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Survey identifies channel management trends

The International Quality and Productivity Center recently announced the findings of its channel management best practices and channel management strategy survey at its fourth annual Channel Management Summit in Los Angeles.

The study was conducted in order to get a snapshot of the most important channel program components and the greatest pressures facing the industry. Additionally, use of social media outlets and return on investment was also surveyed.

More than two-thirds of the respondents reported overhauling their channel programs every six to 12 months in order to keep their channel strategies current and avoid practicing outdated methods. When asked which components were most important for a channel program to be successful, choosing the right partner was the most popular answer, followed by route to market and innovation. Respondents also identified enabling partner success, relationship ROI, production and consistency in policies, programs, message and information as important aspects.

Just over half of companies surveyed said that they or their channel partners are actively using social media outlets as part of their channel management marketing strategies, and half reported not tracking the ROI of their social media efforts. Using a web analytics program was the most popular way of determining ROI and the effectiveness of using social media, followed by eyeballing the number of followers, friends, likes etc., as well as the volume of customer comments.

According to Brooke Cunningham, vice president of worldwide marketing for CA Technologies, social media sites can be used to strengthen the relationship between vendor and partner by allowing more frequent communication.

“It’s not just push marketing anymore,” said Cunningham, according to eChannelLine. “It’s a conversation, and it’s much more powerful because of the level of engagement. And, as an additional benefit, it’s a very cost effective marketing medium.”

The survey found that companies source new channel partners in a number of ways including word of mouth, corporate sourcing, direct engagement, customer references, referrals, targeted recruitment, internet-based searches and market analyst firms.

Nearly two-thirds of of respondents measured the success of their channel partners by the revenue they generated, and the other responses were split between business model and goals, using a specific scorecard, examining customer value or a combination of metrics.

When asked to identify the single biggest challenge in channel marketing efforts aside from budget and resources, more than three-quarters of respondents cited the pressure to maintain and increase sales revenue. Direct competition between internal sales and resellers was also mentioned, as well as keeping a pragmatic view of channel partners.