Creating a Stable Relationship with Channel Partners

by: Nichole Gunn August 13, 2013

Effectively selling products requires a stable relationship with channel partners. Because there are often multiple distribution levels to focus on, and many other companies to compete with, this can often be a bit tricky. Incentive programs are a necessity to ensure loyalty, and help form a solid relationship with channel partners. In order for this to work effectively, however, the best incentive practices must be put into action. Here’s what we think are best practices:

Allow Higher Level Management to be Involved

When senior level executives are involved of the process, incentive programs can reach their maximum potential. Their duties throughout the process should include making decisions, allocating resources, and making changes to the program when deemed necessary.

Strategize Objectives from the Beginning

If nothing else, make sure that objectives are clear and easy to understand.

Carefully Select the Audience

Knowing whom you plan to target makes it easier to decide specifics for the program. Sales team members with a strong work ethic should be targeted first, because of the high sales potential they have.

Define Your Sales Goals

Make sure goals are realistic, and specific. They should be easy to understand from the very beginning of the planning process.

Clearly Define All Program Structures

Definite rules need to be put into place to make sure participants know who is performing which operations. Use visual aids to appeal to your audience, and help them understand what is expected.

Limit the Amount of Behavioral Objectives

Asking for too many complicated behaviors from participants can get confusing. Keep everything simple, it will allow for increased motivation.

Propose a Memorable Promotion to Participants

When dealing with channel partners, it is important to remember that you will be competing with many other companies for their attention. Include promotions in your incentives plan that will stand out and appeal to your audience.

Set Appropriate Awards

As far as point systems go, they can be highly beneficial to your company and channel partners. The level should be increasing fast enough so participants can track their progress frequently. As a general rule, participants should receive around $400 in rewards within the first 6-12 months.

Award Points Monthly

As points begin to accumulate, participants tend to have more motivation and a stronger work ethic. As they begin to collect points, they might realize there are specific times when it is more beneficial to redeem their points. Keep dates consistent when it comes to awarding points to increase employee performance.

Communicate Frequently

You cannot over-communicate in the business of incentive program planning. Having enough effective communication between you and your channel partners can increase trust and loyalty.

Involve your Field Sales Team

Being the center of the operation, your sales team is an irreplaceable asset to your company. To show your appreciation, keep them up to date on what is going on with your incentives program. This will provide them with the appropriate knowledge to effectively explain your program to other accounts and sales team members.

Collect Data from Multiple Sources

Tracking data and results is the most valuable step in the process of carrying out an incentives program. Use channel partners, internal departments, and end users to collect data concerning your program.

Use Collected Data to Make Adjustments

Information concerning developments from your competitors in the marketplace can often come from direct interactions between your channel partners and end users. Collect and analyze data from this information to determine if adjustments need to be made.

Anticipate Loss of Interest

Sometimes over time, an incentive program that started off being exciting and new, eventually dies down. Participants might lose interest if the program fails to add new material. Organize special events and promotions ahead of time to avoid loss of interest.

Test, Learn and Modify

Follow a development program that is simple to follow. Start with the basics of the program first, allowing participants to see how everything works and fully comprehend all aspects. After several months, make changes as you see necessary.

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About Nichole Gunn