by Mike Reilly

“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

John Wanamaker, marketing pioneer, merchant, and creator of the “money back guarantee” in 1862

Just like a good advertising or social media strategy can’t fix a product problem, the best CRM and marketing automation systems cannot fix a channel partner program strategy problem. But, by integrating the right tools with these systems, they can promise to answer the question that eluded 1960s Mad Men ad exec Don Draper: What marketing efforts are really making money?

A customer relationship management or CRM platform is often viewed as a single-source of truth for technology vendors. It allows them to better manage their customer relationships and opportunity pipeline.

In the sales channel space, however, there’s more than one single source of truth.
In the real world of B2B technology sales, most analysts conservatively estimate that 65-70% of all sales don’t result from direct marketing tactics. They actually come through indirect channels. And those indirect sales channel partners – distributors and resellers – have their own CRM and marketing tools that do not “talk” to vendor systems. Vendors gather most of their partner sales data manually, which leaves a lot of room for human error.

If you have your “single source of truth” but your partners also all have theirs, is there really any “truth” at all when it comes to knowing exactly what is driving your revenue growth – direct marketing, trade shows/events or other marketing campaigns? Or is the result of your partners’ efforts – whether funded through MDF or otherwise? And is there a better way to collect all of this disparate data from different sources to increase accuracy?

Ideally, these platforms would work together to gather the insight needed to link down-stream opportunities with upstream marketing tactics to allow for accurate measurement of marketing ROI. The answer lies in adopting three key actions when assessing the ROI of your marketing efforts: Partner Management, Customer and Opportunity Mapping, and Closing the Attribution Loop.

1. Partner Management

Many vendors adopt PRM and partner portals to help them manage partners in much the same way they manage customers: keeping track of contacts, segmenting them, and monitoring their activity. However, not all vendors take advantage of this data to help prioritize how much they invest in specific market segments.

Incorporating a deal registration platform into a partner portal is a great way to capture important data on the channel partner side that then seamlessly with an established CRM to link to customer information. A deal registration platform increases process efficiency by making it easy for partners to inform vendors about what’s in their pipeline, reduces costs by removing the burden of capturing data from the sales opps team, and boosts accuracy by automating formally manual processes.

2. Customer and Opportunity Mapping

When a deal registration platform integrates directly with a CRM, it allows for a valuable “channel connector” called mapping. This refers to the ability to directly link reseller marketing activities to opportunities to leads to sales. With an efficient, automated way to capture multiple points of data, vendors can not only see what’s in the sales channel partner pipeline, but use this information for forecasting future revenue. A CRM alone cannot capture enough information to make mapping possible. Therefore, vendors cannot possibly determine the ROI of their partner marketing efforts because they cannot directly tie them to the bottom line without a deal registration platform.

3. Closing the Attribution Loop

So, if vendors can clearly see their reseller partners’ activity and map it back to their bottom line, what’s next? Closing the loop by connecting vendor marketing efforts with partner efforts to increase opportunity. Sound impossible? It’s not! The deal registration system links the vendor marketing automation system and the partner marketing automation system together by integrating with both CRMs. This has only previously been possible through partner marketing automation tools accessible with vendor support through MDF. But today’s technology brings both systems together, creating a “single pane of glass” through which vendors can consistently and successfully tie partner marketing efforts to sales to revenue.

In addition to a deal registration platform, vendors should take full advantage of other tools in their PRM to maximize their partner programs. These include modules for distributing targeted content, training and enablement, and reporting. Combing all of these elements will help vendors not only measure marketing ROI, but take their marketing to a new level.

As Don Draper would say, “What you call love was invented by guys like me … to sell nylons.” But that’s a subject for another blog.