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111 | Leveraging data to boost your channel strategy

51 min listen

Drive change; own your data challenges. 

This week brings a special episode as we're joined by two of our own; John Breedon, Director of DataOps & Performance and Seb Tyack, Managing Director of Channel Solutions. 

You'll learn more about owning your channel data strategy, and how you can get your data to do the heavy lifting for supercharging your channel success. Jon covers questions like:

  • Why is data a key part of channel success?
  • As a vendor, what data should you be prioritising?
  • How to tell if your programs are performing for your channel?

And so many more insightful, channel-focused topics beyond these too

Tune in now, wherever you get your podcasts:


View the full transcript here

Jon Busby: Welcome to another episode of the tech marketing podcast. This is a special episode, actually, because we're recording this with some internal guests for once we've got some return visitors. It's special when we got external, it's special when we got in. It's extra special when we got Jon and Sam.

Yeah, so we're joined by John Breeden, our data ops director and Seb who is our managing director of channel. I had to think about that for a second there, Seb managing director of channel solutions, but yeah, it's a pleasure to have you both on the podcast. And today we're going to be talking about how to cultivate a data driven strategy for your channel, which I think is something a lot of businesses.

I'm really hoping that we've got an answer for so firstly, welcome both back to the podcast. It's a pleasure to have you here. Thanks, John. For those listeners that haven't listened to an episode with either of you, and you have been on a few episodes each, I think, John, you've actually been on our most popular episode which is just going to

Seb Tyack: also be on just more

Jon Busby: than a lot of people.Yeah. But also the most popular. Not

Seb Tyack: to have any, thanks for putting that down, Harry, They're all backhanded compliments. But

Jon Busby: also, but I mean it is our most popular one. But also, yeah, just to get our listeners to go back through our back catalogue there. But the which is one of our like first five or something, isn't it?

It was on episode one. Episode one, there you go. They're o. G. So for listeners that aren't familiar with either of you though, Just give us a quick introduction about who you are, what your job role is and try not to butcher it like I just have. Yeah,

John Breedon: so my role is everything data. We look at all kinds of data from media data.

We've got first party data, second party data, third party data how we pull it together, the operations there's a lot to it, but effectively it's trying to find or support our clients to understand. The impact that their activities are having is, is it working? Is it the right investment?

That's ultimately ROI is what we're trying to figure out.

Seb Tyack: I'm Seb and I lead the channel solutions team at Together. And we do three things really for our partners or free or for our clients, free areas that we focus on. So the first one is partner marketing. So how do we help them market to partners for partners and then with partners more effectively partner programs so pulling together.

Engagement frameworks for our clients who are vendors to help their partners with incentive and reward clubs or sales enablement programs or compliance. And then thirdly, really around tech. So we have a number of products which we have in the field with a number of different great clients and customers, and we operate to some degree, almost like a solutions integrator.

And I think helping our clients not only just implement our tech, but how to knit together other parts of their tech stack to make it work more effectively. So quite a broad area, but all focused around helping our clients better engage and activate

Jon Busby: partners. I think that's a I'd love that solutions integrator system integrator, even it's both really doesn't matter what that stands for, but I'd love that description.

Cause I think it so well describes the value that we often add to a lot of our clients, but also the challenge that they're facing. We are living in a world where many businesses, in fact, I can't think of a single vendor that I've spoken to recently that hasn't said they're relying on partners to make up the shortfall.

They're all looking for partners to become the answer to the solution, which is how do we grow given the incredibly competitive and challenging economy and environment at the moment. So why do we think data is so important? As part of a partner strategy, both for vendors and for partners.

Seb Tyack: So if I was starting, across everything we do in all of those three areas, I just described data's key to all of them. But if I think about why is it a key part of channel success, not only a strategy based on data, but a strategy for your data is because of that composition that you talked about.

The marketplace is difficult. We want partners to drive our growth, but those partners have multiple vendors who are also trying to get their attention, trying to get their focus, trying to help them grow their business. And I think that competition drives the need to deliver great partner experiences, great services.

For your partners to choose to work with you is ultimately outside of your product, which needs to be great. They will work properly with the vendors who are the easiest to do business with. And that's the competition that you're in and data is a key part of making you easier to do business with, and it proliferates in lots of ways.

But if you think about being easy to do business with, it's helping provide to a person, a partner or your own partner account teams. So the people in your business who work with partners, things that are information that's useful, timely, specific, actionable. So all the stuff that means you've just told me something that would be good for me to do, I'm going to go do it, rather than going, you know what, we want you to do loads of things, but can you go into all of this areas and try and work it out and what's good for you and what's good for other people.

So I think that ability to personalize at that level is key. And then the second thing that enables you to do is to then automate that in a much bigger way. So if you've invested in this tech stack, and we've seen it so many of our clients over years in MarTech in particular, you'd buy, you'd get tech because of the functionality and the promise it gives you, but then find it really hard to actually utilize all of that.

And I'm sure part of it is because data's not quite been right or not really there to help drive those personal experiences at a scale.

