Being a data-driven channel chief myself, you’ll find me talking about data quite often in this blog. The more you know, the better decisions you can make, and the more success you will drive for everyone.

But when I speak with channel chiefs in the field, I find myself wishing they would spend more time curating the tools they need to find the actionable data that will support making the right decisions for their channel’s success. There’s a tendency to “outsource” those decisions, to let the programs or IT team handle the selection of tools and platforms. I believe that’s a big mistake.

I suggest to them that nobody in their IT team, and probably nobody else in their company, understands the channel business and their partners like they do. Nobody lives every day with all the inputs needed to be successful like they do, and nobody has a better handle on the reporting they need every day, week, month, quarter, or year.

In speaking with channel leaders, it often surprises me how little they know about the tools their teams are choosing to understand and manage their channels. You need the right data, so you also need tools and platforms that your partners will actually use. Who is in a better position to make these decisions than the person on the hook for channel revenue? If I could give my past-self advice, it would be to stay very involved in any technology decisions that would affect my partners and the data I need to run my business.   

Before You Decide What You Want, You Should Know What’s Possible

For one thing, by participating more in the evaluation process for selecting data tools, you have an opportunity to learn. How are others using data? What more is even possible?

You really shouldn’t decide what you want or need until you know everything you could have, everything that’s possible. Having real time understanding of all the new capabilities coming to market opens new doors of innovation and imagination you couldn’t have reached otherwise. You always start off not knowing what you don’t know, so your best strategy is to learn as much as you can about what you could know.

Connecting and Combining Tools

Right out-of-the-box, some platforms offer capabilities you may never have thought of or thought were not available in any system you’ve seen before. With just a little bit of ingenuity, or a good application programming interface (API), all kinds of other connections can be made with other systems that can really augment what you learn from these tools. They give you the ability to create the telemetry you need to run your channel business.

It’s remarkable to see how the most successful of our colleagues have taken what the software vendors have given them, connected those applications to other platforms that support the business, and given themselves the ability to accelerate channel revenue through a multi-prong approach:

  • Analyze the data. What things happened to create revenue and how do we track the progress of those things into future quarters?
  • Coach the people. Where are the skills gaps and how can we efficiently plug them? 
  • Get ROI. How do I track my channel GTM investments and prove that they are returning?
  • Understand the customer. Where are customer needs trending and how do I help our partners pivot?

Each of these viewpoints empowers a channel leader to make better decisions. The trick is making sure you can see all these things. Picking the right tools to give you the right vantage points is critical.

There’s So Much More to Talk About

Being a data-driven channel chief is a broad, inclusive topic. In future posts, I’ll be talking about:

  • How to best determine which key performance indicators (KPI) should be most prominently displayed on your dashboard. 
  • How data can surface challenges you didn’t even know you had, in time for you to take decisive action about them. 
  • How to recognize trends in the data that can help you devise future strategy.

I’ll also be sharing insights and best practices from the best chiefs in the channel.

Please do let me know if there are topics you’d appreciate learning more about here in this blog for channel chiefs by a channel chief.