• What are the essential channel functions and responsibilities for planning and execution in a B2B organization?
  • The SiriusDecisions Channel Program Model is designed to help companies decode and optimize their channel programs
  • The model is used to manage the interlocked activities supporting channel initiatives within five stages

What’s your channel program’s DNA? What are the key processes that your organization needs to put in place for successful partnerships, and which channel functions and responsibilities are essential for planning and execution?

These are tricky questions for many channel leaders to speak to with confidence, especially given the haphazard way that channel programs are often bolted together. Furthermore, transforming a channel program (for example, when entering new markets or as a result of an acquisition) often leads to unexpected results.

If you’re becoming increasingly concerned about the state of your channel program, it’s time to breathe easier. According to SiriusDecisions’ Laz Gonzalez and Maria Chien, a major evolution is about to occur. Laz and Maria took to the stage at Summit 2015 in Nashville armed with the SiriusDecisions Channel Program Model, a blueprint designed to help companies decode and optimize their channel programs.

“Fasten your seatbelts,” Laz instructed the packed room of Summit attendees. “For the first time ever, we are presenting an end-to-end channel program model.”

Together, Laz and Maria broke down the DNA of a successful channel marketing program, analyzing the functional roles – channel sales, channel marketing and channel operations – and the processes and organizational interlock needed to support partners within the program.

At the heart of the Channel Program Model are five helix-shaped stages that outline 67 defined processes for the three key functional channel roles to put in place during each stage of channel program development. These stages and processes pinpoint how sales, marketing and operations roles fit together to support successful channel relationships. The model is then used to manage the interlocked activities supporting channel initiatives within the five stages – here’s a quick look at each stage:

  • Planning stage. This stage includes planning processes for each channel function and the sequence each must follow to drive program effectiveness. While channel sales takes ownership for setting the revenue goals and describing key program requirements that should be met in order to reach them, channel marketing completes steps to engage with product teams, develop insights into partner types and plan marketing’s contribution to pipeline goals. Channel operations is responsible during this stage for developing planning processes and tools and determining infrastructure requirements.
  • Recruitment stage. This stage delineates the responsibilities of each function for identifying and acquiring new partners. Before recruiting new partners, channel sales must complete steps to establish recruitment goals, partner profiles and recruitment processes. Meanwhile, channel marketing creates and executes processes to attract partners, and channel operations collects partner data, tracks recruitment processes and manages the operational aspects of partner agreements.
  • Enablement stage. This stage details processes that ensure channel readiness and productivity. For channel sales, this stage includes steps for both internal and external training to help channel development managers and partners reach their objectives. Channel marketing focuses on teaching partners what type of demand to create for a supplier’s solutions, ensuring they understand how to position both products and services and can effectively use supplier-generated marketing tactics. Channel operations completes steps to define the extent and managing the delivery of training to partners.
  • Demand creation stage. This stage details the steps that each channel function must take maximize the engagement of partners in lead generation activities. Channel sales works with channel marketing to ensure that it selects the right set of partners to engage in demand programs based on sales goals. Meanwhile, channel marketing completes activities to drive awareness with partners and generate leads through partners, and channel operations is responsible for supporting key demand processes, incentives and analytics platforms.
  • Transact and report stage. This stage details the steps that must be completed by each function to establish a booking process, opportunity reporting and sell-in/sell-through reporting. While channel sales leverages its access to partner pipeline and forecast information, channel marketing tracks and analyzes partner engagement metrics in order to predict and improve performance. Channel operations creates processes for booking, billing, renewal, e-commerce processes, and reporting on sell-through data.

After conducting their tour of the new Channel Program Model, Laz and Maria then narrated a sample scenario, showing how the model can be used to respond in an aligned and coordinated manner to changes in strategy or circumstances – in this case using the example of pivoting from on-premise to cloud channel partnerships.

Laz emphasized that the Channel Program Model is a flexible tool that can be adapted to the needs of each organization. Although the model includes a complete set of channel processes, how they are implemented and prioritized will vary depending on each organization’s circumstances and opportunities.