When the channel fluctuates towards a competitive market, it’s easy to open your wallet and start throwing money at your partners. While this may be a great short-term solution, it provides little true value to your channel operation. Here are our recommendations to promote channel loyalty without having to open your checkbook.
Discover and Share Channel Success ‘Secrets’
Stick to the facts: you know your channel partners and you know what drives their successes. If you don’t, it’s not a difficult challenge to figure out. You can start by evaluating your ‘platinum’ tier partners, how did they achieve platinum-level advantage? What strategies did they apply to meet the requirement? Once you have uncovered your partners’ success strategies, share it within your channel. Gather all the best practices you have come across and offer a ‘sales success’ guide or training program to your partners.
Keep in mind that these ‘achievements’ may not be suitable for every partner that resells your product/services. So don’t expect results to always fall in your favor. If your suggestions don’t align with you partners’ strategic goals, adoption will be low and unfavorable.
Non-monetary Motivation & Rewards
Accreditation & Training
As the old saying goes, ‘If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish, he’ll feed himself for life.”
It’s more than just a plaque on the wall or a certificate to frame. When used strategically, training and certifications can grow your margins exponentially, especially if the rewards benefit not only the vendor but resellers as well. For instance, vendors can reward their partners for achieving certifications by offering them access to pricing support, sales/marketing collaboration and tools, and credits for Co-op/MDF. Not only will your partners be more enabled and well-informed, the rewards will provide them with more opportunities to encourage growth and a long-term, sustainable channel relationship.
Recognition & Gamification
Gamification offers an intrinsic reward value to your channel partners. While money can be offered as a reward, this only provides satisfaction to one type of ‘gamer personality.’ Gamer personality refers to the Bartle Test which classifies ‘players’ within a spectrum for 4 personality types:
- Achievers: These players are motivated by the satisfaction of their achievements and accomplishments
- Explorers: These players are motivated by the idea of exploring new opportunities
- Socializers: These players are motivated by the social aspect of ‘gaming’
- Killers: These players are motivated the slightest inclination towards competition
While still a relatively new channel strategy, many companies are turning towards gamification to increase channel engagement. By identifying what drives each of your channel partners (at an individual level), you can encourage and foster their individual growth by providing them with the most-relevant motivation.
Customers don’t want to dial a 1-800 number only to waste time listening to an automated message that asks them to press ‘4’ only to redirected to another automated message. This is a surefire way to deter potential customers from following through with the sales process. The trick is to KISS (Keep it Simple, Silly). Implement a dealer locator on your website so that it’s easy for prospects to get in touch with someone that sells your products. Since your dealers are more than likely to be on the smaller side, and not a corporate entity, it will be easier for a potential buyer to get in touch with an actual person and not a corporate voice-automated message. The benefit applies to both you and your channel partners who will be able to close more deals and open up to new market opportunities.
Channel partners provide a tremendous value to many vendors, providing up to 75% of a company’s bottom line. Incentive programs are designed to help organizations achieve their sales objectives, but the risks and rewards must be balanced. Gamifcation has proven to be a cost-effective way of instilling channel loyalty while providing channel partners with the motivation to drive their business goals.