If you’re only looking at the top revenue producing partners, you’re missing the value of your ecosystem. Sure, the partners that drive large portions of your business are important, but they’re not the only ones.
You may be missing the rising stars and creating an overly concentrated top. You could find yourself in a bind when one of them shifts to the competition. The goal should be to create a broad and stable sales engine. A comprehensive scoring system and a standardized dashboard will help accomplish this.
Ideally, you’re also scoring your partners to gain a competitive advantage. We believe in measuring partners on five qualities (coverage, contribution, commitment, capability, and consumption). Regardless of how you’re evaluating your partners, it’s essential to provide the field with a consistent view against a defined set of metrics. If the only data you provide is on revenue though, you’re asking your field to solve a three-dimensional problem with a one-dimensional tool.
Give your field the data they need to be effective
Putting a standard dashboard in the hands of your field is like handing a smartphone to the team that put a man on the moon using a slide rule. It accelerates the work, makes it more accurate, and increases the efficacy of the entire project. Here are 4 specific advantages you gain.
1. Create predictability for your partners
Consistency is key here. Account managers will be able to conduct year-over-year conversations using actual data, not guesses and recollection. The partner will know what to expect and the field will have a consistent structure to evaluate their entire portfolio against. Business planning conversations will simply run smoother. Both internally and externally.
Dashboards add an element of stability for your partners too. With ever-evolving technology and company strategies, consistency can be hard to find. It can be difficult for partners to understand what you want from them. This confusion can decrease a partner’s impact on the end goals. Even if they’re great at selling (revenue generation) they may not be aligned to the strategic products you’re pushing (margin and market share). Adding non-revenue based metrics helps clarify your goals and deliver results.
2. Identify the up and comers
Up and comers aren’t necessarily going to have the best revenue generation (by definition). But finding these rising stars is critical to growing your market share and protecting against inevitable partner shifts. Identifying those partners’ that are growing and changing year-over-year is a huge advantage. Start looking at what markets a partner sells in, what type of trainings they get, how many active sales reps they have, and any number of other non-revenue based metrics. Find a set of conditions that can identify the partners of tomorrow. They could provide an important foothold towards attaining your long term goals.
3. Find the pillars of your ecosystem
These may not be partners growing by leaps and bounds, but they form the foundation of your market share. They maintain your presence or regularly adopt your new strategic offerings. A partner that doesn’t have huge revenue growth, but excels in selling the products that matter and is consistently learning new skills shouldn’t be discounted. These are the partners that are predictable and loyal to your company. Lose them and the sand shifts beneath your feet. Invest in them and you have bedrock to build on.
4. Pinpoint potential problem areas
The partner landscape is continuously changing. Companies come and go over the years. The trick is to spot and identify the telltale signs. A partner that has strong revenue growth may be great, but if all their doing is selling aging products what will happen over time? Are they ready to shift with you? What about the partner that’s selling to the same customers over and over again? Are they worth an MDF and head count investment?
Problems like these can easily be recognized with a consistent dashboard that shows quarterly and yearly trends. When armed with the right information, account managers can help partners take corrective actions. If that doesn’t work, providing concrete data to the field can help them realize it’s time to change the relationship with a partner. A small shift in investments can have a big impact on results.
I’m not saying revenue generation doesn’t matter. It does. But it’s not everything when it comes to measuring and evaluating your partners. Just focusing on a singular aspect blinds you to other opportunities that can grow your company.
Information is power, and if you’re not delivering these insights to the field, you’re not nearly as effective as you can be.