Jon Busby: John, why did, why do we think, as our data ops director, you get to handle a lot of clients data on a daily basis. Why do we think the data isn't there?


John Breedon: think it's interesting. We've had the discussion very recently with the learning team at a client and their learning team are looking at their internal sales education, but also their channel education. It's a big part of what they do. And. When these systems are brought in, when these SAS systems are brought in, they are brought in isolation.

But the reality is, if you're a large tech organization, you don't, you have many different things going on. It's not one learning management system, because you've got one that's managed maybe by the sales team for the sales team, you've got another one managed by the channel team for the channel team.

You've got Partner programs and, websites to deliver the content, the material and all that kind of stuff. And the most difficult thing is all of these systems aren't designed to work together because there's no one kind of orchestrating at the top of everything to say, okay, I want my LMS. I want my CRM system.

I want my CMS system. I want everything to bring it together into one kind of. repository of data because they're just not designed to do that. So they do what they do individually really well. And you can get that insight. But when you're looking at a partner, when you want to see the benefit of a partner, if you're introducing learning and you're investing heavily in learning for those channels, especially if you're a big organization that, you're changing, you're moving from product to solutions led, or you are a solutions led organization, there's a lot of different improvements and, enhancements that you make to your product offering.

It's really hard to understand is the learning having an impact on the bottom line because you have to then start bringing together the learning data from each of those individual partners, the products that they're learning about, the teams who would get involved and then try to understand over the course of a six or 12 month period, is that paying off from a sales perspective?

Because that's what the exec team wants to know. The money that we're investing is The Royal way. The money that we're investing as an organization into this learning is huge. Is it paying off from sales? Because that's the point. That's the aim. Are we beating our competitors? Are we taking market share?

Are we generating higher sales than we did before? And it's really hard because you've got to find then someone within your business or a partner that can help you bring that data together and do that analysis. I've got, Quite an interesting example. I'll go through a little bit later on, but that's probably the difficulty that sits at the moment.

Jon Busby: Interesting. So we talk about moving towards this data driven process, right? And so the first thing I want to ask is what does data driven really mean to all of us? So Seb we've operated these kind of programs at scale with some of our clients. What does being data driven mean to a partner organization, which normally, by pure definition, partner means is about relationships and and softer things.

So what does being data driven mean in the

Seb Tyack: channel? There's a whole range of things. I think it's such a big topic we're trying to discuss because what John's touched on just now is kind of attribution. It's a huge challenge in the channel. How do I attribute activities? To something hard data driven sales revenue and say this sale was because of this.

So that's one element where we know all of our clients, we talk about it loads, particularly in the marketing space of like, how do I attribute? There's then the kind of insight and analytics piece of trying to understand what is happening and what I should do. By looking at data, so there's huge analytic teams in lots of our, in lots of our clients who are designing new programs or looking at how should we affect our rebate structure to deal with something in the marketplace, but also with the behavior and activities we're seeing and how does that roll through.

So there's that analytics piece and then there is the kind of experience, the user experience, the way in which we're trying to help businesses or people move along a journey to an end goal, which is. growth. So I think there's three areas, which is why it's such a huge topic to try and tackle. So being data driven could apply to any of those three.

How do we make decisions? How do we understand what's happening? And what's succeeding? And then how do we actually try and motivate and move partners in the direction we want to go? So a good example of something we've done, and there's not a top five podcast, but a very good one about the Lenovo Reward Club.

So that's a really good example of a data driven program where we're bringing in lots of activities and capturing data from different systems. We're assessing that data and making sure some of it is correct and that there's no anomalies. So we're doing a little bit of cleaning on what we bring in. And then we're operating on that kind of baseline of data we've created to say now I can show information to partner A to say, here's all the points that you've earned.

And here's every single sale that you made that earned some points and what they are. So you're providing something quick. It's transparent. There's information available. And then here's all the things you can do with your points. And then as you spend them, that goes into your statement. So the whole program is data driven because.

It's pretty much automated. There's a couple of transfers that are happening, but otherwise we're pulling data in from places and we're delivering a unique view to a partner, which is automated. And that view should be suggestive to say, actually, here's your boosters. Here's the things we want you to do.

And then we see 20 percent of those partners really getting into it. We see their sales increasing year on year. And we begin to go, we now have a data driven program, which is fulfilling the purpose that the client has incentivize and reward partners for doing things we want them to do.

Partners are winning. And at the end of it, we can look at it and say that type of program used to be quite tactical, quite driven by internal reporting. Lots of one to ones with partners took a long time to get information. Didn't necessarily get the same reward because it wasn't. As data driven, so again, for me, that's the automation pieces that you're able to build on that kind of data rule you've got to just drive things without needing people.

Jon Busby: I think we're like, we're so that you've touched on a couple of things there that I think are really important to highlight that we we make excuses for in B2B sometimes the automation and transparency that we take for granted when using any B2C experience, right?

We're not gonna, you're not going to go to book an Uber and then it just says. Come back in 20 minutes and we've synced our database with location or something. It's not going to be very helpful to, to understand. That's a fairly bad example, like we, we tend to say, you know what, it's okay.

