Channel Champion Blog

by Chris Becwar

with-felt-tip-penChannel program ROI measurement is nothing new; it’s always been something that channel professionals have strived to do. But let’s be honest, it’s never been something that people have been able to do particularly well. Not surprising, given the numerous levels of complexity inherent to the channel. This challenge has led to ROI being seen as an unattainable ‘holy grail.’ But the concept of channel ROI has become a very commonly discussed topic lately. Why so? Here’s what we’re hearing in conversations with clients.

One key factor is the shift away from traditional allowance-based (aka co-op) partner funding based on past revenue performance to more proactive, discretionary spending (MDF) based on future growth opportunity. Understandably, finance departments get queasy about giving large lump sums of money to any external company based on a proposed plan of future action that may or may not pan out. A big competitive advantage goes to the channel that can get the most ‘bang’ for their MDF buck and really measure what’s working so that they can be constantly improving and minimizing the financial risk involved with these payouts. This hinges on truly understanding what is driving revenue (and what is not).

Another key factor is the bar of expectations in this ‘new reality’ of highly-automated and measurable digital marketing… it just isn’t acceptable any longer for CMOs to have large sums of money in their marketing budget that don’t map to some solid indication of what return it is bringing. For years, MDF tended to be justified as a ‘necessary evil’ by many technology companies – a needed pre-requisite for running a channel that somehow escaped the microscope of ROI measurement. Hope of truly connecting the dots on return was seen as a pipe dream. Those days are coming to an end.

Additionally, with the rise of vendor-approved (and often vendor-underwritten) through-partner marketing agencies (TPMAs), it is much more realistic these days to expect to see reliable, objective outcomes data on partner marketing campaigns. So instead of VARs executing campaigns on their own separate systems and submitting results data that is murky and questionable at best, partner lead gen campaigns are more commonly executed on a shared, trusted platform where the results are visible for all to see. That doesn’t mean that the ROI measurement is going to become a perfect 1:1 – automating measurement of a lunch-and-learn roadshow still presents complexities, for example – but it’s a big step forward.

For those interested in exploring trends and best practices related to channel ROI further, the CCI team will be hosting a few upcoming live events. We will be hosting a “Channel ROI Measurement” webinar on April 9 at 10:00AM (PST) that will focus on the rise of modern channel program measurement and its implications for revenue and market-share growth. Click here to register for the webinar.

And then, on April 23-24 the CCI team will be hitting the road for Baptie & Company’s annual Channel Focus Conference. At the conference, our SVP of Sales and Marketing, Steven Kellam, will drill into the ROI topic even further regarding what key ROI metrics we all should be thinking about at each step of the channel program lifecycle.

If any of these dates work for you, please join us… we hope to hear your perspective on this thorny topic!