Channel Mechanics

3 Steps to Improve your MDF Program Performance

Channel Mechanics

Is the performance of your MDF Program where you want it to be? If not, what steps can you take to improve MDF program performance?

It was great to see so many channel marketers and program leaders at this year’s The Channel Meet Up in London! An interactive day discussing key industry trends, and an opportunity to network again, while talking all things channel. With MDF performance being a hot topic over the day, we’re keen to share some of the key insights and best practices we learned.

Encorporating everything from whether accruals vs proposals based MDF is the way forward, to where to start, or how to improve, so many questions around MDF performance were discussed. Ultimately we learned, a successful MDF program comes down to three things:

    1. Understanding the MDF Program Structure,
    2. Following clear metrics to measure and report on MDF spend and
    3. Enabling channel partners with the right resources, support, and tools for success.


3 Steps to Improve your MDF Program Performance


1. Understanding the MDF Program Structure

The Program. Have an official, documented MDF program where channel partners can access funds and / or rebates to fund marketing activities to drive demand.

Fund Allocation. Develop a defined process where partners can participate and access MDF – whether its accruals or proposal based, with an established ROI measurement in place.

Program Rules. Document well-defined program guidelines for earning funds (e.g. requirements, activities & ROI metrics). Subjective guidelines will result in low adoption. And for those partners that do participate, the program is open to misinterpretation.

The Approval Process. Design a step-by-step workflow illustration of the submission, approval, allocation, claim and payment process. Establishing a consistent set of standards, along with a strategy to manage and track the success of your channel spending, will help you measure partner performance. This in turn will lead to increased ROI and higher partner adoption.

Additional Funding. Detail any additional funding available on top of standard allocation incentives, inc. eligibility requirements for partners seeking rebates based on higher performance achieved. Or Business Development Funds (BDF) for new partners or big bet projects.


2. Following Clear Metrics to Measure and Report on MDF ROI 

Dispersing funds and evaluating marketing performance is complex. Nevertheless, it is made a little easier with a consistent, synchronized process with clearly defined guidelines. Tying all of these elements together, and including quantifiable metrics, helps in partner participation, increased performance and measurable ROI.

Example MDF Funding Process:

    • Channel partner requests marketing funds. The request to include an estimate of leads, sales pipeline, deal registrations and ROI forecast, based on bookings
    • Vendor reviews marketing activity and approves funding based on program rules
    • Channel partner executes marketing activity
    • Channel partner claims marketing activity including Proof of Performance (POP)
    • Channel partner enters qualified leads into the vendors pre-defined deal registration tracking system
    • Channel partner pipeline reviewed by vendor PAM in business reviews
    • Channel partner closed revenue is updated into the vendor’s tracking system
    • Vendor validates the marketing activity, the POP program and approves reimbursement to the channel partner
    • Vendor continues to fund the channel partner’s marketing activity based on marketing guidelines and the achieved leads and deals (revenue) closed.


3. Enabling Partners with the Right Resources, Support, and Tools for Success

Each MDF activity is distinct and requires different performance goals and objectives. So, to help your channel partners achieve the required benchmarks, it is imperative to enable them with the right resources, support, and tools for success.

Branding: Detailed brand guidelines, including logos, font style, usage formats, messaging, and websites.

Channel Playbooks: Readily available marketing campaigns including email templates to set-up drip email campaigns, send product announcements, and add Call to Actions (CTAs). This might include eBooks, white papers, newsletters, offers, case studies, etc. Include sales scripts for making initial contact and qualification of prospects or handling objections/disputes. Give partners the opportunity to create landing pages for sponsored events that allow customers to easily sign up and attend. Give Partners access to social media tools that queue content on various platforms automatically. All channel partners should have easy access to all the content and tools within your partner portal, allowing partners to take the initiative and be self-sufficient, without relying on you.


While many partners lack the dedicated resources to execute marketing activity efficiently, this can be an opportunity for you, as a vendor, to create stickiness. Vendors that give partners the option to use their MDF on concierge-led demand generation campaigns to generate, qualify and nurture leads, are reaping the benefits.


To Conclude

Your partner program is the vehicle driving your organization toward growth. And MDF Program Performance is the engine that drives partner engagement. By following these best practice steps to define and promote a flexible, simplified program, you will succeed in helping partners stay active in your MDF program. But remember, running a winning MDF program requires closely tracking investments and ROI with the goal of encouraging them to continue to add value and maintain success.

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