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How to increase predictability in the channel

7 min read By April 20, 2022 No Comments

Data, it’s one of the many reasons we love Formula 1.  The use of data to make the car more predictable. When to come in for a pit stop. When to change from wet to dry weather tires. When to break in each corner. These micro-adjustments make all the difference between winning and losing. So how can we apply the way F1 uses data to make the channel more predictable?

In the channel, we’re in dire need of more data about our partners. What do we know? Revenue, whether a partner is certified and what status they have, location, size at a push. It’s not much to go on. What if we looked outside our own field, towards a specialism that knows everything about its partnerships: Customer Success.

Healthy partners = happy partners

F1 drivers are constantly monitored while in the car. Their heartbeat and breathing are good indicators of their stress levels and fatigue. Customer success teams use similar metrics or health scores to determine the status of their customers. Healthy, or at risk.

Depending on the score, the teams can see whether a customer is likely to grow, renew, remain, or churn. And the same can be done by partner success teams. Below, for example, are some indicators your partners are at risk of churning and what you can do to keep them locked and loaded.

Churn indicator

One big indicator that a partner is about to churn is when they are rejecting your campaigns or content. So what do you do?

The most important thing is to start the conversation. Ask them, is it the content itself? The quality of the campaign? The language? The offer? Is the product misaligned with their vertical? Or is something else up? Make sure to check whether they are rejecting all vendor campaigns, or just yours.

Maybe they are looking for expansion opportunities. Perhaps they want to increase their ranking or their status. Dialogue is crucial because the more engaged your partners are, the healthier their score, and the more you can help each other in the long run.

Healthy partners = active partners

At Channext we measure how healthy your partners are through various metrics. One of which is the activity score, complete with leaderboard rankings. The activity score measures the interactions a partner has with their vendor. Such as how many campaigns are published or rejected, and how often a partner gives feedback about campaigns or adds their own personal touch to outgoing social posts.

We call these impact metrics. On the left, you’ll see typical input (or vanity) metrics. Those commonly used by vendors to measure the success of a partner program. On the right are metrics that will actually give you feedback and form a great base to start the conversation with your partners.

This image shows the difference between input metrics and impact metrics

Forget vanity metrics

Remember when Nikita Mazepin demanded Haas get him a new chassis midway through the season? And did it work out for him? Although he reported being slightly faster after the switch, the driver ultimately ended 2 places behind his teammate Mick Schumacher in the 2021 season.

Some say it was a vanity move. It’s like basing your data on portal logins. It says so little about how a partner sees you. And it’s definitely no foundation to change your partner program.

Predictability

This is where a predictable partner overview comes in. Who is going to give the most value to their end-users in the long run and drive predictable revenue growth for you? How do you identify strong partnerships?

Like Jay McBain of Forrester describes in his blogpost the gold, silver, bronze partnership story is outdated. We will see many companies move away from this model, replaced by a new partnership scoring model.

Recognizing strong partners

How do you recognize strong partnerships? The first point is, naturally, sales. Higher volumes mean better-performing partners. But there is more to consider. Can you count on your partners to be influencers? Do they talk about you to peers and end-users? Are they investing their time in your brand, i.e., how many trained employees do they have?

While a lot of this is happening in the dark funnel, there are ways to measure strong partnerships.

Scoring strong partnerships

You need scores to measure. In addition to measuring how active your partners are. You want to measure how connected they are to your brand.

  • Have they connected their social media accounts – both business-owned and private?
  • Do they have a landing page dedicated to your brand and product portfolio?
  • Are they showing your logo or partnership status on their homepage?
  • Do they have multiple brand ambassadors within their company?

Each of these elements deserves a specific score. And based on these scores it’s easy to rank partnerships, showing which ones are healthy, and which ones need some extra effort from both sides. It’s a great starting point for the conversations you want your partner account managers to be having with your partners.

Feedback between partner and the team

Without constant communication between the team principal, lead engineer, and driver, races would look nothing like they do today. The team is constantly in communication with each other. The driver provides feedback about how the track and car feel, the lead engineer is constantly monitoring the car’s performance, and the principal sees what other drivers are doing and makes decisions based on rank – even if they are sometimes ignored by the drivers.

You need to do the same between your head of channel, partner account managers, and partners. Constant feedback means constant iteration of your partner program and marketing campaigns. And strengthening of your entire team.

NPS feedback

NPS feedback is a great way to measure how partners feel about you and your campaigns. This monthly survey is easy to enter and easy to read. It’s a great basis from which to find holes in your campaigns and partner program.

Get to know more about how Channext measures Partner Performance in our post ‘How to identify strong partnerships’.

Luck and gut feeling vs data

We’ve seen in this article that you need as much data as possible to win. Revenue attribution is necessary to help you make choices. But you can’t predict everything. Drivers spend years and years on the tracks, getting to know every twist and turn, knowing when it’s about to rain, or sensing when one of their rivals is about to crash.

Would Verstappen have won the 2021 world title without the Latifi crash? We’ll never know. What we do know is that having as much data as possible and being agile will help you win. Thanks to the data they had, Red Bull immediately went for a pitstop upon Latifi’s crash, giving Verstappen room to shoot in front of Hamilton and nab the title.

Combining data and feedback

The same goes for the channel. Data will help you predict whether your partners are healthy or at risk, and whether they are looking to grow or could possibly churn. Even stronger, data combined with feedback will help you start the conversation with your partners, and build even stronger partnerships.

In short, you need data to react quickly. But there’s no such thing as 100% predictability.

Recap

Over the past 5 posts, we’ve used Formula 1 analogies to discuss how to create a scalable, predictable partner program by:

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