Those systems sit in silos and it just takes a few days for someone to take a spreadsheet from one and upload it into another, but it's not very transparent. It's not what partners expect and it's not building an experience that brings them back. Is it?

Seb Tyack: No, not at all. And that comes back to that piece about being easier to do business with.

It's not, in our consumer life, we look for convenience. We look for practicality. We're people. So we still do that work a hundred percent. So if something is easier to do, we will gravitate towards the one. It doesn't mean easy as in I'm lazy. It just means easy as in it takes me less of my precious time and I can do something else.

But the transparency bit's really important because in partner partnering. in partnerships, like every successful partnership, whether it's people or businesses, there's a degree of trust, there's a degree of openness and there's a degree of kind of understanding, which you only get if you're being transparent,

Jon Busby: the let's dive into the individual types of data for a moment because john, as you mentioned, this data can be incredibly complex.

It all sits in various different individual systems. Like what data do you think is most valuable from from a vendor to be able to make better decisions or to be able to make better experiences for partners, let's say. So I think go ahead,

John Breedon: John. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. No, I've got an answer.

So I'm gonna jump in. I think one of the benefits of The partner perspective is when you're in B2B, you're, you've got so much unknown data, you're activating media campaigns, you're trying to engage interest to an audience that you're trying to match or you're trying to find or target, and it's very difficult.

Within the partner ecosystem, a lot of it is known data because you've built this ecosystem. Once you've recruited that part, once they're on board and that data starts to make mean something, you know who they are. So learning management systems have logins. You can track activity back to individuals and back to organizations.

With loyalty programs, you can track who's getting the awards, who's making sales, even with sales data now. Although sales data is probably one of the most difficult pieces because it has to go through so many partners or so many kind of stages. I think the benefit of the channel side of things is.

Who you're talking to, who you're working with, who's engaging. And so it makes the complexity a little bit easier because you can, in it's simplistic format, you can tie every user at partner number one to all of the sales that you're getting to partner number one.

And you can start to see those products and are they having. Is the training you're doing having a correlation on the products they're selling? Is that happening in three months, six months, 12 months? It's not this big idea where you're trying to build a really complex attribution model where you're trying to say this person visited our website and filled out a form and we've had 10 people from that organization.

It's so much Easier to do. And I think there's an element of fear because it's how you go about that. And I think taking ownership as an individual within an organization, you've got to do this already, but it's so manual. It's so task intensive. And to what Seb was saying before, it's the first step is about that automation piece.

It's bringing that data together. And because it's the partner closed ecosystem, you've got a really good idea who everyone is.

Jon Busby: I think there's a really important point there as well, that we need to just make sure we're I want to make sure we're making here which is in a world now where third party cookies are going away, we are, well, they might be going away, they might not be going away as quickly as we thought based on the CMA ruling.

But that knowing that user data, that is. That's first party data, right? And that is gold in this world, right? Being able to know, have, you've actually got a goldmine of, um, I'm just thinking through all the different sources that you could have. It'd be incredibly valuable to utilize that for many different reasons.

So I think it, I just want to stress if anyone's thinking about a first party data strategy and they don't think they have any first party data, if you're in the channel, you've got a huge amount. And I think you need to utilize that more. Seb, same question. Like what data do you think a vendor should prioritize?

And how should they make that decision? Um,

Seb Tyack: It's an interesting one. Cause I think from our experience, I would start probably with kind of what is it? What's the challenge or the objective they have? What are they trying to solve as a start point? There's so many different examples depending on who you might be, but we know some of our clients have definitely in the past struggled to.

Be able to manage compliance, manage kind of a simultaneous open, transparent audit of a business's sales and training and like SLAs and contract statuses and everything that might go into, you're going to be placed in this tier of a program. Or you're going to be in this particular area of the program.

So in those instances, again, you would prioritize all of the data to help you make that decision. So sales would be, is an obvious one. It might be training. It might be. Looking at what's stopping you doing this. It could be the challenges that exist within your CRMs. Certainly we see so many of our clients go through acquisitions and mergers and you can have a really stable tech stack of goodness that's completely thrown into jeopardy based on suddenly you've got to absorb another tech stack and another CRM and businesses exist in both and it takes time to do these things.

So it's It's certainly in terms of running programs, you'd look at what type of program you're trying to run. Okay, let's start with the data that we would need to run that program and can we prioritize it? It's interesting then when we talk about second party. Data in effect, like within the channel, because certainly if we're losing third party cookies and the ability to track people and so on.

We started going, are we going to be more contextual in our marketing is we're not quite sure exactly of, what everybody's been doing within the channel with the idea of sharing data, that's quite a challenging. Concept in a way, because when we talk about transparency and trust and everything that makes a partnership sound great, one of the things we know is partners generally want to protect their own customer data.

They don't love always sharing it with their vendor partners because they feel like, oh, that's probably why I'm valuable to you because I have these customers. So there's an interesting dynamic in that around. Oh, there's a great opportunity. But how do you actually make that work in a useful way for everyone?

