How Channel Partners Can Use Data to Find Business Opportunities

Data analytics has reshaped how businesses today operate. A growing wealth of digital data and tools that make sense of it have provided businesses with deeper, more accurate insights into their customers and operations than ever before.

All this data and the tools to make sense of it hold substantial potential for channel partners. With the right approach, channel companies can use data to find promising new business opportunities. Here’s how.

1. Segment Customer Demographics

The first way channel partners can use data is to segment their customer base. Most companies understand how segmentation can improve marketing efficacy, but it can also reveal potential new markets. Data analytics on current clientele, other users, and competitors’ markets can reveal untapped or underutilized segments and previously unnoticed opportunities.

As channel companies segment their customer demographics, they can compare potential new markets. Analyzing competition and demand in other segments can reveal if investing in one market may yield more results than another. Similarly, these insights can guide tailored strategies for these new segments. Performing this research early can result in more effective marketing.

2. Analyze Sales Performance and Trends

Channel partners can also use data to reveal trends in their past and current sales. Information, like when sales peak or dip, can highlight which strategies are the most and least effective. Companies can then use this data to create more effective promotions, following seasonal and long-term trends to adapt to changing markets.

Data over past trends can also reveal insights into the future. Some artificial intelligence (AI) stock trading software can predict stock movements with 60% accuracy when a 51% success rate is excellent. In the more predictable world of customer behavior, similar programs can lead to remarkably accurate market shift forecasts.

3. Determine Potential Partners’ Value

Of course, business opportunities for channel partners include more than just new customer markets and trends. These companies can also use data to analyze potential new partners, determining how profitable their partnerships may be. These insights can help businesses make better strategic decisions, helping them capitalize on the highest-performing partners.

Data can reveal what’s most important in a partner to channel companies, whether that’s ROI, cash flow, capitalization of earnings, or something else. With all of this information in one place, these businesses can build better partnerships.

Also read: Best Partner Relationship Management (PRM) Software 2021

What Data Tools Can Channel Partners Use?

These use cases hold substantial potential for channel partners, but some obstacles remain. While data analytics has seen considerable adoption across multiple industries, its use among channel companies remains relatively low. These businesses often lack the experience or resources necessary to implement data analytics, or so it seems.

Cost is indeed a barrier for many in data analytics, but not all solutions are prohibitively expensive. Similarly, many tools today don’t require extensive data science experience to use effectively. As the data market has grown, these solutions have become more accessible.

Here are six types of tools that suit channel partners’ needs, goals, and resources.

1. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is the most comprehensive type of sales and marketing data solution. These platforms record and consolidate customer history and interactions, letting users track past and emerging trends and optimize their marketing strategies. By putting all of these features in one place, CRM software can make data-based customer management far easier, too.

Despite CRM’s utility, only 23% of small businesses use these tools, likely because many can get expensive. However, many newer solutions have emerged tailored to smaller companies and offering lower prices. ActiveCampaign, Freshsales, and Pipedrive, for example, all offer budget-friendly CRM tools, some even with limited free features.

Reporting has also become easier in CRM tools too, allowing users to analyze data and create custom views that can identify new opportunities.

2. Self-service Business Intelligence (BI) Software

Another type of data tool channel partners can use is business intelligence (BI) software. BI platforms help visualize company data, revealing potential growth opportunities. While many companies use these tools to measure performance benchmarks, they can also reveal opportunities like underutilized sales tactics or promising untapped markets.

Traditional BI platforms require coding and data preparation knowledge, which isn’t ideal for many channel partners. Self-service solutions, in contrast, are user-friendly by design. These typically offer drag-and-drop functionality, prebuilt templates, and other features to let companies access helpful insights without coding experience.

Also read: How Can the Channel Use AI?

3. Market Intelligence Tools

As channel partners look for new opportunities, market intelligence software can help see which segments are the most profitable. These tools typically include customer profiling, sales prospecting, lead scoring, and information about competitors. With this data, channel companies can determine which new strategies or market segments are most worth their investment.

Most market intelligence tools sync with CRM solutions, helping companies further capitalize on these insights. To maximize their effectiveness, channel partners can insert data from third-party sources, not just their own internal information. ZoomInfo, InsideView, and Apollo.io are among the most budget- and user-friendly for these companies.

4. Market Research Tools

Market research tools are similar to market intelligence solutions but are more focused on customer data. The data they work with involves what factors influence a customer on their journey to making a buying decision. This information, in turn, can help shape effective strategies for reaching the markets businesses evaluate through market intelligence.

Because these two categories are so similar, many vendors provide tools for both. ZoomInfo is one such service. Still, market research-specific vendors are available, too—Attest, Social Mention, and Remesh are examples of these—most of which are narrower in scope, offering insight into a specific aspect of customer sentiment.

5. Buyer Intent Data Tools

Another related, but more specific, type of data tool is buyer intent data software. These solutions deal with information about customer journeys but focus specifically on their intent to make a purchase. This often includes instances from a company’s own customer interactions and those of their competitors.

Understanding customer intent signals can help channel partners create more effective campaigns and reduce churn. As these businesses look to expand into new markets, tailoring outreach like this becomes increasingly important. Many solutions like Leadfeeder, G2 Marketing Solutions, and Priority Engine also offer free tiers, making them more accessible.

6. Data Preparation Software

No matter what kind of data tools channel partners use, they must ensure they’re feeding them reliable data. Poor-quality data costs businesses $15 million annually on average, but in the past, cleaning and organizing this information was a highly technical undertaking. Data preparation software helps remove this barrier.

These tools help users consolidate, clean, organize, and enrich their data, which makes the resulting insights more reliable, maximizing channel partners’ ROI with other software. Microsoft Power BI, Tye, and Infogix Data360 are among the easiest to use and most affordable for these companies.

Channel Partners Must Capitalize on Data

With as much data as there is available today, channel partners would be remiss to ignore its potential. While the industry may be relatively new to the concept of analytics, it doesn’t have to be an expensive, technical process. As the analytics market grows, accessible solutions will only become more widely available, too.

These six types of tools are among the most valuable for channel partners. They can use them to segment customer demographics, analyze sales trends, and value potential partners. As they do this, their growth opportunities will expand.

Further reading: MSPs Are Turning Software Into New Services – As We Predicted

Devin Partida
Devin Partida
Devin Partida is a technology and cybersecurity writer whose work has been featured on Entrepreneur, AOL, AT&T's cybersecurity blog and Yahoo! Finance. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of the tech website ReHack.com.

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