Indirect sales are noteworthy revenue drivers for most global businesses. In fact, 96% of B2B leaders expect to attribute revenue increases directly to their channel partner ecosystems. But even though these channel partnerships are extremely valuable, managing them can be complex — and costly — without the right insights.
Since channel partners operate separately from the organization, account managers and channel teams typically have limited visibility into each partner’s performance and other critical data points they need to inform channel sales strategies.
Rather than making decisions based solely on past performance or their gut instincts, channel teams need access to in-depth data related to partner performance, customer behavior, market opportunities, and more.
Channel data management puts relevant data from channel partners in the hands of channel teams and other sales leaders, enabling them to make informed decisions about their channel sales program.
In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of channel data management, the pain points it alleviates, and the types of revenue-driven opportunities it uncovers for scaling enterprises.
What is Channel Data Management?
Channel data management (CDM) is a practice channel teams use to collect and analyze partner data, measure partner performance, and identify partnership opportunities.
At a high level, CDM includes all types of distributor sales data, from detailed performance reports to multi-year opportunity mapping projections that enable channel sales leaders to make informed decisions and strategic investments in and about their most profitable partners.
Your organization should analyze multiple quantitative and qualitative channel data points, including those related to:
- Accounts & Customers
- Skills & Certifications
- Incentive Programs
- Sales Enablement
- Through-Channel Marketing
Effective channel data management gives your organization end-to-end visibility into its channel program and a single source of truth to reference regarding past and future partner-driven initiatives.
All of the data you gather will help your channel teams:
- Understand your partners and how to interact with them
- Measure partner performance and identify your most valuable partners
- Determine partner eligibility for and access to various enablement resources
- Segment partners by capabilities, sales capacity, market share, and more
- Learn how best to support and grow partner relationships
Your channel teams can use these insights to identify relevant upsell and cross-sell opportunities, streamline marketing efforts, improve channel sales efficiency, and increase the ROI of your partner program as a whole. But only if they have access to meaningful, timely data.
Why is Channel Data Management Important?
Indirect channel sales are a valuable source of revenue for many organizations, especially as they look to accelerate growth, penetrate new markets and segments, or promote specific products.
The right channel partners have the potential to grow your top line and target profitable accounts across territories, all while providing your customers with high-value products and services.
With so much riding on the success of these strategic partnerships, it’s surprising to learn that channel teams traditionally manage them using subjective insights from partners and account managers.
Even when data enters the picture, it’s usually sourced directly from channel partners — and collecting it is considered a relatively low priority compared to closing deals. Channel account managers spend much of their time manually collecting partner data while managing lead assignments and deal progressions across their partner network.
As a result, organizations receive channel data on a monthly or quarterly basis instead of a daily or weekly one, leaving them to make critical decisions using outdated, sometimes incomplete information.
To effectively manage complex, global partner networks and maximize the ROI of their partner programs, organizations need in-depth visibility into indirect sales performance and timely insights to guide their partnership decisions.
Channel data management drastically improves visibility and decision-making within your channel partner strategy by helping your organization:
- Access accurate partner data in a timely manner
- Keep pace with rapidly changing sales environments
- Align partner programs with customers’ ever-evolving needs
- Identify cross-sell, upsell, and new sales opportunities at the partner and account level
Using Channel Data Management to Improve Partner-Led Sales
The insights your channel teams gather through CDM don’t just allow you to continue investing in your most profitable partners; they also uncover unique opportunities to accelerate growth and maximize the impact of your partner program over time. Here are some ways your organization can use CDM to improve its channel partner program:
Tap into Hidden Growth Potential
Rather than focusing solely on the partners generating the most revenue, use comprehensive channel data to evaluate your entire network and look for less apparent avenues to accelerate growth.
For example, you might find high-value opportunities outside your top performers — like a reseller with extensive experience selling to a particular customer segment or recent success in promoting a specific product. With a complete picture of your partner program, your channel teams can capitalize on opportunities they might otherwise have missed.
Increase the Impact of Incentive Programs
Don’t just measure your partners’ high-level sales performance. Go one step further and analyze how well your sales incentive programs perform across your network. Channel data can help you answer questions like:
- Which programs are performing best?
- With which partners are they most successful?
- Which territories or customer segments are most receptive to them?
You can use these insights to refine your incentive programs or roll them out to additional partners with a high probability of success. This exercise is especially helpful in emerging markets where you have limited visibility into sales potential or customer behaviors.
Improve Product Development & Future Promotions
A CDM program gives you valuable insights about your channel partners and can also help you learn more about your end customers. Take a deep dive into consumers’ buying habits — such as which products they purchase most frequently or most commonly purchase together — and use your findings to inform future plans.
For example, you could create a promotion that allows partners to bundle complementary products together. Or, you can add new capabilities to your product development plans based on the add-on features your partners’ customers purchase most often.
Identify New Channel Partners
Channel data management isn’t just about accelerating growth through your current partners; it’s also about how your channel teams use data to expand your partner network strategically.
Along with identifying opportunities amongst your existing partners, tap into external databases to curate a list of best-fit partners for your organization.
Be sure to align your search parameters with the top priorities of your channel program, whether you want to penetrate a specific market, promote a certain product, or simply increase sales across all territories and product lines.
Streamline Channel Data Management With Partner Sonar
Your organization will likely use several technologies to aggregate, analyze, and manage channel data, especially if you operate in complex sales environments or across multiple geographies.
One of the most critical solutions in your CDM tech stack is the one your organization uses to identify and grow the right partners.
Partner Sonar, Coro’s proprietary solution for channel management and optimization, gives you access to the largest global partner database on the market, with over 420,000 partners and $130B in channel partner resell activity.
Leverage Partner Sonar’s advanced analytics tools to identify, curate, and grow the right channel partners — all through a scalable, user-friendly discovery and assessment software that provides you with a clear picture of partner availability. Your organization can use Partner Sonar to:
- Grow your channel program
- Optimize marketing spend
- Plan and execute product launches
- Compare channel partner relationships to competitors
See how one tech vendor used Partner Sonar to maximize the value of its current partners and identify new partners to sell next-gen products, resulting in a 43% increase in global channel sales.