We know there's,

Jon Busby: How do you make it work? Sorry.

Seb Tyack: No, I it's the interesting thing. We talked to Companies like reveal or partner tap across there's ways of sharing customer information, but when it gets to like the level of detail that might be useful, it goes beyond that, doesn't it?

Because it's almost like basically sharing your marketing data with another business, even if you have a kind of an agreement. But yeah, I think the, to your question of what should vendors prioritize? I think it comes down to the areas I would say they're challenged with most and the objectives they have that they're trying to meet and then going to really advance it forward.

If we were going to, take this area, the data they should prioritize would reveal itself,

Jon Busby: no, that wasn't meant to be a product plug for reveal, by the way, but it's a well known product for data. Yeah,

Seb Tyack: We can edit it out. There's many brands available.

Jon Busby: Yeah. Other, there are other brands available.

No, I agree, but could you give us an example, Seb, of, you mentioned that it's based on the goals that they want to achieve, but let's go down into an actual example. Let's say I'm a tech vendor that gives most of our clients can still fill it for them to that that umbrella. And I am a going a hundred percent channel and I want to prioritize channel sales.

What kind of metrics would I use in order to drive change in my channel? What would I be looking at?

Seb Tyack: So in terms of to drive channel sales I think there's a few, I guess there might be two areas you'd look at. You're going into the channel. You need to tell your partners, how are they going to grow their business with you?

Like what's going to be the way in which they're going to grow, because that's probably what ultimately every partner's trying to do is grow their business in a sustainable way. So you'll have your. Your offer to the marketplace and you want partners to either help you deliver it or to compliment it or make it, make it better.

Whatever that their kind of services are. So again, I think like metrics wise, I'd be. Really looking at what I would want them to invest in to meet those requirements. So again, they will probably sales would be something that you would look at. It could well be their investment in certifications and training and becoming expert in what you do.

And it could be that those service areas, where you're almost going, this is the type of businesses we're looking for to compliment. Really, you're starting to build your partner program. Because this is then the bit where you're saying, if you invest in these areas, if you are hitting these particular metrics, which we care about, then that's how you're going to receive more and more benefit back from us.

It's interesting. You still see within those, a basic program. Many businesses still have a sales focus. .

Jon Busby: But sales, even though we, but sales is a lagging indicator, though sales is happens after the effect. Like you almost wanna discover what the, what are those partners, I guess this is what really interests me, especially in the, in what we're.

The last year that we've seen, we've made it 24 minutes into this recording and not said AI yet. So I'm going to say it like in the year that we've seen with artificial intelligence, you want to find those. Metrics, I think that show that someone is on the up that could start to be your next big CW or soft cat or large partner.

So I think other part, other big partners do exist as well. The, those are the only two that I could think of right then. I think it's trying to discover what data points you need to collect there. Like John, you've, you dive into clients data on a daily basis. So what are the unexpected, what are the surprising data points that you think we should be turning over rocks to

John Breedon: uncover?

I think certain context goes back to what Seb was saying. It depends on the objective. So if you're an organization that sells hardware, you've done it for many years, you're not looking to change, then the metrics that you're focused on is just partners that can increase that, partners that can reach bigger customers that can sell more units.

And that's acceptable. That's absolutely right. But if you're a partner that's evolving their product offering, if they're moving, I mentioned before, going from hardware to software or services What you then want to find is the partners that are embracing that. So when you're looking at the early identifiable metrics, which partners are submitting potential deals, deal opportunities that have these services involved, whether they're successful or not.

From sales perspective, you want to try and keep a track on those partners that are embracing the information you're communicating, that they're taking up the learning that you're doing on those new solutions and those new areas of improvement, joining webinars, all that kind of stuff. because they give the early indicator of which partners are on board to then focus on moving forward.

But then sales data, and I agree, sales data is a lag indicator, but it's also quite important to keep an eye on because if you've got partners that aren't embracing the new way of working, they're not embracing the new offering. They're not embracing the new capabilities as a vendor and that the vendors offering.

You can then look at them and they're doing it with someone else first and foremost, or is it just it's not their back? It's not, you can have some very long standing partners that are really comfortable in the space. They're in they're doing well And that's okay. So It goes back to what Seb was saying, it's all about What your objective is.

And I think if you are changing as a vendor, changing your business model in any way the use of AI, the use of software solution services, I think it's where a lot of companies are going now, it's trying to identify those partners that engage early and engage quickly, and then using that to find similar types of partners from a recruitment perspective, because, You could have thousands of partners within your network across the world.

And if only 5 percent are selling this new world or this, they're only engaging with this new world, then you're going to be stuck, especially if you go down this 100 percent channel model. So I think there are a number of different things you can do. But keep in mind. Things may take time. You're not going to see instant results.

If you look, 20 percent of your partners have taken this learning. Great. That doesn't mean 20 percent of those 20 percent of partners are going to then start selling this solution or engaging. They might've done it. They might've thought it's not right for them. And I think there's still in a data driven world, going back to a previous question.

