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.

Channel Partner Account Plans: Collaborative Roadmap or Keepsake?

2016 is close enough to get business plans in shape for your channel partners.

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Channel Partner Account Plans: Collaborative Roadmap or Keepsake?

Many consider business plans a necessary evil; something you put together just to impress VCs. Many in channel management have a similarly low regard for their channel equivalent: channel account plans. They're often thought to be only for a vendor's largest accounts.

However, that’s a mistake. Precisely because your resellers operate outside your direct sphere of influence, you need to make sure your sales goals, strategies and tactics are aligned with your channel partners. And particularly for second-tier partners, who have fewer human resources and marketing muscle, a specific road map has the greatest potential to increase revenue, with clear outlines and schedules of what to do, when, and by whom, and how success will be measured and rewarded.

With Halloween now weeks behind us, it's now close enough to year's end to get these maps and plans in shape for 2016. And if they're to be more than keepsakes, filed and forgotten, these plans should be made in collaboration, reflecting the needs of both parties. A group or one-on-one listening session should precede the plan, to get a good grip on your partners' primary challenges to a sale, strongest enablers, and obstacles.

At a minimum, channel account and marketing plans should include these specifics:

Sales Objectives

  • Revenue goals
  • Volume targets
  • Target accounts/customers

Marketing Activity Specifics

  • Outbound email/calling campaigns
  • Trade shows
  • Advertising, PR, speaking opportunities, award applications


Joint Investment

Action Plan

While the numbers, customers, leads and other specifics will vary with the partner, the bones of your plan can be templated; click here for a multi-page Excel spreadsheet as an example.

Both vendor and channel partner should set down not only what actions to take, but how each activity contributes toward that goal, connecting the dots from customer to partner to product or service. How will a specific case study marketing piece or an email campaign, for example, best be used to attract leads, and from which customer segment? Specify numbers: how big a list will you use for an outbound calling campaign? What response rate is expected? What will the effort cost?

The account plan must lay out roles: who interacts with customers, and when? How do you communicate with each other, and how often do you track progress against the plan? Where is the chain of command, and who can fill in when one critical person is unavailable? What happens when costs exceed budgets?

This is also the place to determine the sales collateral, playbooks technical training sales training and/or operational training that will support your partners, and how they will be created and distributed.

Working the Plan

Getting partner sign off on an account plan is half the battle; staying on page is the other. All activities -- lead-gen campaigns, courses taken, certifications obtained, white papers downloaded -- should be tracked as they happen, both to ensure that a partner is on course and properly equipped, and to recognize all efforts made towards sales goals. Reviews should also be regularly scheduled, with an eye towards midcourse corrections and strategies to advance the current pipeline.

Consider the wide array of activities and resources that make up a partner account plan. Multiply it by the number of partners your channel account managers handle, and it soon becomes clear that you've outgrown a spreadsheets' usefulness in tracking activities, costs, accomplishments and goals. Its cells are too small and its multilayered checklists are too passive. Consider, too, that your plan competes for your partner's time and attention with those of his other vendors.

To keep vendor and channel partner literally on the same page, partner relationship management solutions automate much of the plan creation and execution processes. Embedded within a partner portal, PRM solutions become the online meeting ground where both can trade updates, suggestions, acceptances, guidance, and everyday information. For more information on how partner management software takes off where spreadsheets end, see our white paper "Account Planning Whitepaper: Clarity & Participation Lead to Greater Sales Success."