Working With Channel Partners

by: Nichole Gunn September 30, 2013

Effectively selling products requires a stable relationship with your dealer and channel partners. More often than not, there are multiple distribution levels and channels you work with, all of whom are sought and fought after by you and your competitors. This can make setting up an incentive reward program a bit tricky. Incentive programs are a great way to ensure distributor loyalty, forming a solid relationship with channel partners. In order for this to work effectively, however, the best incentive practices must be put into action. An business incentives planning company, Incentive Solutions, has developed a list of their best incentive practices over the past 30 years:

Allow Higher Level Management to be Involved

When senior level executives are involved in 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. Also try looking at your mid-level performers as they often have the greatest room for improvement.

Define Your Sales Goals

Make sure goals are realistic, and be 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. And don’t worry about over communicating. You have to stay in the face of your audience. Try making your incentive program fun, and enjoyable to be a part of with viral campaigns, videos, fun content and imagery, etc.

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.

Award Points Monthly

As points begin to accumulate, channel partners tend to have more motivation and a stronger loyalty to brands. 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.

Involve your 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, and the progress from their respective dealer networks. 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 these channels 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, and don’t forget to get in their faces with exciting communications.

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. After several months, make changes as you see necessary, grow your program in the direction best suited to achieve your desired results.

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About Nichole Gunn