I think it's still really important, the human element. You've got your. channel account managers that maintain those relationships with your partners. And yes, data is going to give you an overview. The bigger organization you are, the better you can get, it's really important, but it's also really important to get that.

gut feeling, but engagement from the partner account managers to see what do they think the channel is going to do and try and find a way of getting their unquantifiable feedback into a central place. Ask them for a survey, which partners do you think are going to embrace it, which arms, what are the reasons they aren't let's try and do that work because honestly, I think you can justify about anything you want with data, depending on how you skew it, depending on how you structure it.

You can answer most things with data in a way that makes What you're doing look right or good or whatever it may be but you just need that context you need to make sure you've got the human element. So it's not Data driven shouldn't just be, here are the facts and figures, this is exactly what we're going to do.

It's here are the facts and figures that should back up what you're planning, based on what strategically you think is the best approach. And it's just giving you that confidence that, the decision you're making is right.

Jon Busby: I, there's one thing that you said there, John, that really sticks out for me.

There's two things. One, halfway through you mentioned about the webinar attendance, like how many vendors today? How many businesses today are actually tracking webinar attendance? If you're doing it for leads, you're doing it for leads, right? You're going to be tracking them. I would say right now I'd be, I'd love to hear from a.

Channel vendor that is tracking partner webinar attendance and using that as part of their decision making pipeline because I would love to see how that data is being used. Because I think it's certainly I'm not, I've not met any today that were automated that are pulling that into some kind of behavioral model or even some might be doing some kind of incentivization, but I think that's really

Seb Tyack: important.

It's really interesting because I think that. The case and kind of what you described John makes total sense and really when you look at a lot of programs, the 80 20 rule, and it's nearer often like 95 5 in terms of that much 95 percent revenue from 5 percent partners. I feel like those 5 percent of partners or 10%.

Most vendors, they know them really well, they're part of their advisory boards. They are working together, shaping opportunities to support each other in effect. But I think where, what you've described is really interesting because it's in that. 80 percent or so of partners that have done a couple of transactions.

They had a deal with a customer. They signed up, they did the deal, and then they get on with their world. And maybe there'll be another deal in a year's time. Because then the use case that we're talking about, the objective, as you described it, John, is how do I identify the diamonds? In the rough what should I be looking for?

And I think that then becomes a really clear objective and then makes tons of sense that you would look at loads of different engagement points just to try and get markers, and I think again, you might then look for external data, where you can to try and understand are some of these partners operating in similar programs to yourself in a bigger way.

Because then you begin to go, Oh, that, that business, if they're in your competitor, two of your competitors programs at a good level, you can begin to work out, they must be spending, X amount with those businesses. So they become suddenly much more of a street like strategic group.

We are like we want to acquire these partners because potentially they have business much quicker. So I think definitely. I'd be interested as well to see which, like how are vendors doing that? Because there are definitely in bigger companies, like the big, the huge channel businesses, there are teams looking looking at that at national levels.

Because, the idea of you want to grow your business in a marketplace, you might just look at we need 10 more top tier partners. So we need to move 10 up, but we need to backfill those 10 with 10 more businesses coming in. And that should drive our growth, which I always feel is a very simple strategy, but actually makes good sense because you're trying to grow 10 businesses, not how do I get a hundred?

Which is a much more difficult kind of objective,

John Breedon: I think just on that side as well, I think you're absolutely right in the 80, 20, 95, five whatever, and data really plays an important part in the 80 percent because you're going to know the 20 percent exactly. That's where it can make a difference.

And if you were to what you're saying, if you take sales revenue. Your first party data, the second party depends on how you get it and the sales revenue by partner that people that have spent once they bought from you once they've done a project a year ago, whatever it may be, apply that to, for example, Experian data.

There is others out there. That gives you the size of those partner organizations. If you start to get a gauge then of what percentage are you of that business. Yeah. It's something that isn't going to involve a huge amount of research. You're not going to go and try and get data from places that you shouldn't.

But you get a gauge. If they've spent 5 million, say 5, 000 pound with you as a vendor, but their business is worth 13 million you're a small player and they've got opportunity to grow at the type of partner. So there's definitely things that you could do. Going back to one of the very early questions about what is the most important data does come down to sales.

Channel is all about sales. Everybody cares what sales channel making and how each partner is making it and stuff like that. But that's also a way that you can bring together the data from what you've got versus what's available, but it's not hugely costly. It's just getting the time to sit and compare

Seb Tyack: it.

Yeah, but if he then I think there's a really there's a great use case when we talk about using, understanding something from data and then automating actions that follow from it because taking that 80%. Looking at sales data and in a way, I think for partners growing in programs sales is the invis, the bit that's not always so obvious.

So there's deal registration. You can see pipeline, but it takes a while to convert. It's not something you can just go, look, we're gonna make it happen this week. Lots of other activities actually are that type of activity. I can do all of the training in one week, or I can say we need to hit five webinars in the next month.

