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Partner Program KPIs to Measure Channel Performance

Learn about the thirteen partner program KPIs that 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.
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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.

Partner Program Recruitment and Engagement KPIs

The following measurements are important to monitor no matter what stage of maturation your program reaches. However, they’re particularly powerful for the early days, as these performance metrics are early indicators of potential future growth.

1. 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.

2. The Quantifiable Quality of Program Applicants

Not every candidate is of equal caliber, or will even qualify for your program. Therefore, we suggest scoring prospective partners based on well-defined criteria. This KPI is particularly helpful if you can tie results to specific marketing efforts. Let’s say you launch a PPC campaign and have a wildly successful CTR and registration rate; all such wins mean little if the generated applicants are subpar. Being able to have quantifiable partner lead quality metrics can help you pivot your recruitment strategy as needed.

3. Partner Onboarding 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Partner Enablement Success Metrics

Acquiring partners is just the beginning of your program’s journey. It’s your team’s responsibility to effectively enable them to achieve their maximum potential. This means equipping them with the right content, incentives, and growth opportunities. But how do you know which of your efforts pay off and which fall short? By measuring related partner performance metrics, of course.

“It’s important to understand what you are currently doing and what stage you are in. Then you start listing where you’re spending most of your time on it. It will predominantly be around helping your internal teams to find integrations, connecting them with tech partners, helping the customer success managers find out whether their customers are stuck with an integration or maybe onboarding support with respect to integration kind of list out all your spending time,” says Krishanth Thangarajah on the Partner Channel Podcast.

7. 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.

Prospect Page

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. SPIFF Participation and ROI

SPIFF campaigns are a fabulous way to raise awareness for a new product, improve revenue, and awaken partners’ competitive spirits to keep them engaged. Each new sales competition brings fresh opportunities to learn about your partners’ innerworkings, assuming you document important performance metrics. Pay attention to how factors like different incentives, campaign durations, and success benchmarks impact the level of participation. What’s more you’ll need to prove the SPIFF’s ROI in order to continue such strategies.

11. Tier Progression & Distribution

If managed properly, partner program tiers provide extra incentive to participants to better their performance while helping your account managers focus on top performers. Tracking how swiftly partners are able to achieve the next tier (and how many of them do so) can highlight whether your criteria is too lax or too unrealistic.

Partner Sales Success KPIs

Assuming that partner performance metrics point to a strong recruitment strategy and enablement, you should naturally be awarded with respectable sales numbers. However, in business, there are no guarantees. Closely follow the partner sales KPIs below—not only will these be the numbers that interest your leadership team the most, but they can also serve as an overarching measurement of your programs’ tactics. See one or more of these partner performance metrics backslide, and you’ll know that deeper analysis is needed ASAP.

12. 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.

Active Pipeline Value

13. 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.

14. 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?

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. Generated Leads and Closed Deals Per Products

To paint an extreme scenario, let’s say you offer three different SaaS products but have 80% of partner-generated revenue tied to only one of them. This should raise questions, including:

  • Are partners confident talking about the other products or do they need more training?
  • Are the sales and marketing materials for the underperforming products lackluster?
  • Are their audiences hungry for the products or are they unimpressed with the offering or price?
  • Is there a lack of leads for the other two products OR are there significant leads but a subpar win rate?

To hunt down such answers, we suggest comparing partners’ product-specific sales metrics with those from Direct. You should also collect feedback from partners, directly.

18. 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.

Additional Crucial Partner Performance Metrics

Now that you have the necessary data at your fingertips, you can explore related partner performance metrics and questions that may influence strategic decisions.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. What Percentage of Total Revenue Does Your Partner Program Contribute?

Remember, when your leadership team considers your partner program’s performance, they’ll view it in comparison to the total generated revenue for the year. 10% growth from your partner program tells a much better story if overall revenue plateaued than if it swelled 25%.

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.
  • 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 customer 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 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.

Leveraging Metrics

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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