1. Are we regularly tracking and benchmarking our channel? 

Never before has there been such an abundance of readily accessible market data on your channel partners and yet paradoxically, that same volume of data has made it even more challenging to profile and benchmark your channel community. In parallel, there are now plethora ways to get your product/service to market through an ever-broadening channel. There are probably some star performers already in your channel who are not on your radar and there are probably some under-performing partners you persist in working with (and spending MDF $s on!) because you always have. The very best performing channel leaders are leveraging rich data to identify and engage the best partners and channel segments, whose business models are fit for the next few years of channel growth. N.B. We are not talking about solely mining Sold-Out data but layering independent, large-scale business data (company growth trajectory, financial business model, business performance, strength of the board, ability to successfully execute digital campaigns, strategic fit with complementary vendors, etc..) to give you insight into the business profile, not their historic spend activity.

2. Have we mapped our channel around our end-user audience?

Always start with the end in mind. Who are your ideal end-user customers, how do they buy/consume technology, who do they consult for advice, which sectors/geographies are they in, what technologies are you looking to replace/displace/complement/integrate, what level of sector specialisation do you need to serve their needs? Well-structured channel programmes take into account the buying and consumption models of all end-user customer segments then seeks to align its channel coverage accordingly.

3. Have we segmented our channel (again and again and again)?

Once you have defined the end-user customer segments you will understand the what you need from various clusters of channel partner. Segment your existing channel into ‘pots’ to show which partners have the skills, resources, processes and above all passion to deliver. You need to make some tough decisions, not all of your existing channel will be fit for purpose (even the big ones!). You will undoubtedly have some end-user customer segments which are under-served by your existing channel so this will no doubt need some parallel channel recruitment activity – make sure this is data-driven and aligned to those end-user consumption/engagement model (and see Q5).

4. Are (all) of our B2B channel marketing campaigns programmatic?

Why is it that in the B2C world sellers can define their campaigns with very clear metrics, costs and outcomes which are very tightly focussed on the small cohort of prospects most likely to engage/buy/recommend and yet in the B2B world many marketers & sellers are cost/volume obsessed. All too often we hear:

· How much is the day rate?

· How much is the data?

· How many contacts are there?

Cheap is cheap for a reason. B2C marketers don’t buy irrelevant/cheap AdWords as the buying outcome is likely to be poor – so why should B2B focus so much on price/volume? The B2B market must evolve to a more programmatic approach where greater value is placed on better outcomes (especially if it enables the marketer to do more with less by being more focused).

5. Have we already identified, engaged and are we digitally tracking our next cohort of stellar partners?

Get on an early front foot with your channel recruitment. To get the best human capital you tap into the passive market (the best people are already employed for a reason!) and the same is true of the very best channel partners. Long-term successful relationship building takes time and there must be a clear ­­­­strategic fit for both parties. Continuous profiling of the best-fit channel partners will enable opportunities to strategically engage at the best time point, not when you­­­ are time-poor and forced into making sub-optimal relationships.

To learn more about IQBlade's Data-Driven channel platform visit www.iqblade.com