile, if an organization is in your “review” range, a team member will take a closer look to determine if they’re a good fit. If prospective partners score below the review range, they’ll be automatically sorted out.

Why Score Prospective Partners?

Scoring prospective partners is an effective way to determine which organizations you’ll welcome into your channel and how you should prioritize onboarding them.

Weed Out Bad-fit Partners

By scoring partners, you can quickly weed out the bad-fit partners. For example, if you don’t work with organizations of a specific size or located in different countries, partner scoring can quickly let you know which companies are a poor fit for your program.

Similarly, partner scoring is valuable for more nuanced qualifiers. For example, if an organization meets all the base-level criteria, like size, location, and partner type, it may seem like a good fit on the surface. However, when you look closer, you see this organization doesn’t have a good reason for partnering, has zero overlapping customers, and doesn’t have anyone to manage the relationship. This is a bad-fit partnership, although it initially appears to be well-matched. 

Prioritize Best-fit Partnerships

Partner scoring is also a great way to identify best-fit companies. Top-scoring organizations are not only worth onboarding, but your team should prioritize them for channel recruitment. When a prospective partner shows up as a top match for your channel, you can ensure your team focuses on recruiting and onboarding that organization quickly.

For example, suppose a company gets top marks on every single question. In that case, you’ll likely want to streamline onboarding and put your best resources on the account, as they’re likely to drive a ton of value for your organization.

Discover How to Find the Best Companies with Which to Partner.

Fill Channel Gaps 

No matter where you are in your program’s maturity, you likely have some gaps in your channel. Partner scoring can be a fantastic way to identify organizations that can fill those gaps, while still fitting your ideal persona.

For example, you can score extra points for partners in a specific region or vertical you hope to expand into. That will ensure these partners are seen as a priority and get the appropriate treatment for recruitment and onboarding.

If global partnerships are a gap you’re hoping to fill this year, be sure to consider Strategies for Expanding into International Markets.

“As a brand new company establishing a partner program and wanting to increase their reach and their coverage or an established company with some gaps in their market space, very vertically or geography focused. When you have those kinds of gaps, it just means you need to fill them so that you can basically expand your coverage and ultimately your market share.”

– Ken Chez, Arrow on the Partner Channel Podcast

Optimize Your Team’s Efforts

Your team has a limited amount of resources at their disposal, and screening potential partners is a very time-consuming process. By leveraging partner scoring, you can streamline your approval process significantly, reducing the manual time required of your team.

Why Score Existing Partners?

What tends to happen is your top few partners […] do a lot of the work and bring in a lot of revenue, or probably let’s call it the top 10 to 20% of partners, and then you start to see a bit more of a flattening out. […] So you need to see who is bringing in the results and also who has the potential to bring in more results and where is there a good fit?


Vena Solutions on the Partner Channel Podcast

When you have a channel full of partners, it can be challenging to determine where your team should invest their effort. Scoring can help you determine which partners are worth more time and resources, and which you should deprioritize. 

Similar to scoring prospective partners, you can quickly identify strengths and weaknesses by grading existing partners. With a shared scorecard, both you and your partner can see exactly how they’re doing, and which steps they should take to improve.

This method of partner evaluation gives Channel Account Managers (CAMs) guidance on how to measure partnership success and a system for constructive criticism. Additionally, a partner scorecard can help streamline review meetings, ensuring you and your partner can quickly digest the state of the partnership, understand which responsibilities aren’t being delivered, and make a clear plan forward.

Download our Channel Partner Scorecard Template to begin scoring organizations active within your channel.

Begin Scoring Partners

Scoring partners can be an invaluable way to identify where your team should invest their effort, whether you’re evaluating prospective or existing relationships. With a templatized process, you can quickly evaluate organizations based on a set of criteria you’ve defined.

Build a Channel Partner Recruitment Plan — You must recruit partners to build a strong channel program. Explore the steps you need to take to develop a partner recruitment strategy, from identifying your ideal partner to developing messaging and tracking the results. 

Best Business Account Mapping Software — Mapping shared accounts with other organizations is an excellent way to identify opportunities and score potential partners. Discover the best options available for account mapping software.

Expanding Channel Strategy Trends & Early Predictions for 2023 — If you’re planning on growing your partner program in 2023, check out these trending strategies. From lead distribution to channel partner enablement, explore the practices you should implement this year, along with examples of the strategies in action.

Ali Spiric
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