Channel Chiefs: 4 Ways to Improve Channel Sales Planning
- The supplier’s annual planning cycle drives the opportunity for channel leaders to get commitments on what they need to grow their business in the coming fiscal year
- Internal alignment of budget and resources is necessary for the channel sales team to meet the fiscal targets
- Synchronizing the corporate channel sales plan to partners’ joint business plans ensures that channel investments and execution path are connected
If you’re not making quota, you’re not alone. Data from a recent survey in the SiriusDecisions Command Center® shows that less than 10 percent of channel sales organizations are making 90 percent or more of quota. Why are channel organizations failing? It may start with a bad sales planning process. This cyclical event is driven to define revenue goals, key objectives and priorities that will ultimately be synchronized across the entire organization. The annual fiscal planning process often takes months, and focuses on product, sales and marketing alignment and interlock. But where does the channel fit in? Channel chiefs who have secured a seat at the corporate table increase the likelihood of getting the resources they need, cross-functional commitment to support channel requirements, and access to information that can help them make their number. However, having a seat and using it are two different things. Here are four ways to ensure the channel sales team is set up for success and can get what they need to meet their revenue goals:
- Participate. Depending on the size of the organization and the field structure, there are many ways that channel input may be captured in the corporate plan. Regardless of the format, channel chiefs should proactively engage with sales, marketing and product leadership to ensure that channel requirements are considered as part of these organizational plans. Hoping for alignment after the fact is likely to lead to disappointment. Likewise, these organizations will have their own requirements to discuss with the channel team. Developing and maintaining relationships between the channel sales org and corporate teams can increase ongoing awareness and commitment.
- Bring data. Having the right analysis can drive the right conversation. Objective information can bridge the understanding gap within the corporate organizational structure. Before participating in planning discussions, the channel teams should have completed analysis on overall channel sales performance, channel profitability for the supplier and the partner, channel account manager (CAM) effectiveness, specific partner performance and channel program metrics. Additional analysis may be required to get more granular views based on offer, geography, partner type and other segments. This data can help the channel sales leader look at how effective and efficient the existing channel sales team is, as well as the partners, and identify issues and opportunities for the year to come.
- Partner for success. Ultimately, the channel sales team will need to work through partners to meet their revenue goals. The channel leader’s goals and objectives must be translated into a set of actionable priorities for partners. This should be integrated into the joint planning process with partners so each plan has some level of participation to those priorities. Hoping that the CAMs or partners figure it out on their own is not a good use of time or resources. Likewise, this can become an effective filter for investment decisions.
- Break the planning “event” cycle. Effective planning happens every day, week, month and quarter as an outcome of the channel sales engagement. Putting the right infrastructure in place, like a consistent partner management cadence, an effective data strategy and CAM skills development, will allow the channel team to continuously capture input and opportunities. When managed, this will roll right into the corporate cycle.
Embracing the annual planning cycle can pay dividends for the channel. Having a seat at the table and proactively driving internal and external engagement is the path execution and revenue. For more information on how to optimize your channel sales plan, contact SiriusDecisions.