Achieving Business Objectives with a Data-Driven Channel Partner Portal Software
A vendor’s channel partner portal is very similar to a digital hub where the vendor’s and their partners’ data is stored and available for access to all parties 24/7. This collaborative data hub creates an environment for sharing insights and provides opportunities for both vendors and their partners to accelerate growth and increase customer satisfaction. Such portals are designed to add value to channel partnerships and make channel management more efficient and effective.
When it comes to managing current channel partners a channel manager, amongst many other obligations, is responsible for measuring partner engagement and satisfaction levels, revenue, productivity, and ROI. A channel partner portal provides channel managers with the data they need to measure these milestones and make informed business decisions.
The diagram below illustrates the results of the 2017 Enterprise Analytics Study showing companies’ use of data in making business decisions:
The First Steps:
At conception, a business needs to outline the 3 most important goals for at least its first year:
- Business Aims: this is where a business declares a vision for their future and their purpose.
- Business Objectives: here a business defines the measurable targets for how to reach their business aims
- Mission Statement: this statement announces the business’s values and visions.
Every vendor is unique and the data they measure depends on their corporate goals. Hence, the portal they employ needs to accommodate all the bells and whistles for measuring their channel-objectives.
Setting Channel Objectives
It’s a well-known fact that you get what you measure! Successful vendors align their corporate metrics with the objectives they have set to measure. Therefore, before designing and granting channel partners access to their partner portal, we recommend vendors outline their corporate objectives and a plan for measuring these objectives. Once channel managers, members of the organization, and all involved in the value chain are clear on the corporate goals, vendors need to take the time to invest in a system that is able to effectively measure and manage against their set objectives.
As expected, there are many factors that influence a vendor’s channel-related objectives. However, for all businesses, there are 2 major type of objectives:
- Business effectiveness
- Operational efficiency
In this post, we will take a look at how a data-driven channel partner portal can assist a vendor in achieving objectives that are related to business effectiveness:
- Increasing Profitability
- Increasing Market Share
- Diversifying and Growing Revenue Streams
- Increasing Partner Satisfaction
- Improving Customer Experience
Channel sales managers have a big role in contributing to an organizations revenue, establishing and maintaining an aligned relationship, as well as managing the sales pipeline with partners. Consequently, channel sales managers need to have access to a portal that gives them the ability to measure and manage deals and pipeline performance.
To keep the sales pipeline momentum, a vendor’s portal needs to be readily accessible by all parties and have the capabilities to answer partners’ questions, provide a clear product roadmap, and ensure partners have all the support for a successful and profitable relationship.
Today’s channel partner portals supply an organization with a great deal of actionable data that can be used to increase sales and profitability. However, before investing in a portal, vendors need to discover what data their partners and sales team find important and choose a portal that delivers actionable insights to these data. We recommend to our clients to empower their salespeople and partners with a portal that provides information on every step in the sales pipeline. A vendor would find it beneficial to share and study the data to identify all the steps that resulted in driving sales as well as all the data that outlines where partners struggled to close a sale or missed opportunities. By sharing such insights with partners, vendors can make partner specific recommendations for a desirable outcome.
80.7% of executives view their data investments as having successfully generated business benefits.
Source: NewVantage Partners LLC, Big Data Executive Survey for 2017
If the median Fortune 1000 business increased the usability of its data by just 10%, it would translate to an increase in $2.01 billion in total revenue every year.
Source: The University of Texas at Austin
Increasing Market Share
A constant strive to increase market share is a vendor’s key to success.
By employing predictive analytics, vendors are able to identify potential customers as well as their future behavior and buying habits. Looking at such data gives vendors the advantage of creating marketing programs specific to these future buyers and ultimately increasing their market share.
Based on the results from analyzing their historical data, vendors can build a model to strengthen customer relationship and protect their existing market share. Analyzing historical data assists vendors in identifying marketing and sale strategies that work and provides opportunities for fine-tuning their conversion rates.
In addition, to increase market share, vendors can study their available data to discover events that gave rise to a certain behavior. This information can be leveraged to generate new opportunities for existing and new customers.
Predictive Analytics: Using historical data and different techniques such as data mining, statistics, algorithm, and machine learning to predict future events.
