Best Channel Partner Performance Metrics to Monitor

By: Ellen Linkenhoker
person shaking a magic 8 ball
Measuring the performance of your channel partners can feel a little like looking into a crystal ball.

“How well are my partners doing?”

Shake. Shake. Shake. “Ask Again Later.”

This feeling is usually due to lack of data and information. Or, as I’ve noticed in some cases recently, you may HAVE the data, but it’s just not easy to work with.

What You Measure Depends on What Makes Sense for You & Your Partners

Generally, you’ll want to select some KPIs within each category to get a good picture of what’s going on with partners. This can change based on your program sophistication level, how long your network has been in place, data collection capabilities, analysts you may (or may not) have on your team, systems (or not) in place to capture details, etc.
There are no right or wrong answers. It should always depend on what makes sense for you and your partners.
Let’s look at some performance metrics that can be measured, monitored and optimized in order to help you achieve your core business goals. I’ll throw in some thoughts about simplifying your data picture at the end too.

Enablement Engagement Metrics

These should help you understand if your program elements are being used and bringing value, and general engagement with your program materials and systems.

  • Targeted/Enrolled Ratio
  • Portal Logins (by whatever cadence is appropriate, usually monthly)
  • Events Attended (virtual/in-person)
  • Sales/Marketing Collateral Materials Sent/Used/Downloaded (this may make more sense for certain role types over others)
  • Training Engagement/Certifications Attained
  • To-Partner Communication Measures (sends, opens, clicks, etc.)
  • Core Brand Training Pieces (think pieces you want everyone to know about)
  • Use of MDF/Other Marketing Efforts

Sales & Earnings Metrics

Sales analytics improves performance by revealing the strengths and weaknesses of your channel network and allows channel account managers to have stronger conversations and forecast better. These analytics help track progress toward goals, prepare for future growth, adjust sales compensation, award incentives and bonuses, and identify any strategic issues. Below are some of the most important metrics you could monitor.
  • Partner Profitability
  • Average Deal Size
  • Product/Solution Breakdown (portfolio adoption measure)
  • Competitor Affinity (usually a third party data point)
  • Velocity
  • Participation in Incentives/Contests/Sweeps
  • Redemption of Earned Points/Payouts
  • Goal Attainment
  • Retention

Pipeline Activity Metrics

Gauge the health of your pipeline activity with these metrics. They help you understand what’s working and what’s not regarding your holistic sales process. To better understand the data, you must measure the following metrics by a specific time frame, such as a month or quarter. You’ll also want to look at the metrics by team and by individual.
  • Pipeline Value (within certain timeframes, usually measured by deal registration, applications, requests for quote, etc.)
  • Opportunities per Partner
  • Number of Partners With Active Pipeline
  • Support Requests (SME, engineer, technician, underwriting, etc.)
  • Lead Generation (not a great measure, but it’s sometimes all you have for early measures)

Customer Success

As the level of complexity of purchasing, deploying, and servicing products rises, it has become even more essential to ensure your partner network is fully trained on your products and/or services. At the end of the day, it is the quality of engagement between your channel and their end-users that drives customer satisfaction. It follows that measuring end-user satisfaction on a regular basis is critical to understanding where you need to invest to overcome partner skills gaps and grow your channel’s strengths. Here are other metrics to consider as well.
  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Implementation Satisfaction
  • Velocity of Onboarding/Service/Usage Metrics
  • Channel Churn
  • Consumption
  • Portfolio Adoption (cross-sell, upsell)

Partner & Experience KPIs

These are the performance measures on the partners themselves and their experience with your channel program. The partner experience is quickly becoming a differentiation point for channel programs and can have a heavy impact on being the vendor of choice. These types of performance metrics will also help you gauge your partner coverage. Check out a few of these.
  • Active/Inactive Partners
  • Capability (specialization, certifications, etc.)
  • Ideal Profile Characteristics (marketing role, customer success role, admin, ecommerce, certain hours, response times, live chat, etc.; whatever you have found is a compelling characteristic to identify ideal partners by segment)
  • Book of Business/Annual Revenue Capability (depicts customer share and opportunity)
  • Survey Responses (openness to working with you, feedback on program elements, estimated spend, etc.)
  • Required Task Completion
BOOM! Now you have some KPIs to get you started with performance measurement metrics, choose your measures wisely! If you aren’t sure, ask an expert or drop us a line below.

Other Considerations: Slicing, Dicing & Uniform Scoring

You will likely be led to other questions after seeing some of these KPIs. I’d recommend having a set of profile data points, so you can slice and dice appropriately. It may also become important to combine like-type partners or peer sets so you can have a better gauge on what “good” is. You can’t compare the best to the worst or the middle to the rising star, so it becomes important to create uniform scoring or segments. Here are a few ways you may want to slice and dice your metrics:
  • Peer Sets
  • Geographies
  • Solution/Product Segments
  • Tenure With Brand
  • Partner Size (staff, annual revenue, sales with you)
  • Partner Types
  • Field Manager/CAM/CSM/PSM/RSM(whatever you call it, you may want to see if their appointed relationship manager is influencing performance)
On to the next thing—making your data work FOR YOU (like a boss).

Dashboards, Data Visualization & Data Aggregation

So you’re telling me you have data and can’t get accurate, accessible-at-any-moment reporting on your performance metrics?
You need dashboards—STAT!
If you have dashboards and are still struggling, then it sounds like it’s time to re-evaluate what’s on them and rework the way data is shown or measured.
Related: Check out these suggestions for types of data visualization.
Here are some suggestions to begin using dashboards:

1. Know where your data is coming from and how often

  • Do you need data from different sources?
  • Do you have access to all sources?

2. Know what audiences need to have eyes on data

  • What questions does each group usually have?
  • Are dashboards personalized and relevant to the user? All the people listed below have different needs, which means a one-and-done dashboard won’t cut it.
    • Executives
    • Channel Leaders
    • Program Admins
    • Channel Marketers
    • Channel Account Managers
    • Large Partners/Distributors/Aggregators
    • Partner Owners
    • Partner Reps

3. Update data as frequently as is reasonable (real-time updates are ideal)

4. Add third-party data when you can (think profile elements)

5. Don’t be afraid to change dashboards or update to match corporate goals

6. Add insights or suggested actions

7. Train people to use them (even if the dashboards seem straightforward)

8. Remind and incent people to use them

Sharing Personalized KPIs Can Improve Channel Performance

There is real power behind putting personalized metrics and goals in a visual format for your many audiences. We’ve personally seen how it can lead to KPI improvement and help businesses exceed their corporate goals. See for yourself how role-relevant goals and data visualization helped sales professionals monitor their progress and achieve their yearly benchmark.
Ellen Linkenhoker
Ellen Linkenhoker

Ellen Linkenhoker is the Channel Partner Solutions Lead for ITA Group. She drives the insights, strategy and evolution of the organization’s channel solution while offering advisement for client engagement and incentive programs. She’s worked as a practitioner in technology, software and service companies as part of the channel and as a vendor. She is an award-winning marketer and navigates all things channel, marketing, incentives and engagement, including pioneering thought leadership on channel partner ecosystems and the partner experience.