Trends Impacting Channel Management Automation
by Steve Murphy
“We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.” Amara’s Law
In today’s technology channel landscape there are three concurrent shifts altering the way enterprise technology is bought, sold and consumed. These shifts have led to a plethora of new entrants in nearly every sector of enterprise and SMB technology including channel management automation tools, giving rise to the question what’s ephemeral and what’s real?
For the Buyer
The B2B Buyer’s Journey has changed dramatically – Sirius Decision finds that over 67% of the buyers journey is now done digitally before a buyer even contacts a sales rep.
For the Channel Partner or Reseller
Changing business models are accelerating with the shift from product sales to solutions and services-based revenue and the transition toward recurring revenue streams. And if that’s not enough change, then becoming better marketers and re-tooling their sales approach to accommodate the new buyer’s journey are also essential to their success.
For the Vendor
The cloud changed everything – just not all at once. The shift from products to ‘as-a-service’ offerings has changed vendors’ partner portfolios, their channel economics and the partner incentives they offer. The transformation is well underway but hardly complete.
In a period where all three – Buyer-Seller-Supplier – are being dramatically transformed, there’s a strong desire for fact-based insight sources to satisfy the need of CFOs, CMOs and Sales executives alike. For the indirect channel, using POS data is often too late, providing only a rear-view mirror to channel partners’ selling motions, while using marketing automation offers too little insight as connecting MQLs to partner actions remains elusive at best.
For most vendors, however, there is a readily available source of fact-based customer and partner impact assessment: deal registration. It should be persistent practice across all partner-qualified opportunities – both partner-driven and partner-given.
Approved deal registrations are that single kernel of actionable data insight that lays at the intersection of the Buyer and Seller Journey as well as the Resellers’ and Vendors’ opportunity pipelines.
Linking deal registration to revenue from Opportunity to Closed Won in the sales funnel through CRM is completely linear – it can and should be done in both the Vendor and Reseller CRM systems.
Linking registered deals to campaign activities from corporate marketing automation and Through Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA) enables channel marketers to calculate ROMI on a campaign basis empowering better decisions on what marketing expenditures are reaping the best (or worst) results.
With minimal integration between deal registration systems and TCMA tools, the marketing amplification being achieved through partners can be directly correlated to the top of the marketing funnel activities used to create MQLs and registered deals. And vendors can use this for better valuations for partner-driven and partner given leads.
So what can smart vendors do?
Well, for starters, if you’re a vendor trying to maximize your pipeline visibility, start by making it easy for partners to do business with you. Begin with making it simple to register deals, ensure that they are acted upon quickly and, if/when a request is denied the reasons are clearly communicated.
Then, make it easy for partners to manage registration activity throughout every stage in the opportunity:
- Enable your partners to manage their registration activity aligned with their sales territories
- Give your partners the ability to operationalize registrations the way they want to run their business. Many want to centralize the process for better control while others want the Sales Rep to register all their own deals. Enable both.
- If possible, enable them to integrate your Registered Opportunities with their Opportunity in their CRM?
- Provide complete audit trail of all related activity being sure not to lose deal history in the Opportunity conversion process
- Consider spiff rewards to drive sales reps behaviors promoting registration early in the sales process
- Link marketing campaign info with registered Opportunities so you can help your partners and your marketing team know what’s working – and what’s not
- Use the registration data in your partner business planning process and quarterly reviews