We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. View our Privacy Policy.

Business Planning Tools Are Key to Success with Channel Partners

Collaborating on defining and agreeing to the business / account plan is the groundwork for a solid base of trust and sense of joint accountability for the coming period

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Business Planning Tools Are Key to Success with Channel Partners

Part 2

By Simon Taylor, Relayware Director, Pre-Sales

Earlier this year, I wrote “The Partner Account Plan: The Critical Launch Pad to Sky High Partner Performance,” and now, part way through Q2, it’s time to reflect on the progress. Look back on Q1 and also ask, “Will my channel partners achieve their targets for Q2?”

As I previously mentioned, collaborating on defining and agreeing to the business / account plan is the groundwork for a solid base of trust and sense of joint accountability for the coming period.

The process of goal agreement should include listening to your partners and striving to understand:

  1. Their challenges
  2. What best enables sales for them
  3. What hinders a sale


Make sure you have these foundational questions answered:

  1. Did you and your channel partners agree on targets?
  2. How do you monitor and measure that progress?
  3. Are you using account / business plans to manage your key channel partners


If you answer to any of these questions was no, then you are missing an opportunity to achieve greater channel performance and thus real revenue growth.

The business-partner planning cycle can be as simple as a spreadsheet or word document, or as complex as a detailed tracked plan in your PRM system that is synced with your CRM system. Regardless, the devil is always in the details and those details are often different from our first impression.

1. Visualize: Describe what you are doing and why it should work for both the partner and the vendor. How does it fit your individual strategic and tactical initiatives? How does it align with your vision and customer points of view?

A clear image of planned results is needed. This is true, whether it is a simple lead generation campaign or a comprehensive business plan. How can you succeed if you can’t define the precise mission?

2. Goals and Expectations: Set your mutual expectations from the plan. What are the measurable objectives and what information systems can be used for the measurements? How are the increments — from starting point to goal — evaluated?

This is all about the numbers. A plan for an integrated e-mail marketing and outbound calling campaign, for instance, should define the size of the original list and the anticipated number of responses. Since there is often uncertainty about the definition of a qualified lead, this is a good place to define it.

3. Organize: Define the resources that will be assigned to accomplish the objectives. Are the resources available? What skills and processes will be required? Who is responsible for which activities and their costs? What are the risks associated with the plan? Are there contingencies defined that allow for the changes that will occur?

Inevitably, some of the planned resources become unavailable or perhaps the cost is more than anticipated. Instead of scrambling for Plan B, spend time determining if similar results could be accomplished with different resources. A chain of command is essential in this phase.

4. Educate: Supply the information necessary for successful completion of the plan. What sales collateral, playbooks, technical training, sales training and/or operational training are required? When and how will they be disseminated? How is commitment gained from those who will carry out the plan?

The leading reason why projects fail is that not everyone involved has access to all the information necessary to complete their assignments. Just taking the time to distribute information can go a long way toward reinforcing an initiative.

5. Execute: Document the individual tasks to move forward to the goal.

How do you interact with each other and your customers? What and when are the periodic feedback loops required to remain on track, and to make midcourse corrections?

Managers often describe this strategy as “blocking and tackling.” If you have successfully accomplished the other four phases in the planning process, this phase becomes much simpler.

There can be successful partnerships without the level of planning outlined here. However, it is usually either: the result of a long and close working relationship between vendor and partner that has smoothed all the sharp edges from the process; or it is purely accidental and often non-repeatable success lacking any real innovation.

For more information, please download the Relayware Quick Guide to Business Planning here.