Quarterly Business Reviews (QBRs) are one of the most important – and difficult and inefficient -processes used by your indirect channel team. They are critical to building a strong and growing relationship between the vendor and the partner. But they are also anxiety-producing for the partner receiving the review and the Channel Account Manager (CAM) that has to prepare and deliver the review.
What it feels like for Channel Account Managers and Partners during a QBR
Smart channel organizations need to find ways to take the anxiety out of preparing and delivering QBRs and turn them into confidence-building processes for both the CAM and the partner executive. QBRs should be streamlined so the CAM can focus more on strategies to build the partner’s growth plan and commitment to the brand, and less on data gathering and report generation. Below is a summary of why QBRs are so critical to a healthy channel and why they are so difficult to pull together.
Why QBRs are so critical:
- Measuring stick: A well-defined performance-to-plan analysis provides a partner with a good understanding of where they are on their journey to greater profitability. QBRs are critical to help partners confirm that they are achieving what is expected of them.
- Scorecard: A scorecard is designed to track the full range of partner success dimensions including marketing capabilities, sales training, product support readiness, market coverage, and a number of other metrics. A scorecard process helps keep the partner on track to build the required capabilities to succeed with your brand.
- Partner commitment: Participation in a well-defined QBR process builds partner commitment by highlighting successes-to-date and mapping improvements for achieving greater growth.
- Partner engagement / activation: QBRs keep a vendor’s brand top-of-mind and serves to further engage and activate the partner’s selling and support efforts.
- Relationship building: QBRs are a tangible expression that the vendor and the CAM care about the success of the partner and leads to a stronger and longer-term relationship.
Why QBR’s are so inefficient for most channel organizations:
- Not predesigned for CAMs: A typical vendor’s partner QBR process is not prepared, packaged, and delivered in a ready-to-go format to CAMs. As a result, the QBR process is left up to the CAM to design the report, research and consolidate all the required data, and pull it together on their own, yielding an inconsistent and very inefficient process across the channel organization.
- Not designed for partner consultation process: Because QBRs are typically created and delivered on an ad hoc basis that varies widely from CAM to CAM, they are not as effective as a consultative meeting with the partner to build confidence, commitment and investment in your brand.
- Lack of available data: Unfortunately for most channel organizations, systems are not designed to make the required data easily available. As a result, fewer partners receive QBRs less frequently than they should.
- Lack of accurate data: Because of the imperfect systems available in the indirect channel, often the data that is available is either incomplete or inaccurate yielding an ineffective QBR.
- Too labor intensive: The manual processes required for producing a typical QBR takes the CAM out of the field for long periods and reduces the overall productivity of the CAM organization.
What if we reimagined / reinvented the Channel Partner QBR so that all of the inefficiencies were designed out of the process? What if we created a QBR process that allowed a CAM to deliver a review that helped address all of the critical dimensions above for improving partner commitment levels and engaged many more partners in your organization’s channel network? If we removed all barriers to achieving this goal, then this newly designed, streamlined and effective QBR process would look something like this:
Imagine a CAM that is responsible for 40 individual partners / resellers has the ability to instantly create a summary quarterly report with all the above metrics prepared. In addition to this, all the supporting reports (e.g., sales by month, by product, performance-to-plan, detailed scorecards and marketing ROI) can come from the same dashboard. With the click of the mouse a partner can generate this unified report automatically pulling plan data, actual data, scorecard data, and marketing performance data into one summary template.
Imagine a Channel Account Manager Dashboard console giving them the ability to generate all elements of their QBR instantly for their partner organization. By simply clicking on the appropriate tab, they can pull pre-defined reports to support all of the following analyses:
Elements of a Well-Defined Channel Partner QBR:
- Five Minute Performance-to-Plan Section: A partner-level reporting section combines planning data and compares it to actual sales data at all of the following levels:
- By quarter
- By units and dollars
- By month
- By partner
- Roll up by CAM
- Roll up by region (e.g., East, Central, West)
- Roll up by super-region (e.g., Americas, APJ, etc.)
- Five Minute Scorecard Performance-to-Plan Section: A partner-level scorecard section that is updated by the partner each quarter in 2-4 minutes. A questionnaire format is provided to partners to update their performance on a range of scorecard dimensions (e.g., marketing readiness, cloud readiness, pre-sales readiness, sales readiness, support readiness, etc.):
- By category (group of topics)
- By topic
- Each scored on a 1-100 basis
- Comparison of partner with peers
- Quarterly goal setting by topic
- Performance-to-plan reporting
- All by partner, by CAM, by region, & by super region
- Marketing ROI Section: A partner-level marketing performance reporting system designed to report by quarter or by marketing program executed:
- By partner
- By quarter
- Or by program
- Leads vs. goal
- Pipeline vs. goal
- Revenue vs. goal
- ROI vs. goal
This unifying “Channel Account Dashboard” is designed to put all the critical partner-level performance data at a CAM’s fingertips so they can focus on building relationships and growth strategies, instead of spending all their time building reports and researching data. This CAM dashboard system also provides Channel Chief-level reporting across all participating partners, CAMs and regions.
What do these QBR reports look like? These pre-packaged, partner-level reports can be accessed at a CAM Dashboard where plan data and actual data have been merged to illustrate performance to plan by partner at many levels.
Single Partner Quarterly Performance-to-Plan Report: This report highlights quarterly performance for of plan vs. actual performance.
Single Partner Scorecard Report: This report displays a partner’s latest scores for each scorecard metric along with goals and target dates that have been created by the partner.
A QBR process that standardizes and automates the development, delivery, and overall channel performance management processes will make your channel team happy and motivated to drive more business for your brand. These kind of tools show your team that you are fighting for their success by providing resources to help them do their jobs more effectively.