Q1 is over. How did your channel do?

By now your Finance team should be tallying up the orders, and the Sales teams have taken a well-deserved (but short) rest after a final push at the end of Q1.  Now the reconciling takes place.  Who made their quarterly number, and who didn’t?  It’s easy to measure the performance of your inside or field sales team against goals.  But are you doing the same thing when it comes to your channel? 

Some companies shy away from measuring the performance of their channels, assuming that the different dynamics don't lend themselves to the similar analytical rigor.  I disagree.  Since your company is making an investment in a channel and programs to support it, you should set up measurements from day one.  Companies that sell through multiple channels (i.e. resellers, online, MSPs, etc.) can measure which channels are the most effective and which partners in each channel segment performed the best.

Remember, you can’t improve your channel’s performance (or that of anything) if you don’t measure it.  The question is “What should you measure?”  I prefer to measure both the outputs (such as Revenues) and the Inputs (Returns On program Investments). But don’t track a metric if it doesn’t lead to data and behavior changes that help you improve your performance. At the very least, you should be tracking the revenues of ramped partners against revenue targets (and categorizing them as Over-performing or Under-performing). This will allow you to assign resources and build action plans.

Don’t get fooled into making decisions on only one data point.  Measure data over time to get a true indication of your partners and program performance and trends.

 How you measure your channel is important.  But remember, how a vendor measures the effectiveness of a channel partner probably differs from how a channel partner measures the effectiveness of a vendor relationship.  Bridge this disconnect and your likelihood of success increases.  Be explicit about the standards to which you hold your partners.  Performance measurement should be a part of the partner planning process that you do with each of your partners.

 As a Sales team, we measure our own performance on a regular basis.  Don’t be afraid to do the same thing with your channel.  And don’t worry - they are also evaluating the profitability of their vendor relationships on a frequent basis.