Regardless of whether you are an economic optimist or pessimist, we all recognize we are looking at a very uncertain 2023. How will this uncertainty affect the Channel and how do we need to change and evolve our programs to better enable our partners?

This is exactly what I spoke about with a stellar panel of channel leaders during our Channel Focus Webinar on Thursday, Nov. 17. I was joined by panelists Pat Carroll, Managing Director of Bridge Partners, Kenneth Fox, CEO of Channel Mechanics, Dave Taylor, CMO of Impartner and Richard Flynn, Partner & CMO of Spur Reply.

The lively discussion focused on how channel organizations can better plan and prepare for whatever challenges or opportunities are ahead in 2023. However, from where I sit, and after many conversations with channel leaders and decision-makers across the spectrum, three major themes to the conversation about 2023 jump out to drive successful partner program success in 2023 simplicity, automation, and ROI measurement.

Simplify Everything:

Many companies still struggle with effectively managing channel programs and channel growth due to the complexity of the channel ecosystem. The struggle is compounded by reluctance to adopt new technologies or change old processes. In uncertain times, channel organizations must be nimble and pivot towards simplicity, which may require leveraging new (but powerful) tools. By streamlining processes and communications, from modifying MDF guidelines and rewards programs qualifications to bigger lifts like automating TCMA, MDF, Incentives and Rebate, all of these changes make it easier for partners to access the resources they need to drive revenue in 2023.

Automate Everything:

The idea that a bad program will still be a bad program with or without automation has been an excuse not to automate for years. Companies can’t wait any longer. There is no other way to get the data you need in the time you need, in a way you need it, without automating everything. Instead of asking if you should automate, everyone should be asking how automation can be better integrated. With APIs and SSOs, we should be able to get the data where we need it for vendors and partners. Partners should now be able to get enhanced reporting like a single partner benefits summary report to see the real investment from their vendors, and vendors should be able to pull all the data they need from their TCMA, MDF, Incentives and PRM into their internal data systems (Tableau, Qlik, BI, etc.). But, to make this work, it all must be automated, otherwise we remain in siloed environments where data is disparate and accurate reports are near impossible.

The automated integration of all data into one central location makes it easy to track progress and spot patterns. And most importantly, automation enables data-driven decision making, which is essential for optimizing your channel marketing strategy.

Measure Everything:

Simply achieving single ROI growth is not enough. To be truly successful, vendors need to ensure that their ROI is measuring channel partner activities actions and results from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom. By tracking ROI at each stage of the funnel, vendors can ensure that partners are making the most efficient use of their investment in MDF, Incentives and demand generation. Automation across the channel tech stack is the best way – really the only way – to make that happen.

It’s not easy to achieve ROI, but without purposeful measurement you will never be able to achieve superior, decision-grade data that can show multiple ROIs. This insight gives vendors the ability to sell internally on the success of their channel investment and create the necessary success case studies to promote back to partners to drive engagement and truly influence behavior modification.

Many more insights were unveiled during the webinar discussion, and I always enjoy spirited debate with industry leaders. However, one thing was abundantly clear and agreed upon– uncertainty and volatility often breeds creativity and resilience. The channel has been through similar macro-economic headwinds before, but at no other time have we had the tools and solutions to make weathering the storm more achievable.

If you happened to have missed the live version, you can watch the Channel Focus webinar HERE.