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Beat Your MDF Management Track Record
by: Chris Phelan | April 19, 2024

Get your MDF program management on track for 2024

Most technology and software vendors like you offer co-marketing subsidies to your partners through market development funds (MDF) or cooperative (Co-op) dollars. How do you measure the success of managing your MDF programs? Do you know if they’re meeting your objectives?

Get your MDF programs on track in 2024

Are you on the right side of the track?

Running a winning MDF management program requires closely tracking your ROI. To track your program, you need to ask these questions: 
Are the partners you’ve selected…

  • “Right” for your program?
  • Clear on your requirements and goals?
  • Motivated to perform?
  • Fully engaged, generating leads, driving the pipeline and bringing new sales?
  • Receiving the training and support they need?
  • Getting their claims paid quickly and accurately?

For MDF programs – maybe even yours – the response to the above questions will likely be “not really.”

Sidetracked by the process

It has been estimated that at least half of every partner marketing dollar goes unused! While there are many reasons, several common themes abound, including:

  • Unaware of the programs available to them
  • Cumbersome and time-consuming program administration and reimbursement processes
  • Lack of partner knowledge on how best to market the vendor’s product

Managing MDF programs is a headache for both you and your partners. These limitations also pass pain points on to your partners. You get high administrative costs, massive inefficiencies and poor visibility into processes, while partners get long payment cycles, frequently dispute claims, all of which can lead to frustration.

Innovative technology and software vendors will strategically work to change that perception in 2024. So why not make this the year that you get your partner MDF programs on the right track? 

Get your MDF programs on track in 2024

Fix the track paved with challenges 

Designing and deploying a new MDF program can be a significant challenge. Without the right tools, MDF management is complicated to track. Passing pain points onto your partners will not earn you program loyalty. Without a single end-to-end solution to manage MDF processes your spreadsheets and manual processes will lack transparency, accuracy and speed in delivery. 

With manual processes, you lack integrated access to up-to-date, accurate financial data and can’t deliver the data necessary to assess performance, understand spending, or determine partner utilization, ultimately leading to ROI, as mentioned above. When submitting claims for expenses, it can also be difficult for the partner to get reimbursed by the vendors. There are hoops to jump through, and you, as a vendor, may not have an efficient system for processing claims.

In many ways, marketing has replaced direct selling as the most effective revenue-generating activity. One reason is the evolving sophistication of marketing strategies that cause partners who are not marketing-savvy to lose interest. But if your partners don’t fully grasp the MDF marketing strategy and have difficulty getting their marketing ideas and activities approved by you, the program will not stay the course.  

Get your MDF programs on track in 2024

When your partners succeed, you succeed

Vendors who succeed know the importance of re-engineering how they promote, implement and execute MDF with their channel partners while making it easier for both to realize more value and greater ROI. 

Here are 2 recommendations for getting your programs on track in 2024

  1. Take an in-depth look at your MDF management process and make upgrades as needed. This should be done in the context of your overall revenue management system that handles your pricing, quoting, incentive programs and more. The goal is to eliminate inefficiencies and inaccuracies that slow down your programs, cause payment errors and revenue leakage, or create unnecessary disputes and resentment from your partners.

    Automating your MDF process solution and your other processes provides several benefits: access to real-time, reliable program data, fast payment processing, better tracking capabilities, lower administrative overhead and operating costs, and loyalty. Partners can submit claims online, easily upload proof of performance documents, access statements and reports.

  2. Make things easy for your partners. Many partners report that programs are too difficult to use. We recommend reviewing your program from the partners' point of view. Are the project approval and funding qualification processes clearly documented? If partners have questions or need training or other types of support, are there easy-to-find resources? Are program guidelines easily accessible online?

Partnership is about working together toward a common goal in the spirit of trust. Resolve proof-of-performance (POP) conflicts by reviewing your POP requirements to ensure minimal usage and simple compliance. Vendors asking partners to submit multiple documents to prove that an approved activity occurred as planned can lead to dissatisfaction. While documentation is essential to you as the vendor for audit purposes, it can be a demotivator for your partners. Consider providing various training tools, from webinars and virtual demos to online help tools.

Going the extra mile

Channel partners are the lifeblood of the high tech industry. Making things easy on your partners and you goes a long way in surpassing your competition. Become more strategic in who you partner with and how you run your processes by choosing quality over quantity of partners who will appreciate the systemic improvements you are making, welcome the added value you bring and are highly motivated to market and sell your products. 

Communicating the benefits of your MDF programs should be a perpetual process. Treat your program like a product — tell your partners what’s in it for them by demonstrating the program's value in terms that resonate with them — greater ROI, increased sales and ease of use. If you want to truly go the distance, consider incentivizing them to evangelize the program to others. 

Now is the time to make 2024 the year you get your partner MDF programs on the right track!