For most business-to-business marketers, a partner scorecard refers to the vendor’s evaluation of an individual partner or reseller as a means to gauge profitability and growth potential.
The inability to secure meaningful, actionable insight about partner and program activity is a serous issue. Like the old adage: “I know that half of my advertising is going to waste, I just don’t know which half.”
Factors that have limited the ability to develop valid metrics:
–The inability to effectively measure sell-through volume, particularly in a multi-tiered, multi-distributor channel model.
–The inability to correlate marketing program participation to incremental sales gains (and more importantly the direct and indirect cost of those marketing programs).
–Disparate systems and processes that can’t really provide roll-up reporting across a number of dimensions—because they were really never designed to do so.
Well, we are at the dawn of a whole new era. The technology and acumen are now available to vendors of all types to capture key insight about their channel partners, and individual channel programs. Armed with this insight, vendors can achieve greater channel optimization through improved program efficiency, partner effectiveness, and faster speed to market (or at least improved reaction time).
Technology exists to capture POS data,correlate program participation with its sales impact, capture channel profile characteristics (both reported and behavioral) and provide a single conduit to manage and track multiple programs with cross-functional reporting.
Indeed the pendulum has swung—in fact, the industry is in danger of collecting too much information(!) It is now possible to track sales contribution not just at the reseller company level, but the individual sales rep level. This includes effective sales volume, close ratios, length of the sales cycle, new vs. existing clients sales, new technology penetration, special skills and certifications, and much-much more.
I know what you’re thinking: “We’ve finally reached the holy grail of channel optimization. When can I start?”
Whoa there, Trigger. The real key to channel optimization lies not in the breadth of information you can capture, but the understanding of which leading indicators make sense for you in making the right business decisions. It is our experience that these indicators for program and partner performance can be vastly different depending on the type of product you sell, and your channel make-up. For instance, commodity products with short sales cycles are going to require different performance metrics than expensive leading-edge technology products with long sales cycles—particularly if the latter requires special channel skills and/or certification.
Next week I’ll explore how to create your partner scorecards , so stay tuned…