It's it's different to saying we need to do 2 million pounds of sales in the next month. But you could totally see how you 80 percent and go, there are triggers. There are points of interest. Your top partners have account managers, like lots of what we do is aimed to help those partners and those account managers work together effectively.

But there are really nice ways of providing almost like your virtual account manager, views of information that partners can see. that are designed to say, look, you're moving in the right direction. And at the point you hit 50 percent of the way, it's like you are now in a group that we care about a lot.

Because you have the potential to move up the program or to move into another area. And then to then deliver good marketing, good engagement, whatever those are, all the different touch points that are at our disposal would be the type of, like a really good Modern way of nurturing. Does the data ever help them in the moving up?

Or does it just say you need to do X, Y, and Z to move up? Generally, the data would tell them, give them the actions they need to take. But what you can do is begin to say, if you're, when you get, when it gets really good, you would get to the point of saying you've made your sales goal, but you haven't done training.

Or you'd say you've done all of your training, which we know means you're investing. But you haven't done the sales, so you might open up deal reg to partners at that point to say, you know what, if you start putting pipeline in and we can see where you're at, we'll incentivize you in a way that we do, maybe with a discount or something that you give to other partners.

But what you could do is say, if you need to do training, it's like John, you need to do two things and John, you need to do three things. Yeah, I need to do one because I'm a non John. And then. But the main thing you'd want to say is going collectively, you've got two and a half hours of things to do.

So it's not just first of all, we're telling you what to do, which is helpful. Secondly, we're saying this is how long it will take, which gives you some context of actually, if I do that and then I can get a rebate on my sales for the rest of the year, that's a good deal. So it's trying to not just say you're close, go work it out.

It's not to go, here's what you have to do. It's give as much as you can and just make it simple. That's the idea.

John Breedon: I think as well, you could also, for those target partners that the vendors really want, that they see an opportunity in, especially with the more complex vendors that have. fees around training on, getting the experience needed to make those sales.

You can start doing those free opportunities because it's in the vendors interest. So come along to a two day experience. We'll pay, you just got to get your hotel kind of thing. Because we know there's a possibility we want to get you there. We're going to invest a bit of time. You're going to invest time to come along.

And so there's lots of things you can do going back to, I think, Seb's key point earlier in the podcast, when he's talking, what's the objective, what is it you need to do? There's, I think in the channel world, I would say it really is a series of levers. You've got all of these different levers and it's just adjusting based on what your objectives are.

And it's, yeah,

Jon Busby: interesting. Okay. I think that's where we've taken it from being quite tactical to being a lot more strategic there, right? It's it is about trying, because right down the tactical level said, you've got those elements of you need to do 10 minutes of this training or just a gold, but at the higher level, it's around trying to identify those trends

Seb Tyack: totally.

And that's the thing. All of those little steps that are based on a piece of data that you can see, they do layer up into. Meeting the big objectives you have as a business, which is growth. Like ultimately that's what everyone's trying to do.

Jon Busby: And I think that's where the kind of joining of a lot, we've talked about big data has been around for a decade now, but with AI on top of this data, you can start to say, find me more partners like this.

And they can, and you can identify those triggers in new and different ways, which previously would have been out of reach for many vendors. Because John, back to your point, bringing all that data together from the siloed systems was the first challenge. But secondly, you needed the right people to analyze it and to understand the partner behavior.

And not say that's not still a challenge, but I think that the opportunities more than it ever has been.

John Breedon: It's funny you say that, John, we had a conversation with someone this week about analyzing learning and development data. And the person that we were talking to, they made a very good point.

We know how to do learning. We know learning. We know how to see learning the results of learning the impact of learning. What we don't know is how to get all of the different data together to see the impact. So yeah, I think it's about enabling those people, those skilled people in those different areas, learning loyalty channel engagement, whatever it may be to give them the insight or the data that they need to then go and do their job really well.

So they're not spending a week every quarter pulling together data. They're spending a week. A couple of days, maybe every few weeks, analyzing the data that they've got and seeing the things that are going to make a difference. So they can start being a lot more proactive in what they're going with and what they're doing.

Seb Tyack: Yeah. That sounds like we're thinking about what would we recommend? If there was something that we would say, and I guess that there were two things that come to mind for me and that they're partly just from listening to people who are running channel programs and what they've learned and sharing their experiences.

But I think. The challenge is a lot of our clients will have is they're relatively small teams like nobody in the channel goes my biggest problem is I've got too much headcount and I don't know what to get, I don't know what they need to do. It's like it doesn't exist. Yeah, totally.

So you're always starting from I've got huge objectives, but there's three of us. And that's difficult. And then you're also in some businesses, the systems that you need to disrupt or get to, you want to galvanize and use, they're managed by teams who have got responsibilities and other parts of the business and other areas, whether it's governance or compliance or legal or it, so it's difficult.

So the thing I, the two things I think I've seen that have worked really well is first of all, is. Own the problem a bit or own the challenge, like you need to make data work for you. You have to make it a function of your team or you have to bring someone in who's going to, it's not so much master it, but say, I will learn the data we hold where it is, how good it is.

