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Channel Partner Incentive Programs: Supporting a Strategy Overhaul

Chris Largent | June 25, 2019

channel partner incentive program_changeI’ve seen a decent amount of marketing recently that claims that a lot of what we do as businesspeople misses the mark. Whether it’s with our sales pitches, our marketing campaigns, or our business strategy, we’re just not achieving what we’re completely capable of. This messaging actually isn’t too surprising. A lot of our clients looking for channel partner incentive programs fear this very fact.

It’s across industries, too. From IT and cloud infrastructure to building materials and HVAC. I actually just received an email over the weekend from Mark Mitchell from See the Whizard about faulty sales pitches and the danger of using more marketing to bring more people into your bad cycle.

So, understanding that spinning our wheels on pitches, campaigns, and strategies is a concern and a problem, let’s get into how we can correct it.

But First, The Why

Why are we missing the mark? Well, it’s totally possible we just don’t know that we’re missing. Additionally, it’s hard to understand what will and won’t work. I’ve fallen into the trap of making decisions based on what I think will work. I’m sure you have, too.

The problem may also be that we’re not using all of the resources we have at hand, or we’re not aware of the resources we could be using. Data is a good example of this. Past performance is another.

We also could be missing the mark a lot of the times because we don’t really know who we’re talking to, or how they use our products/services. Kind of like yelling into an empty canyon…

 

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When running a channel partner incentive program, for instance, you could think that a newsletter about your company will spur some increased mindshare with your partners. But after three issues of the email, you’re seeing low opens and even lower clicks.

Now you know that a newsletter won’t work, but only after you’ve put in all that effort. It’s time-consuming but running an audit on any past emails and their performance can help you understand what might get your audiences to engage.

Additionally, any kind of survey data, demographic, firmographic, you name it that you can analyze and glean will help tremendously. Don’t just focus on who they are as people, though. You’ll also want to focus on what challenges they have, particularly when it comes to how they interact with you and your product.

Knowing this arms you for your strategy adaptation and “The How” of no longer missing the mark.

Channel Partner Incentive Programs and The How

Aside from collecting data and combing through past reports, there’s one major adjustment that I’d recommend for any business going to market through a distribution channel.

Start to focus more on becoming the best channel partner you can be. Make it one of your top business goals, up there with your other most important KPIs. This might seem a little simple but hear me out.

By focusing on being a better channel partner, you also focus on helping your channel partners be better, and by enabling your channel partners, you help give your customers a better experience. And we all know, today’s market is all about the customer experience.

A better customer experience means more sales from happy customers, and happier customers means repeat sales by your channel partners, who will turn to you not only as the solution provider for their customers but also to help them make the sale more easily. It’s an ongoing cycle of you winning.

 

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The best example of a strategy like this is Microsoft Azure. In recent years, they’ve capitalized on becoming the go-to solution partner in a few, key ways.

  • First, they’ve simplified their product and the onboarding process.

Simplification can help you in a number of ways, like lowering the barrier for entry on using your products. Additionally, instructions and eLearning courses on the product can be simplified as well, minimizing the friction between onboarding and being fully operational.

  • Second, they’ve made their partners onboarding pros.

By arming direct and indirect salespeople with means of working through challenges and coaching their customers, Azure has essentially eliminated the need to do it themselves. All they need to do is train those sales personnel.

So how do you go about implementing a strategy like this?

Well, one way is through a channel partner incentive program. By creating a channel partner incentive program that not only acts as a resource center for the essential training materials but actually rewards your partners for these “better partner” behaviors you can ensure your spot as the best option for your partners and customers.

Give your partners a single sign-on portal, where they can access their partner portal and the login for their rewards program in the same place. Give them a resource center where they can go to get their customers answers for their onboarding. Set up an ongoing course curriculum so that they can earn rewards while they become a better resource themselves.

In addition to being the perfect vehicle for your better partner initiative, a channel partner incentive program can also help you to collect data on your partners and your customer, find where the points of influence are, and give you actionable insights into where your efforts are most likely to hit the mark.

Conclusion

It’s easy to look at those posts and those emails that say, “You’re doing it all wrong!” and get discouraged or anxious. Believe me, they’ve affected me the same way. So, I hope this article clears that up for you and gives you hope rather than anxiety.

It can be a hard thing to overhaul your strategy but missing the mark on your valiant efforts costs you more in the end. Guaranteed.

 

Sources:

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

https://www.seethewhizard.com/

https://gph.is/1d4VElA

https://www.visioncritical.com/blog/rise-of-customer-experience

https://gph.is/1KGo9iH

https://www.crn.com/news/cloud/microsoft-azure-5-key-takeaways-on-the-partner-opportunity?cid=nl_crn#&itc=refresh

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