66% of sales professionals report that using predictive analytics increases their sales velocity.
Source: Salesforce, 2016
Diversifying and Growing Revenue Streams
Acquiring different revenue streams ensures cash flow even in times of economic declines. Finding the next path to grow revenue is a risky, at times futile, step for a vendor to take. However, history has proven that not being diversified enough can hurt a business – remember Blockbuster Video?
Aggregated data can provide a vendor with an impressive amount of information about where their industry is heading. Using different data sources such as customer experience and partner evaluation can also provide the necessary information for diversification. Regular quantitative surveys of existing customers or the vendor’s target market provide valuable insight into changes in consumers’ behaviors and needs.
Customer journey and product engagement provide vendors with a wealth of data for testing and learning the trajectory of an industry. By segmenting customers into groups based on characteristics, behavior, and preferences, vendors can deliver relevant products and experiences along the customer journey.
78% of organizations agree that the collection and analysis of big data have the potential to fundamentally change the way their company does business over the next 1 to 3 years.
Source: IDG’s Enterprise 2016 Data & Analytics Research
Increasing Partner Satisfaction
One of the marks of a successful vendor is the satisfaction of their channel partners. The way partners are treated directly correlates to their performance. Aggregating the shared data through a portal can supply a vendor with immense insight into their partners’ performance. The insight gathered through data provides the information a vendor needs to improve their channel partnerships.
The aggregated data also provides the vendor with their partners’ engagement and demonstrates which partners are using the vendor’s sales and marketing programs as well as how partners are configuring, implementing, and supporting the end-customers. An effective channel management strategy takes into consideration the power of partner engagement and how it contributes indirectly to more sales.
Tracking the results of a vendor’s marketing program is necessary for making decisions on the distribution of future marketing dollars and resources to partners and identifying partners at risk. The more a vendor helps their partners with sales and marketing, and supports partners with tools and resources that make marketing and sales easier and more efficient, the faster partners can increase revenue.
Some of the information a robust channel partner portal can provide a vendor are:
- Product education
- Following the partners’ impact throughout the sales cycle
- Partner profitability
When enabled with platforms and processes that support channel partner efforts, the channels achieve:
- 28% shorter average sales cycles
- 13% more sales reps achieving quota
- 12% higher lead conversion rates
- 10% better attainment of sales team quota
- 8% better marketing lead acceptance rate
Source: Aberdeen Group, 2016
Improving Customer Experience
Customer engagement is critical for a vendor’s revenue growth and ROI. A well-designed channel partner portal procures the power of aggregated data to proactively manage the customer’s behavior and drive up sales.
A vendor’s portal should be a data-centric collaboration and communication hub that provides partners with clear and understandable aggregated data. These metrics not only shed light on customer behavior but they also provide information on customers’ journey towards product adoption. The vendor can then use this data to manipulate customer behavior by providing partners via their channel partner portal with the marketing tools that promote customer engagement, retention, and loyalty.
90% of executives worldwide who use data analytics noticed it improved their ability to deliver a superior customer experience.
Source: Forbes Insights, 2016
To enhance the customer experience, data points can help in originating a solution or improving customer segmentation, mapping customer journey, and discovering team members or partners that are suitable to handle a specific customer group. Ultimately, the data can be used as a guideline for creating a personalized customer service.
Other ways data can help improve customer experience:
- Identifying customer pain points and developing a solution
- Predicting what customers want before they ask
- Solving problems more efficiently
- Decreasing response time to customer issues
An effective way for a vendor to cut down on reoccurring costs is to invest in a robust channel partner portal software. Data provides intelligence that can reduce costs and improve the efficiency of operations. A data-driven portal delivers greater visibility into sales channels and pipelines to optimize the productivity of vendors’ sales and customer service teams.
Analyzing the data submitted through a vendor’s portal can be ultimately cost-effective through greater visibility into:
- The impact of vendor’s channel programs
- Channel partners sales performance
- Marketing strategies and campaigns effectiveness
- Employee productivity
- Real-time data that alerts the vendor about any cost or budget-related mishaps
- Amount of time spent on data entry and manipulation.