Effective channel partnerships are a proven sales driver innumerous business sectors, including automotive, software and hardware vendors,the energy industry and healthcare. Points, cash, prepaid cards, merchandise,travel and experiential rewards are the most commonly used “carrots” thatmotivate desired partner behaviors and represent as much as 60 percent ofchannel marketing expenditures. In these days of tight budgets, getting themaximum return on that budget is critical.
If your business relies on channel sales, you’ve alreadybeen exposed to numerous articles, seminars, and probably even consultantstelling you how to maximizereturns on your sales incentives investment. What I’m suggesting is thatyou step back and take a look at the actual process of determining anddistributing those incentives. This process can have a huge impact on theeffectiveness of your channel incentives.
Let’s start by looking at what you want broadly. In ourexperience, managers in charge of incentive sales want their brand to be top ofmind for their channel partners, and they want partners to use desiredbehaviors to execute sales programs and follow up on leads—fast. These are reasonable expectations. So isn’t it reasonable foryour channel partners to expect the same of your organization? That is, isn’tit reasonable that your incentiverewards be personally meaningful to the recipient (much as you want yourbrand to be personally meaningful to your channel partners) and deliveredrapidly and seamlessly?
Determining what constitutes a personally meaningful rewardfor channel sellers takes some work but it’s worth the effort. By getting toknow your channel partners better you can find incentives that are personallymeaningful without eating up a significant portion of your budget. Face-to-facevisits with channel partners can reveal more about the actual sales reps, andwhat truly motivates them, than any one-off rally or sales event. Thatknowledge will enable you to zero in on rewards that resonate.
Speed and efficiency are also strong influencers of anincentive’s impact. We recommend that rewards to consultants are made as closeas possible to achieving sales targets. If you run SPIFF programs as well asyear-long programs, you’ll want to make sure your rewards and recognitionplatform can handle both seamlessly. You’ll also want a platform that makesclaiming those rewards as easy and fast as possible (here are 10questions to ask vendors about their channel sales claiming system). Afterall, your channel sales associates have already earned their reward; you don’twant them to have to work hard to claim it.
Unless your rewards are personally meaningful and deliveredrapidly and seamlessly, your channel incentive program will fall short of itsfull potential and you won’t be getting everything you can from your budget.The suggestions I’ve made are a starting point. By getting to really know yourchannel partners and reviewing your rewards and recognition platform to makesure it’s delivering on expectations, you’ll be taking important steps towardmaximizing the impact of your channel incentives without breaking your budget.
If you’re thinking ofimplementing a new sales incentive program or refreshing an existing one, contact a Marketing Innovators solutions expert for help in making that important decision.