What are the challenges with it? What would we need to do to then utilize it to transform the way we're working? You have to bring that into your area and say, that's my challenge. Channel data is part of channel team. And that would be the first thing. And then I think the second piece, if you can, is to bring in almost like your own developer, your own team, because that systems integrate a function.

It's amazing hearing people running channels who said, Oh, actually, I brought that team into my sphere. I hired, I was allowed to hire. So you've got to, again, that's the challenge, but the difference they said it's made to being able to actually. Not just then understand the data, but begin to integrate things together to make journeys work better and to bring that into your sphere and not have it in another group makes a huge difference.

And again, it's not a plug, but if you can't do that, then you can work with a business like us that can do exactly those things for you. So that is a plug. Actually, that was brazen, but it's not meant to be, but it's just going like the value. I feel we bring to our clients is those two things like they feel really.

They're like enabling them to do things because we understand their data and we can action it So if you can do it yourself, that's the first thing and if you can't Then certainly find a business that can do it with you.

Jon Busby: Yeah, completely agree. I think, I guess what's swimming around my head as I'm thinking about some of that Seb is And we've talked a lot about some of the different data points and maybe some of the different goals I think as well as owning that problem owning the solution if you will, let's say you know building a data warehouse would be number one, like owning the team that would start to run the processes to pull them in or subcontracting a team such as ourselves to do it for you.

But I think, before we even get started on that and before you can realize step three, which of course is profit, you need to know. Why you're doing this. And if I think about some of the diff, that, that can vary a lot from sales that we mentioned earlier, like I need to drive new sales, or it can vary right back to, I just need to provide a better partner experience.

That's more transparent. And so I think you have to be clear what your end goal is. If I think about some of the different. Interactions, clients, we've got one looking at improving the partner experience. We've got another one that is looking at him for compliance reasons, but as a secondary is also improving the partner experience.

I do think you have to have that. end of the tunnel in mind before you get started. So you know, which data to collect. I think that's obvious, but I don't know. I just think it can be a lot more nuanced than many people realize.

Seb Tyack: Yeah, I think it's definitely, cause it's talking with your partners.

It's understanding your channel. There's no business says I'm a pure reseller. I just sell hardware. In the way I used to every business is trying to provide services and if they don't themselves, they work with an, with a, like an aggregator to help provide those services to their customer. So it's definitely understanding.

Your partners, when you look at a lot of partner feedback about what they care about, normally the top responses will be the product, the tech, the quality of it, the capability, like what it would enable them to do for their customers, which makes sense. Ultimately the quality of their service to their customer would be, you would imagine should be number one, but very quickly after that, you'll see ease of doing business as like the first partnering element.

And then later on, you'll see commercial terms like rebates, you'll see support you'll see. So I think that's why it's never underestimating the way you'll win.

Jon Busby: Yeah. And I think that's why I want to raise it. It's because so many, you're exactly right. So many partners. In fact, I've never heard a vendor not say, we want to be frictionless or easy to do business with and so on.

It's a common goal, but when you actually start to pick apart some of this. Some of the journeys that we build for partners, they become much more convoluted. And so I think you need to make sure you don't lose sight of that goal and sometimes doing less might, some might be more. With all these different data points that come from all these different vendor, multiple partners and sometimes multiple different parts.

Alongside what's happening with the buyers journey, like how, yeah how do you do

Seb Tyack: that? I would challenge, not challenge, but I would question how easy it is to actually track all the activity happening around one customer. If you're a vendor with multiple businesses, like there's that ecosystem around the customer, you'll probably see a bit of it.

But it's quite difficult to know all

Jon Busby: of that. I think this is something that I've learned very recently with data, actually. John and I have both talked about this a fair amount when we're talking about how you prove the impacts of certain programs. And it's the biggest challenge, Seb, we've talked about this, I always had with the ecosystem.

In fact, I'm sure we've discussed this on the podcast. Like the ecosystem itself is this nebulous term that nobody can really understand. And I've heard, but I've heard quite a few good definitions. It's things like rewarding the non transacting partner is probably the one of the clearest I've heard.

So how do you track that? Like, how do you understand what that looks like? How do you understand all the different, I think it didn't, we recently see an Ingram Micro quote that it takes seven different partners to deliver a customer solution. Have I got that figure right? Yeah. Was it, is it five

Seb Tyack: or seven?

It was, yeah, it was, or maybe it was 5.7. It's one those, it's between five brilliant. Seven stats. Yeah,

Jon Busby: between five and seven. But the point is, what I'm learning here is sometimes this data isn't it's not precise. It's not scientific. You need to collect it from your partner account managers.

It needs to be more qualitative, not quantitative sometimes. That might mean using surveys as one of your inputs instead of using data points and behavior elements and training data and sales and all of that stuff that is very binary. And I think you need to make sure you incorporate that into your pipeline and then.

Relish the surprises that come out of it.

