Channel Champion Blog

Guest blog by Scott England, VP of Alliances & Strategic Partnerships, Zift Solutions

Breaking-the-Cycle-Blog-PicI’ve noticed a consistent pattern within large organizations that sell through third- party sources (resellers, distributors, dealers, etc.) The usual hand wringing over how to get partners to sell more is followed by the same predictable “solutions” to drive results.  “We have a new portal!  A new sales plan!  New campaigns…new, new, new!” Funny thing is – all that “new” stuff rarely translates into an engaged and effective partner community that actually contributes to the bottom line consistently. Consider SiriusDecisions recent note that “partner portal adoption is in the low teens” and has been for years.  This pattern is emblematic of almost all partner enablement programs.

The endless cycle reminds me of the current Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow or even the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day.  Channel organizations are cursed to keep repeating the same under-performing tactics again and again because no one bothers to stop and figure out how to fix the engagement issue. Layer on top of this the churn in many channel organizations and it’s no wonder channel marketers are doomed to repeat the same ineffective tactics over and over again. They’ve simply forgotten or don’t have the data to know what’s working, what isn’t, and how to move forward without repeating mistakes.

Breaking the Cycle with Accountability

But there is a way to break the cycle. It starts with a simple mission statement: “We will hold our partners as accountable to performance as we hold ourselves.“ Yes, actually hold them accountable for their performance. And the only way to do that is to commit to what I call “institutionalizing” your channel programs and data via automation – and linking performance to rewards that are accessible, accurate, and merit-based.

The best way to do this is to hook existing marketing and sales systems together (if you’ve made those investments) and then add key systems for finance, through partner marketing automation (TPMA) and lead distribution. The key is to create a seamless way to serve and evaluate partners while collecting and analyzing performance data over time. This can include:

  • Extending your CRM and MAP systems with channel marketing automation to provide demand gen programs and leads.
  • Combining or implementing MDF/SPIF/Rebate programs with demand gen for detailed campaign and revenue analysis.
  • Deploying syndication and through partner marketing automation (TPMA) capabilities that serve all your partners while maintaining their privacy (crucial for engagement).

Look for specific performance-based KPIs that tie to your MDF/Rebate programs. These metrics might include running a certain number of approved marketing tactics or taking action on provided leads within defined time periods and so on.

Evidence vs. Guess Work

Once you’ve committed to automating and storing data on your channel partner’s performance, you’ll be in the enviable position of creating specific, actionable plans that can be optimized over time based on hard evidence rather than guess work. So when you do introduce something “new,” it will be based on marketing science!

Sound interesting? Don’t miss Embracing the New Era of End-to-End Channel Automation, a joint webinar with Zift Solutions and CCI on July 23.  You’ll learn more about these ideas and specific ways to implement solutions designed to hold your partners accountable, measure results and capture more channel sales.  Click here to learn more.


Scott England

Scott_EnglandScott is one of the founding members of Zift Solutions and has been a key member in the product and sales development processes over the years. Now in the alliances and strategic relationships role, Scott’s passion for helping connect suppliers and partners to achieve revenue targets is evident the first time you speak with him. Scott holds a BS in Business Management and Information Systems with a minor in Law from Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania.