Selecting the right metrics to optimize the ROI of Channel Incentive Programs

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1 Selecting the right metrics to optimize the ROI of Channel Incentive Programs The quest for ROI supporting channel programs has never been greater. Various incentives offered at every level of the demand chain to influence behavior at each phase of the transaction represent a large portion of the overall channel budget. The broad range of incentive programs offered by vendors including MDF, Rebates, SPIFs, end user purchase incentives, and even deal registration makes the challenge of isolating the effectiveness of any one program seem daunting. This ebook is designed for channel marketers as a guide to select and report on the appropriate metrics to use as a foundation for launching new programs, or optimizing existing programs. ebook from CCI Global Channel Management

2 2 Contents 3... Introduction 4... What Is an Incentive Program? 5... Some of the Challenges Associated with Tracking ROI 6... Determining the Proper Metrics 7... Strategic vs. Tactical 8... Leading vs. Trailing Indicators of Program Success 8... Reported Data vs. Behavioral Data 9... Quantitative Metrics, Qualitative Insights Snapshot Reports vs. Trend Reporting 12 Putting It All Together: Evaluating Program Success 14 Conclusion

3 3 Introduction A recent proprietary survey identified measuring ROI on channel incentive programs as the number one initiative for channel marketers in the vendor community. Despite the new generation of program management software including robust CRM/PRM systems and BI technologies the goal of determining true program ROI seems as elusive as ever. Most channel programs are a series of Carrot and Stick propositions to influence channel behavior, and the broad range of incentive programs offered by vendors as a carrot make it difficult to isolate the effects of any one program on overall channel performance. While the technology for administering and measuring these programs is improving, it has to be remembered that technology is only a tool technology is no substitute for a well-thought-out program strategy followed by flawless execution. Deciding what to track in advance, and how to report the information throughout the program s lifecycle is an integral part of the design process. In addition to the metrics themselves, the source of data has to be determined as well as the reporting formats. Armed with this insight, success criteria will be well defined, and you will be armed with the ability to make adjustments at each phase to keep the program on track. Therefore, the chances for overall program success will be higher. This ebook is intended to provide a number of considerations for designing and evaluating channel incentive programs any one of which can make a big impact on helping to assess the effectiveness of current programs, while helping to ensure optimal ROI in the future. In aggregate, the considerations presented herein represent the best practices for channel program design and evaluation. Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted. - Albert Einstein

4 4 What is an incentive program? Channel programs are essentially a series of carrot and stick propositions intended to optimize sales performance from your channel community. As the carrot in this equation, incentive programs represent a broad range programs designed to reward and influence various behaviors throughout the demand chain as indicated below: in cen tive [in-sen-tiv] noun Something that incites action or promotes greater effort - a reward offered for increased productivity. Incentive Program Co-op/MDF Funding Deal Registration Sales Performance Rebate SPIF Purchase Rebate Desired Behavior Advertising, Marketing, and Promotion Hunting for new sales opportunities Attaining/exceeding period sales goals company focus Reward for selling specific products sales rep focus Reward for buying product purchaser directed Incentives are about motivating a broad range of behaviors -They re not just about rewarding sales performance

5 5 Some of the challenges associated with tracking ROI: Incentive programs can consume 15% to 50% of your total budget, yet it is difficult to assess real ROI of any one program. This is due to one or more of the following challenges facing channel marketers today: Too much data: Lack of focus on appropriate metrics for each program Disparate sources of data program data is inaccessible, or located across several systems Multiple programs are offered to channel partners making it difficult to isolate the effectiveness of any one program Channel programs are getting more complex, offered to a broader global base, and are being used by a reseller community with increasingly diverse business models To help address these challenges, this ebook will begin with some key considerations that will help marketers assess which metrics are important and how they can be applied throughout the lifecycle of any given program.

6 6 Determining the Proper Metrics Deciding what to track in advance and how to report the information is an integral part of the design process. In addition to the information itself, the source of data has to be determined as well as the reporting formats within the design process itself(rather than trying to back into this information post-launch). With the goals and metrics defined and armed with the ability to track the program s process at each phase, you will be able to make timely adjustments as necessary. Program goals and associated metrics should consider some or all of the following: Corporate Value Directly link program objectives into overall business and financial objectives Improve resource allocation Validate the accountability of your program investment to key stakeholders Improve decision process to drive effectiveness and efficiency Enable financial controls Evaluate relative differences in performance between programs, territories, and partners Partner Value Identify habits of top performers as a basis for best practices Promote program value to channel partners through: Improved topline growth Attracting new customers Increasing transaction value Increased customer engagement frequency

7 7 Strategic vs. Tactical Selecting the appropriate metrics for your program begins with an understanding of both the strategic program goals and tactical measures that contribute to the attainment of those program goals. All program objectives should have clear quantifiable goals, as well as a key understanding of all the components that will contribute to the program s success across its lifetime. Strategic Metrics: The metrics that management cares most about include: Business objectives: which align with the CEO s growth agenda that initiated the need for the program, and Program objectives: which address the goals attributed to a specific incentive program that will help achieve the business objectives. Armed with the above information, the tactical metrics reflect all those individual requirements influence on program success, and are the basis for establishing best-practices improving future efforts. Enrollment Which partners enrolled in the program? White didn t enroll? What percentage of partners that qualify are actually enrolled? Note any variations by sales region/territory Level of Participation Number of new deals opened by partner per month MDF utilization rates Number of claims received by partner Average sales or rewards by participant and by region Administration Program costs vs. plan Approval and payment SLAs Partner support requirements

8 8 Leading vs. Trailing Indicators of Program Success Trailing indicators report on the past, however, identifying the leading indicators help provide insight at a point that you can influence future outcome, such as during enrollment processes or using prior approval forms in the case of MDF or co-op programs. Program Type Leading Indicators Trailing Indicators SPIF Program Number of Pre-Registrations Claims Received Co-op/MDF Number of Funding Requests Received, Value & Focus Claims Received, Amount Paid Deal Registration New Registrations Received Opportunities Won Reported Data vs. Behavioral Data Reported data provides data based on beliefs and intentions. Conversely, behavioral data bases metrics on actual performance. Of the two, behavioral data is the most accurate. However, there are times when reported data is the only option that is readily available and often reported data is better than no data. For example, questionnaires attached to registration forms for new partners or partner employees (such as sales reps) may be used as a foundation to initially qualify and segment your audience. Question Reported Behavioral What is your industry focus? Best guess based on information as provided in JMP process Analysis of deal registration closed and/or POS analysis

9 9 Quantitative Metrics, Qualitative Insights Quantitative metrics address the measurable characteristics of a program s performance (and the primary focus for this ebook). However, qualitative feedback gathered from those stakeholders ultimately responsible for the success can often be equally insightful, and often more so. This insight should be obtained by both internal audiences (such as Channel Account Managers) and partners targeted for program participation. Insight can be obtained in the form of surveys (especially open-ended questionnaires), interviews, focus groups, or direct feedback from help desks or online forms. In any instance, the process for gathering needn t be so formal often two to five informal conversations can yield insight that would greatly improve program performance. Pre-launch, previewing the program with key partners and internal stakeholders will help provide an understanding of program receptivity Post-launch, informal interviews are helpful to solicit ideas for further improvement. How qualitative insights can be used to improve program performance: 1. Program perceptions and perceived receptivity by key stakeholders in advance of launch or post launch 2. Insight to improve programs and processes over time by uncovering problem areas and bottlenecks 3. Assess why key partners didn t participate or underperformed vs. expectations 4. Also used as an informal method of pre-testing program concepts and associated administration

10 10 Snapshot Reports vs. Trend Reporting Snapshot reports present key information at a point in time, such as period-to-date. Conversely, trend reports represent changes in status of a key metric over time. This is particularly useful if any one program has several stages or can benefit from continual enhancements.

11 11 Putting It All Together: Evaluating Program Success

12 12 Evaluating Program Success There are typically three ways to evaluate the program s success. Each may be used individually, or in combination to evaluate the effectiveness of any incentive program. 1. Program Performance vs. Goals (Target) Assuming the processes outlined in this document were followed, goals were established at the program s inception and reporting has been monitored throughout the period, assessment is as simple as evaluating program performance versus goal. Assuming all the tactical goals were identified in advance also, one can more easily establish which critical components of the program succeeded or failed. 2. Calculating Sales Lift Calculating sales lift over sales that otherwise would have occurred if the program wasn t implemented has always been the goal of channel marketers. Doing so requires a comparison between both a Test and Control group of partners. The Test group represents those resellers who have participated in the program, and the Control group represents a similar group of resellers who haven t participated in the program. To improve the accuracy of this evaluation the following conditions should exist between both groups: Methodology for selecting both groups should be consistent to isolate the variance between the two, only to the program in question all other characteristics of the resellers in either group should be as similar as possible, including: profile, geography, sales, participation in other programs, etc. Test and Control groups should be as large as possible aggregating control groups helps to reduce statistical uncertainties resellers in each group will generally yield a reasonably accurate evaluation depending on the size of your reseller population. For shorter-term promotions, sales should be analyzed before, during, and after the promotion period to truly understand the impact of outside trends that may affect sales (economy, seasonality, competitive conditions, etc.). The duration of the sales to be measured pre-and post-program depends upon your sales cycle. Consumer products with short sales and high purchase frequencies can often assess an effective baseline with as little as one week s worth of sales data. B2B products with longer sales cycles will typically require one to three months of data to establish a base.

13 13 Evaluating Program Success 3. Return on Investment Return on Marketing Investment = (Value of Incremental Sales COGS) Marketing Investment Marketing Investment = Award Costs + MarCom + Administration In this case, the value of incremental sales would be derived by calculating the sales lift as described in the prior section. Once calculated, subtract the Cost of Goods Sold for those products to arrive at a figure for Gross profit. Once the gross profit is calculated, divide that figure by your marketing investment to create, launch, and manage the program including any additional costs for communications. The resulting index will yield a percentage return on your marketing investment.

14 14 Conclusion Incentive programs of various types are a staple of your channel program. There are many reasons for running incentive programs that should be considered over and above calculated return on investment, including improving channel relationships, jump-starting sales of new products and services, attracting new partners with compelling programs, and many more. This is why we are recommending a broader base of metrics than simple calculation of return on marketing investment. The real keys to optimizing program ROI are: Understanding the objectives of each of your programs and defining quantifiable goals accordingly. Understanding all the strategies and tactics required to achieve those objectives, and assigning goals and metrics for those as well (such as goals for participation, engagement, communication, and administration). Defining the source of information to track all the above activity. Making each stakeholder aware of his or her contribution, and providing reports to keep all aware of their progress against goal. Using quantitative and qualitative insights at each phase of the program to create a list of best practices to help current programs evolve and provide the foundation to develop new programs in the future. About CCI CCI delivers comprehensive incentive solutions to optimize sales channel performance. As an enterprise software and services solutions provider, CCI enables channel marketers to manage and measure sales and marketing incentive programs throughout their demand chain, resulting in greater spending efficiency and improved program effectiveness. CCI provides a combination of on-demand software, professional services, and program management. CCI s Professional Services team applies best practices to define and deploy programs that meet your business goals. Equally powerful is CCI s software. Delivered as SaaS, CCI automates your channel programs and partner activity for increased visibility, measurement, and ROI. Once deployed, CCI Program Management delivers services such as contact center support, auditing, and payment services to ensure program operational efficiencies. CCI helps many of the most successful companies in the world turn their channel programs into a key competitive advantage. For more information, visit channelmanagement.com or subscribe to the Channel Champion blog.

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