Seb Tyack: So how have we seen Sorry Seb, carry on. I was just going to say, I'm just thinking about how we've seen different clients trying to address this idea. So for me, ecosystem, I think of it more about there's a customer and on average a business will have seven trusted IT suppliers.

And that's the customer's ecosystem. One or two of them might be the primary. Drivers of that ecosystem, they might all work together in another customer. Another one could be a driver. So there's a few businesses are introducing tech and solutions to a customer. So it goes through them.

And then I also think about the customer life cycle of why you don't just focus on sales because. There's influence up to the point of sale, and then there's service and retention after the point of sale. And you want to be rewarding all of those areas, not just So there's these two kind of elements for me about it.

So I've seen one client who's used deal registration to basically allow a business to say, I didn't do the sale, but I influenced the sale that took place. And that can happen when the company that registers the deal and says, I am going to do a sale. They're able to say which other businesses are part of this.

And then those businesses are enabled once they're registered to then say, this is what I've done. So it could be, for example, they ran workshops where they introduced the tech as a recommendation to say, here's free solutions that could meet your need and so on. So as long as they've done that, a large software business will be incentivized for people to do workshops.

They're like saying, so that's a pre sale. So you can do a proof of execution to say here's the workshop I did and then you can in effect get some reward for doing that. So there's different ways of beginning to see people trying to capture who's influencing a deal, but doing it through the processes that exist today, which is natural.

Because, the process that's going to do this really is probably being invented as we're talking, um, by one of the many companies that are looking at how do I manage an ecosystem?

Jon Busby: I don't think anyone's quite nailed it. I even had this problem recently buying a very popular piece of small business CRM and Marketing automation software.

And we wanted to acknowledge the partner that had advised us, but we didn't want to necessarily use the partner. We just wanted to be like, Dave, they gave us some information that was helpful. We would like to acknowledge them as part of this deal. And we hit a conflict point where they were saying I think from their side, it either had to be an internal sale or it had to be a partner.

And we had to push them a bit to be like, no, I want to acknowledge this partner for the advice they've given us. So I think for many businesses. I'm going to use Dell have famously gone out with this. Microsoft have gone out with this recently. I think every other business is doing the same thing.

You need to make sure that your internal mechanisms aren't conflicting as well when you start to, and that you're able to reward those non transacting partners. But as I said,

Seb Tyack: yeah, this is why the channel is such a fascinating, brilliant space to work in because it's because we now have more problems than we started.

No, but that is the challenge that our clients have, we have, is how do I track what's happening here? How do I influence it? How do I attribute it? And how do I, like, make it happen? And it's a It's an interesting, it's why it's such an interesting space to be working in. John, bringing

Jon Busby: back to you, because we probably need to close this off with some final thoughts.

What how do you think, what's your one piece of advice for how to get started with data in the channel?

John Breedon: One piece of advice,

Jon Busby: That's the question I've got written down, by the way. So

John Breedon: yeah, I think everything's going to take time. If a client was asking me that question, I would say to them, just get the data together, start getting the data into a central place.

A more general response, I think, is start getting your sales data together, because it's going to help in the early stages before you can start pulling together all of the different elements and really understanding all of those levers. If you can show to the business. progression, you pull your sales data and then you get your learning data in and you start to see any kind of correlation between the learning that partners are doing and the sales that they're generating.

It starts to help your cause, especially when you go back to the leadership team and say, we need more headcount. We need more time to focus on this activity. So my. For the more general response for this podcast, I'd say get your sales data sorted and start linking that through.

That's probably the first point because it'll give you those quick wins and allow you to start scaling up and get the resource that's going to help you scale. So I think

Seb Tyack: John's right. Sales data is a good start point because generally, no matter what you're going to do, the point of sale is still going to be interesting and you can pivot around that.

So that's a good, that's a good start. I think probably understanding all of the. Before you own the problem, before you think about how you can influence it yourself, it's probably just understanding what are all of the different data inputs coming into my business that I need to think about.

So you, you will have a CRM, you will have sales out reporting. You will have an ERP where you won't be able to get anything, but there's information you'll need. You'll have an LMS. It's just understand where all the different points partners are engaging and data's coming into us, because that's probably the, your first.

Port of call is like mapping. Okay, we've got this. As soon as you see, we've got two CRMs. We've got two of this. That presents probably an area that we, if we haven't solved it, we need a way of aggregating that data. Like you said, a data lake, a middleware, whatever it is. And that, but that would be the start point.

But like I said, the other ones are probably just try and own it.

Jon Busby: Yeah. Get a good view of what your data looks like. Seb and John, it's been a pleasure having you both on the Tech Marketing Podcast again. We hope to see you back again soon. And I hope listeners, if you've been, if you've been with us throughout this journey, you've taken away a few keen tidbits on how to Couldn't get started with data in your channel.

Of course, if you're stuck, it would be silly, come and speak to myself or Sam or John or anyone who wants to come and talk to you about data because we can talk about data for another couple of hours. Can't we? So no, thank you both for joining us and thank you for listening to stay on the tech marketing podcast.

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