It is a compelling proposition to have external forces working for your success without heavy investments on your side – particularly if you need to build a broad geographic or industry reach. However, if mismanaged, partners can drain on your resources, rather than being an asset to your long-term growth. Use these three tips to understand how analytics can help you build a successful and data-driven channel strategy.

Reason #1: To choose your partners wisely. 

Regardless of how many times you hear partners say “consider us an extension of your sales force”, they ultimately make decisions in their own best interest.

It is on you to invest in the channel partners that work for you. In most cases, quality is better than quantity. Too often, companies place their primary focus on partner acquisition, figuring that every new partner is a steady source of future revenue. But in fact, a small minority of channel partners will usually account for the vast majority of your deals.

To choose and keep the best partners, treat channels as a program with continuous goals and metrics. Analyze channel performance against regional and industry benchmarks. Distinguish between those who are just order takers and those with value-added services who actually “sell” your product, and design incentive plans and reward systems that works for your best mates.  

Reason #2: To protect your price.

When working with partners, companies often find themselves struggling with defining the right pricing models and margins. Aggressive competition, increased customer sophistication and growing price sensitivity have in many instances shifted the power into the hands of resellers and distributors.

Business analytics tools can help channel managers take a deeper look at bookings and margins. By factoring in market trends and public sources of data such as seasonal changes, competitor pricing and category popularity changes, channel managers can identify the most profitable markets for their product or services and develop partner pricing schemes that maximize profit margins while staying competitive.

Reason #3: To differentiate yourself and win big. 

Think about how many competitors are in your space. How many of them do you think are working with the same channel partners as you? Quality partners have many options, so why would they choose you?

Channel partners will likely want to stay with vendors that have mastered analytics. Why? Because those vendors are going to be the ones generating the most valuable leads – the ones that result in an actual sale.

What’s more, being able to show your partners the value of certain markets, best-selling products and regions, as well as economical and seasonal trends, will help them sell well, which ultimately will help you win big.

Channels help you accelerate your sales growth, reach buyers that are not adequately served by your sales reps and make it more convenient for your customers to purchase in markets that are not in your direct reach or expertise. But poor performing channels and low margins will drain your resources, and if you don’t have what it takes to be competitive, you will lose high quality partners to your competitors. Use analytics to differentiate yourself, and partner with the best of the best.

This article originally appeared on TMCnet.