10 Minute Partner Quarterly Marketing Plan, Calendar, Budget, Lead Forecast & ROI – Part B

A channel marketer’s dream… a detailed quarterly partner marketing plan you can believe in, complete with goals and strategies, budget, lead and revenue forecast, and an ROI calculated in 10-20 minutes. With channel planning and modelling tools available today, this is not only possible but strongly recommended. In fact, if you are a channel marketer responsible for supporting, funding and approving marketing programs from your partner community, you should be using tools like this to review and approve partner marketing plans that are more likely to generate a strong return on your channel marketing investment.

How quarterly marketing planning and calculating tools can be deployed:

These 10-20 minute quarterly partner marketing planning tools can be deployed in two different methods

  1. As part of a 10-20 minute annual / quarterly business planning process:quarterly business planning processThis option allows a partner to create a comprehensive 36 month business plan including a revenue forecast (units and $), set business goals, strategies, and a full profitability forecast for their business.  This is followed by the option to create individual quarterly marketing plans, budgets and forecasts that support the achievement of the partner business plan.
  2. As a separate quarterly marketing planning process only:quarterly business planning process2

This option allows partners to easily create quarterly marketing plans as needed without having to create detailed business plans. They can go directly to the marketing planning process and select the fiscal quarter, define activities and tactic details, and model different marketing program options to yield a customized plan, budget, and forecast for the selected quarter.

Channel Marketing Dilemma – How to Allocate Limited Funds to the Partners Most Likely to Succeed:

Partners for most mid-sized to larger technology companies are eligible for some level of marketing and incentive co-funding through various programs (e.g., MDF, Coop, BDF, discretionary programs, incentive programs, etc.).  These programs generally take three different forms:

  1. Accrual Based:Earned marketing monies on a straight percentage of license sales. Few vendors offer this type of program because it is not performance-based. 
  2. Proposal-Based MDF:Monies allocated based on the merits of the partner proposal and their track record with generating growth.
  3. Coop / proposal based MDF:Monies allocated on a joint (vendor / partner) funding model based on the partner proposal & track record.

The larger percentage of channel funds being allocated use methods 2 and 3, so channel executives must have a scalable, efficient and effective process to evaluate the merits of hundreds or thousands of partner funding requests.   These scalable partner marketing calculator tools allow partners to create strong and confident plans that accurately estimate the impact an investment in marketing will have in generating new sales opportunities and revenue for the brand.

How Quarterly Partner Marketing Calculators Work to Streamline This Process:

If a channel organization has both the 10 minute business planning and marketing calculator deployed, they can enable all of the following steps efficiently and effectively across their entire channel network:

  1. 10 Minute Business Plan: Create a 36 month plan and start simulation of alternatives
  2. 10 Minute Marketing Plan: Create quarterly activities, tactics, budget, lead & revenue forecast and ROI and simulate alternatives
  3. Submission to the MDF / BDF System: Streamlined quarterly plan submission process
  4. Execute the Marketing Program: Support with executing the plan
  5. Measure Program Performance: An integrated performance management process as programs are completed

Unified MDF Program Management System

Ten minute marketing calculators make it easy for partners to quickly create marketing plans like experts.   They guide a partner though a simple process of refining the list size, defining the type and quantity of tactics and automatically calculating a lead “waterfall” forecast.  The waterfall forecast starts with responders from the marketing activities that convert to leads, to sales accepted leads, to proposals, to closes sales and ROI.  Partners can simulate many different combinations of plans instantly to create one that fits both their budget and their desired return on investment.


These calculators allow partners to develop realistic forecasts for what they can expect from different marketing plans.   Ultimately, partners and vendors are looking to gain more confidence in their marketing investments by building more reliable and predictable forecasts. Vendors also have a much more objective and predictable process to evaluate and select which partner marketing investments to fund.

Vendors can generate a much better return on investment and prioritize where to allocate their precious channel marketing dollars to generate the best outcomes.

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Seven Methods to Get Partners to Want to Do Joint Business Planning

Every vendor that sells though an indirect channel is looking to gain commitments from their partners to invest in the growth of their brand.  One of the most important steps in motivating partners to invest in your brand is implementing an annual joint planning process and quarterly business review.  The problem with most channel planning processes is that they are designed for the vendor needs and rarely consider the things that partner’s value in the business relationship.

Below is a summary of requirements for a partner planning and performance management system designed for high partner participation and motivation.  This system provides channel chiefs, channel ops, CAM’s, channel marketing, and channel IT with the tools to manage a high performance growth channel.

