Recent research by analyst Forrester shows that successful vendors are looking at real-time channel data across the partner journey as a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and accelerate faster in the market. As such, the importance of channel data cannot be over emphasised.
The study found that the effective use of real-time channel data “improves a vendor’s speed-to-market, provides actionable insights for making in-flight adjustments, develops a new level of location intelligence to better understand their customers, opens up data accessibility to reduce payment errors, and helps quantify the return on invested capital (ROIC) in the channel.”
Much of this emphasis on real-time channel data is being driven by an increasing focus on the partner experience. Today, partners have a choice as to which vendors they choose to work with. In addition to greater leverage in their existing relationships with vendors. For this reason, they will always favour those with which it is easy to do business.
The Partner Experience (PX)
But there is good news. Forrester says brands providing an enhanced PX firstly grow faster than their peers. Secondly, are more profitable than their peers. And finally, drive higher customer satisfaction and retention downstream. It acknowledges that partners are demanding a better experience with focus on joint go-to-market planning, strategy, and program design. They are looking for recognition for their specializations through enhanced segmentation. In addition to looking for more advanced channel enablement tools to assist with co-selling and co-marketing.
With the changing economics of how products are reaching the market and buyer preferences, partners are also looking for innovative incentives to keep them engaged with the vendor.
Elsewhere, channel analyst Canalys says that “The last 18 months have shown that the partners that embrace digital technologies in their own businesses are those who have leapt ahead of the competition. Those who have adopted digital marketing and sales techniques, who have developed new managed services, and [who] prioritize flexibility and innovation through AI and automation.” Its prediction also notes that as we move into a data led economy, data skills in the channel will be at a premium.
360-degree View of Real-time Channel Data
Forrester says a 360-degree view of channel data should include a number of elements; account data, profile data, skills and certification data, incentive data, sales enablement data, and through-channel marketing data. As well as other quantitative and qualitative data.
“Managing a channel is much more complex (and expensive) if it isn’t data-driven. Channel account managers spend a large percentage of their time chasing data for partners and burning selling cycles in preparation for partner quarterly business reviews (QBRs). Channel pros are struggling with managing lead passing and opportunity progression. In fact, 73% of marketers consider managing partners a major challenge,” says Forrester.
By using a platform like Channel Mechanics to automate and tailor their engagement with individual partners – providing only what they need to see and act on, quickly and easily – vendors empower partners to grow their businesses. At the click of a button they can see what targets they need to hit their revenue thresholds. Or what certifications they have to attain.
It also provides their own account managers with an overview of their own targets. This in turn helps them keep on top of partner relationships, as all the channel data is in one place. Rather than being hidden away in spreadsheets or in emails.
Data is increasingly viewed as the lifeblood of any modern organization. The goal is to have access to rich, actionable information to provide valuable business insights. As vendors realise real-time channel data is key to unlocking growth in their own business – and that of their partners – it’s importance moving forward will only increase in value.