Some channel leaders shine particularly bright. There is an undeniable spark as they discuss channel sales and marketing trends, best practices and transformation. Maria Chien, Service Director for Channel Marketing Strategies at SiriusDecisions, is one of them. Maria recently spoke with Zift Solutions for and we’re thrilled to share her perspective and thought leadership in this new Channel Chatter Series. Catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 of our interview with Maria.

The Rise of Channel Marketing & Management

Maria Chien compares the rise and growing importance of Channel Marketing and Management (CMM) tools to the advent and inclusion of Sales Force Automation (SFA) and Marketing Automation (MA) tools on the direct side of the channel.

“CMM is now reaching the channel because those platforms that were geared, born and built for the direct side of the business are not succeeding for channel organizations. They simply are not fulfilling the needs of an indirect channel,” she said.

What can channel organizations do? Maria encourages organizations investing in CMM platforms to look for built-in functionality that supports the partner/supplier relationship, including tools for measurement, driving partner adoption and offering prescriptive guidance to partners.

“Those organizations that are investing in tools specifically geared toward the unique needs of the channel are seeing those investments pay off,” she said. “What we’re seeing today is that it’s not about one marketing tactic or specialty. It’s about building a flexible platform that extends across the partner lifecycle and includes things like social media, measurement, capabilities and visibility that channel organizations have lacked up until fairly recently.”

Measuring Direct ROI

Maria noted that many organizations struggle with measuring direct ROI from the channel and offered fresh guidance for this familiar challenge.

“We’re seeing organizations measure channel ROI on a campaign-by-campaign basis while examining things like partner participation and partner adoption,” she explained. “When partners start to adopt a campaign, look at things within the campaign, as you would on the direct side of the house.”

Ask yourself:

  • How many marketing-qualified leads were generated?
  • How many resulted in sales-accepted leads?
  • How many of those sales-accepted leads from the partner-side have been qualified – maybe using a deal registration system or through some of the lead distribution systems and CMM platforms?

Then, look at how to improve upon that productivity:

  • How do you align your enablement programs against that?
  • Are we seeing deal velocity go up?
  • Are we seeing average deal size increase?
  • Are we seeing organizations have higher close rates?

“I’ve said this on numerous occasions, but it’s vital,” Maria stressed, “If you can’t measure the success of your program, you should not be funding it.”

Learn more about what to look for in a CMM platform and tips for measuring channel ROI in and be sure to watch the full interview series with Maria Chien on