Overall Channel Planning System Design Success Principles:

The Hard Part:  Getting partners to willingly participate

  1. Partner must see value to earnestly participate: Partners need to get immediate value from participating in a vendor-requested planning process to motivate them to provide thoughtful input into their individual plan.
  2. Partner value can take many forms: Partners will value profitability modelling, opportunities to earn more money, and additional earned benefits (i.e., financial, support, recognition, gamification, and enablement support) from participating in the requested planning process
  3. Give partners “something to disagree with” in the planning process: At every stage of the partner planning process, partners are looking for examples, sample forecasts, draft goals and strategies, and typical inputs to get them started defining a plan that they believe in.
  4. Partner customization at all levels: Partners are looking for a vendor’s recommendations along with the ability to modify these inputs based on their local market experience.
  5. Partners want to model different outcomes instantly: Partners are looking to model the impact of different strategies on their business performance and profitability.  Any well-designed partner planning system must allow for instant P&L, resources and cash flow modelling tools.
  6. Provide ability for partners to create a first draft plan in 10 minutes: Define a partner’s planning process so that it can be created with the fewest number of clicks possible selecting from recommended / calculated values to create the first draft.
  7. Provide imbedded calculators to help partner’s model outcomes: Integrate the ability to calculate different outcomes for different plan elements:
    • Required staffing calculator
    • Cash flow, margin & profitability calculator
    • Marketing budget, lead & revenue forecast, and ROI calculator

The Easier Part:   Creating the channel chief dashboard

Delivering a planning system designed to motivate partners to participate is relatively easy task.  Once the partner monthly goals for units and dollars are defined and agreed upon, preparing a channel chief dashboard is relatively straightforward, including:

  1. Monthly partner-level goals by product or solution area
  2. Partner level monthly performance-to-plan summaries
  3. A rollup of partner performance-to-plan by partner, by channel account manager, band by region
  4. A partner profile / assessment of key characteristics by quarter (e.g., competencies, staffing, market coverage, vertical focus, brands sold, etc.)
  5. A dashboard that also fully integrates into CRM for system-of-record management

Below is a specification of a partner-focused channel planning system designed to maximize partner participation, and also get channel chiefs the reports they are looking for.  It is organized by key planning system user to ensure active participation and useful plans that partners believe in.


Designing your channel planning system to meet partner’s needs first and foremost will yield high participation rate, more meaningful numbers and better channel chief reporting.   Your partners want to participate, if the process considers what they value and helps them build more confidence in investing in your brand.

The Reimagined 10 Minute Partner Quarterly Business Review (QBR)

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:  

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Partner commitment: Participation in a well-defined QBR process builds partner commitment  by highlighting successes-to-date and mapping improvements for achieving greater growth.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

QBR Reports

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:
  1. By quarter
  2. By units and dollars
  3. By month
  4. By partner
  5. Roll up by CAM
  6. Roll up by region (e.g., East, Central, West)
  7. 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.):
    1. By category (group of topics)
    2. By topic
    3. Each scored on a 1-100 basis
    4. Comparison of partner with peers
    5. Quarterly goal setting by topic
    6. Performance-to-plan reporting
    7. 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:
    1. By partner
    2. By quarter
    3. Or by program
    4. Leads vs. goal
    5. Pipeline vs. goal
    6. Revenue vs. goal
    7. 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.

Performance to Plan

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.

Scorecard Report

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.

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Whitepaper on Awarding Your Resellers

Awarding your channel resellers with the right compensation, margin, and incentives will have a significant impact on the sales productivity of your indirect channel. Resellers know that they play in competitive markets where price competition is the common battleground. They are balancing their desire to generate new sales while generating a reasonable margin… just like you are. This whitepaper is designed to help channel executives and your channel resellers cut the right balance between competitive pricing and attractive product margins. It features practices, tools, strategies, and approaches to plan, manage, measure and reward your channel resellers for selling and servicing your target customers with your products.


Awarding your channel resellers with healthy profit margins starts with a strong plan. The adage of “plan-your-work and work-your-plan” is relevant for channel resellers. If they don’t have a plan, they don’t know what they are shooting for and have no compass to guide their decision-making process throughout the year. Helping resellers plan more effectively can improve their chances of success and build interest and preference for your brand. Consider offering reseller business planning workshops, and provide planning tools to help them define a customized plan for their business to guide success.

Elements of a Well-Designed Reseller Planning Toolkit:

  • Local Market Analysis: Provide tools to help resellers define the local market size, number and profile of target customers, and a target list development strategy.
  • SWOT: Provide tools to help resellers identify their own strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities to guide their market plan
  • Positioning: Provide tools to help define their target market (unique group), frame of reference (what their solution replaces), and point of difference (what makes them unique to that target)
  • Goal Setting: Provide templates for SMART goal setting (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound)
  • Performance Measurement: Provide resellers with tools and methods to help them track their progress in achieving their goals (# and size of deals, gross margin, net margin, ROI, etc.)

Download the rest of this whitepaper here to learn more about awarding your channel resellers.

