Channel performance measurement is a key activity when a sales organization employs different types of channel partners. In more complex multi-channel structures, it becomes even more important due to the number of people, processes, and roles involved. The performance of a channel can be measured across multiple dimensions. The parameters that are measured usually are effectiveness, efficiency, productivity, equity and profitability of the channel.
The various channels have different purposes in the value chain; however, each task needs to support the overall corporate goals. As the number of channel partners increases, it is difficult to ensure that the channel partners are performing their specific roles as effectively as required. For example, the goal of a business might be to increase the number of strategic accounts. However, in order to gather maximum possible commission, channel partners might be engaged in getting the maximum number of accounts possible with total disregard towards prioritizing the acquisition of strategic accounts. It is therefore important to audit the channel partners and incentivize them for activities that are aligned with the corporate goals. The channel performance should also be judged on the ability to fulfill given tasks. A few carefully chosen metrics can give a good indication of the performance of each channel.
The channel performance measurement is primarily a four-step process.
- Define the Sales Objectives
- Determine Channel Performance Metrics
- Set Channel Partner Targets
- Manage Channel Performance
1. Define Sales Objectives
The first step in channel performance measurement is to define the sales objectives for the company. These objectives are outlined and discussed in sales meetings to ensure a shared understanding between members of the marketing and sales teams.
2. Determine Channel Performance Metrics
Evaluating the performance of a distribution channel depends largely on the agreed upon performance metrics. Choosing the right number and type of performance metrics can help to monitor and improve the performance of channel partners. These metrics provide an understanding of how well the channel partner is doing in reaching its performance targets.
Though it is possible to evaluate a channel on hundreds of performance metrics, this would make reporting and analysis of the performance a cumbersome job. When determining channel performance metrics, a key performance driver, such as sales or units sold, should be chosen to identify and measure the most important tasks. A series of performance metrics are then decided based on the key performance driver.
3. Set Channel Partner Targets
After overall sales objectives are defined, it is important to assign specific targets to each of the channel partners to ensure they are in alignment with the overall objectives. Properly set targets provide a benchmark to measure channel success, monitor performance, and take corrective action to meet expectations. Each channel partner has a specific role towards fulfilling the overall sales objectives. Performance targets should be set to reflect the channel partner’s contribution to the overall objectives
4. Manage Channel Performance
This is the final step in channel performance measurement. It uses the agreed upon goals, assigned performance targets, and identified performance metrics to manage channel performance on an on-going basis and to identify the performance shortfalls of the channel partners. During this step, management gains an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each channel. Management can then take corrective action to ensure efficient performance of the channel.
The success of a channel and its efficiency are determined by the efficiency of channel intermediaries in delivering goods and services to customers and the quality of services offered in the process. Developing a comprehensive marketing plan that provides clear and concise direction about marketing activities and strategy is critical to the organization’s success.
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