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Channel Matters Blog > March 2013 > Partner Plan Research Results

Partner Plan Research Results

by Geoff Wright
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Last month I challenged each of you to complete a brief 'self-audit' on your partner planning efforts. You might recall I challenged to you answer a set of key questions about partner planning process, consistency, scope and outcomes, and the impact of this on partner trust. Many thanks to those of you completed this as an on-line survey; we can gain some real insight from the survey results.

As a reminder – the questions were
  1. Does your organization have a structured and consistent planning process in place? Is it being used consistently?
  2. Does the planning process allow for different partner types and sizes?
  3. In 2012 what percentage of partnerships had a plan that was:
    • Created in true collaboration with the partner
    • Contained goals apart from revenue
    • Centered on the partner's needs and goals as much as your organization's
    • Was concise, clear and reviewed with the partner quarterly
    • Was signed off by senior executives in each organization?
  4. Would your partners say they have a high level of trust in your organization and people?
In general two groups of people answered this survey - people who answered that their organization DOES have a consistent partner planning process in place, and those who answered it DOES NOT. The DOES NOT group were only asked one other question. "Would your partners say they have a high level of trust in your organization and people?"
These graphs compare the answers to question four
A quick glance shows quite dramatic differences in the level of partner trust between organizations that do, or do not, have a structured and consistent planning process in place. Why is this important? Because we know that the level of reseller trust is strongly linked to reseller revenue (see last month's article here)

Now let's dig a little deeper into the survey results. For those companies that said they did have a have a structured and consistent planning process we find that more than 80% of them say it is being used consistently and that it caters for partners of different size and type. Good news!

Partner commitment

However, partner planning execution problems began to emerge when we asked about the percentage of partnerships in which plans were created in true collaboration with the partner.

collaborationHere we see that a significant number of plans don't have a high degree of partner involvement in their creation. What we know is that the degree of partner involvement directly affects the level of partner ownership of the plan – and their commitment to execute it. There is no point having a great partner plan that no one is willing to execute.

One partner executive I spoke to summed it up this way. "When I was asked by the vendor why we didn't achieve our plan, I told him it was because it wasn't our plan – it was only yours!"

Three other strategic issues emerge from the data:

Goal alignment

goalsThis graph indicates that a sizeable number of partner plans don't really include goals that also focus on what partners are trying to achieve in their business.

Highly successful partnerships are built around mutually aligned goals that are focused on both partners achieving success – as they define it.


Regular review

reviewRegular review is another characteristic of partner plans that get executed and produce superior business results. The research data indicates a worrying number of plans that are not regularly reviewed.

When the financial year draws to a close it's too late to do anything about a partnership whose revenue performance falls below plan – disappointing both parties and undermining the future relationship. Regular review and proactive action on problems and opportunities is essential for high levels of success.

Executive support

execreviewThe final strategic issue we'll look at here is the degree to which partner plans are reviewed and signed off by senior executives in each organization.

While these results are a little more encouraging than some of the other data there are still a significant number of plans created with little or no executive involvement or commitment.

When combined with above data about partner commitment and goal alignment, this tends to indicate that plans are submitted by channel sales people because their managers demand that they do partner planning. It is likely that channel sales people are entering plans into the PRM as a compliance exercise; trying to get a tick in the planning box that is part of their quarterly or annual bonus assessment rather than doing any real and meaningful joint planning with partners.


Perhaps the most concerning thing about these results – is that we could have predicted them before we even asked the questions; so could many Channel Executives who are struggling to improve the level and quality of partner plans.
There are organizations that do this really well. World class sales organizations understand that it is the planning process that really drives results – not the plan template or PRM. If plans are created in a step-by-step process by channel sales people who have the skills to engage partners at senior levels to talk about their business goals and expected returns – if planning involves the partner at each stage of the process – if plans are clear and concise and are regularly reviewed – they have a much higher chance of producing positive results.

We say great plans can lead to great results – but even a 'pretty good plan' can lead to great business results if it is built around win-win outcomes and has a high degree of vendor/partner commitment to execute. That's what our Effective partner planning process is all about!


Last modified on 6/30/2013 10:11:26 PM
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