Partner Marketing Planning, Budgeting, Forecasting, and ROI Calculator (Part A)

An efficient, scalable, easy-to-use, and effective partner marketing budgeting and forecasting tool has always seemed just out or reach for most channel executives.Every channel chief can share their favorite “dog eared” Excel planning workbooks, MS Word planning templates, and planning forms included in CRM and PRM systems but they never seem to fulfill the need for partner-friendly tools that provide the vendor with the measurable commitment forecasts they seek. The problem is that they are not built with an eye toward meeting the needs of the many users that will interact with individual partner plans.
The best place to start designing your more effective partner marketing planning, budgeting and ROI calculating tool is with the vendor and partner users of these plans and their individual needs.

Partner Marketing Plan Users & there Needs

Most vendor-required partner marketing and MDF approval processes used in the indirect channel are very much weighted to the vendor needs and only secondarily to the partner needs. But it does not have to be like that. Vendors can get the unit and dollar commitment forecasts they are looking for in an auditable format while also providing tools to help partners simulate alternative plans and outcomes and help them come up with an optimal marketing mix that they can believe in. The most successful channel marketing planning and forecasting processes are those where all participants and users get what they need and motivate them to happily participate. Partners can create quick (3-5 minute) marketing plans, budgets and ROI forecasts and can then simulate different tactic options. Vendors get consistent, measurable and comparable plans and forecasts across all partners that they can easily evaluate for approval of MDF co-funding decisions.
The first step in designing your partner marketing & MDF planning, budgeting, forecasting and approval process is to set expectations for goals and outcomes for these marketing investments. Realistically, partners can generate three different types of outcomes with their use of MDF / marketing funds. The vast majority of MDF programs operate on a co-funding basis where the vendor will cover a percentage of the cost if the partner provides the other percentage of the cost (e.g., 25:75, 50:50, 75:25). During the planning and funding request process, partners are required to establish goals for the use of these co-funded MDF dollars. Below is a typical breakdown of the three categories of goals for partner MDF programs.
Channel MDF
Business development is the most measurable MDF investment based on new revenue generated and ROI per dollar spent. The objective of business development-focused MDF is to generate responders, leads, qualified opportunities, proposals and closed deals. Business development MDF is the easiest to justify if the appropriate performance measurement processes are in place. Market awareness is a very important part of the marketing mix to help partners establish their market reputation as a thought leader / recognized vendor in their local market. The direct measures of views, impressions, likes, etc. are the best indication of return on investment. MDF-influenced revenue is much more difficult to prove unless you can associate recent buyers with exposure to these awareness tactics. Finally, capability MDF expenditures are typically viewed as investments for the future. Equipping your partners with training, demo units staff and other enablement tools provides them with the ability to generate and deliver more revenue for your business.
Setting up a process for managing partner planning, budgeting, MDF request & approval, and performance measurement includes five key steps.
Five Key Steps for a Unified Marketing Calculator and MDF Administration Process:
1)12-36 month partner business plans
2)Q1 – Q4 partner marketing plans
3)Marketing assessment & approval
4)Marketing plan execution
5)Performance to plan analysis
These five steps all fit together in the following business workflow.
Program Management System
The marketing calculator is part of an integrated workflow for partner business planning, partner marketing planning, MDF submission, review approval and disbursement process, and partner performance. The first step for a partner and the assigned Channel Account Manager (CAM) is to create a business growth and profitability plan.
The partner business planning process is designed to help a partner create a 3 year monthly growth and profitability forecast in as little as 10 minutes. The purpose of this first step is to gain confidence and commitment from partners to invest in growing the vendor’s brand. This will set the partner’s path for achieving accelerated growth and define the staffing and expense investments for supporting this plan.

10 Minutes Partner Planning

10 Minutes Partner

Within this partner planning and P&L building process, there is a step to select marketing tactics, define the options, and calculate the budget, forecast, and ROI for each scenario that is created. This marketing calculator helps a partner to define their goals and recommend the appropriate tactics that match these goals. It then allows a partner to select the quantity and the specific tactic type and will automatically generate a recommended budget, lead, and revenue forecast and ROI for this marketing plan. Plus, it allows a partner to change virtually any variable in the plan and recalculate the budget, lead forecast, revenue and ROI instantly.
3-5 Minutes Planning
These tools allow all parties to get what they are looking for.
Partners: They get a tool to guide them with the selection of tactics that align with their goals and will create sales leads, a revenue forecast, budget, and ROI that they can believe in.
Vendors: Vendors can guide their partners toward tactics that are known to generate higher revenue and ROI. Each partner that completes this marketing plan and forecast can use it as a business case / ROI for an MDF co-funding request from the vendor. The vendor is then provided with a stronger ROI case to co-invest in the partner’s marketing plan.
Marketing budget, forecast and ROI calculators can play a vital role in encouraging partners to increase their investment in marketing and related enablement activities. It also provides vendors a stronger justification for co-investing in these partners demand generation programs. Ultimately it will build confidence from both parties and improve the likelihood of generating incremental revenue growth for all at a strong ROI.
Look forward to the second installment of this article (Part B: A Turn-Key MDF Planning, Forecasting, Approval, Validation and Performance Management System for Channel Marketing).

Coming Soon…

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