Companies want to drive demand for their products and often engage Resellers or Channel Partners to help sell their products. Channel marketing departments can incentivize partners to generate leads for their products by providing funds to support the cost of raising awareness for and selling the company’s products. These funds are known as Market Development Funds (MDF), and Salesforce Communities offer a powerful out-of-the-box feature for tracking MDF performance in Salesforce Community Cloud.
In our work with clients looking to increase their strategic use of Partner Communities, we have explored the Salesforce MDF functionality. Based on what we’ve found, these are the high-level considerations for preparing and setting up the MDF feature in Salesforce Community Cloud Partner Communities.
What are Market Development Funds, and where do I begin?
Salesforce describes Market Development Funds this way:
“Discretionary marketing dollars given to partners to help generate future sales (lead generation), typically associated with a marketing budget/plan. Funds can be allocated in real time or in advance of the marketing campaigns.”
Naturally, companies want to track:
Which partners are using MDF
How MDF dollars are spent
What kind of return they are seeing from their MDF investment
Luckily, Salesforce provides out-of-the-box functionality to help track Market Development Funds for customers using Partner Communities in Community Cloud.
Recommended First Steps When Configuring Market Development Funds in Salesforce
There are myriad ways for companies to implement their MDF programs. We recommend two important steps before engaging this feature in Salesforce:
Familiarize yourself with the MDF framework and process supported by Salesforce.
Document the process your company/client plans to use for awarding MDF to partners.
Market Development Funds (MDF) Example/Use Case
Let’s use an example to help you consider both steps.
Acme Inc. sells motors and works with a variety of channel partners – one of which is named Rising Resellers. Acme has an annual MDF budget of $1,000,000. The budget they’ve set for Rising Resellers is $200,000 and is allocated across three areas:
Rising Resellers plans to attend the Magnificent Motors Trade Show where they will promote Acme’s motors. Using the Acme Partner Portal in Salesforce Community Cloud, Rising submits a request for $30,000 to help cover the $50,000 cost of the trade show booth. The request enters a Salesforce approval process and is approved for $25,000. A notification of the decision is sent to Rising. Rising pays for the booth, attends the trade show, then submits a Funds Request to Acme for reimbursement and reports the number of Acme motors sold at the trade show.
MDF Process Questions to Consider While Planning
Before setting up the MDF functionality, consider the following questions with your partner channel marketing team:
How are MDF budgets established and communicated?
What allocation areas are of interest for tracking partner spending?
What is the approval process to be used for Fund Requests?
Who needs to be notified for which events, and when?
What parameters are required for partner reimbursement?
Activating MDF in Salesforce
To activate the MDF feature, a Partner Community license is required and a Partner Community must be enabled. In our experience, this can be a regular Partner Community license or a Partner Community Log-in license.
Once these conditions are in place, the Salesforce documentation indicates that the four custom MDF objects will appear, however, you may need to submit a case to Salesforce to gain access to the objects.
The four objects that are added to your data model are:
Partner Marketing Funds
A Guided Setup is provided by Salesforce, which will help you create the necessary records, permissions, and approval processes. It assumes you already have access to the MDF custom objects and have a clear process for how you will implement MDF. To help you think through the setup, here are some larger process tips to keep in mind.
The Salesforce framework will expect the following:
Budget amounts must be established up front
Budget dollars can be allocated across different areas of your choosing
An approval process is utilized for Fund Requests from partners
Notifications to partners if amount requested is approved, if a different amount is approved, or if a request is rejected
How to Prepare and Set Up Market Development Funds in Salesforce Communities
Now that you understand how companies use Community Cloud to maintain relationships with their channel partners and resellers get started with MDF, here’s how to configure the features and dive in.
Step 1: Set a Budget for the Partner/Reseller
In the guided setup, you will first create a Partner Marketing Budget record. This establishes the limit of MDF that can be spent by a Partner Account.
In our example, this was the $200,000 budget for Rising Resellers.
Step 2: Set an Allocation Amount for the Partner/Reseller
In Salesforce, an allocation is a portion of the Partner Budget earmarked for a specific use. An Allocation record cannot be more than the total budget amount. The Partner Allocation record is created to indicate how much of the MDF budget can be drawn down by the partner for this particular use.
In our example, the allocations for Rising Resellers were the $25,000 for trade shows, $100,000 for sponsorships, and $75,000 for advertising.
Step 3: Setup the Fund Request Approval Process & Notifications
Once the request is submitted by Rising Resellers through Acme’s Partner Community, it enters an approval process at Acme. Setting up this approval process is part of the guided setup.
In our case, Rising Resellers is approved for a different amount – $25,000. An email notification is sent to the reseller with this information. Setting up the various email templates is part of the Salesforce guided setup.
Step 4: Partner submits a Claim in order to receive reimbursement
A Partner Claim record is created when a partner submits a request for reimbursement. Claims are related to Fund Requests. Salesforce will guide you through the steps to configure and set up the appropriate permissions.
Step 5: Market Development Funds Reporting
Also available for download through the guided setup are Market Development Fund reports. These will provide insights to the channel marketing team regarding partner adoption, funds usage, and ROI.
Salesforce has created a Budget custom report type. If you want to view information about allocations, requests, or claims, create report types for those objects and give partners read access to them.
Final Thoughts and Resources
Market Development Funds are a key initiative for winning over partners and helping them drive sales of your products. Ensuring your process aligns with the Salesforce framework and documenting your desired MDF process up front will help you set up a Market Development Fund process like a pro!
While there’s mention of MDF in many of Salesforce’s marketing videos and Trailhead badges, the documentation on this feature is somewhat light. We hope this overview of the purpose and process as well as the resources shared below help you get off to a good start, and, of course, you can always call on the CRM Science Salesforce consultants to help!
To learn more about MDF as a strategic tool, check out this Trailhead badge.
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