Welcome to part two of my “three E’s of channel management” series! The series began with channel partner experience. Now I’ll focus on the second e: engagement. Channel partner engagement is a step beyond experience. Your channel partner may have a sufficient and convenient experience with your brand, but are they engaged? Are they actively interested, motivated, and enthusiastic? Some methods of improving and maintaining channel partner engagement:
As a B2B manufacturer/supplier, there are few things more engaging than rewards that you can offer to channel partners. It’s one of the best things you can do to add a personal and emotional touch to partner relationship management. A Salesforce study of B2B buyer opinions found the following:
- 68% say their brand loyalty is influenced by whether a company offers rewards.
- 58% say their loyalty is influenced when suppliers offer rewards for referrals, feedback, or product reviews.
- 74% say that personalized or exclusive offers influence their loyalty.
What kind of rewards are we talking about, here? That depends on your sales channel goals and which rewards are motivating to your channel partners. Each type of incentive reward has different advantages and different impact on the recipient. Survey your channel partners and familiarize yourself with each reward type to determine the most effective option.
Adding gaming elements to your channel partners’ experience is a great way to engage them. Gamification comes in many forms that can be applied to partner programs and/or incentive programs. A few examples:
- Enrollment bonuses: Channel incentive program participants can play reward-earning games of chance upon enrolling. With a lucky round of Spin-to-Win or Scratch Off, participants earn rewards that get them immediately engaged in the program.
- Leaderboard: A bit of friendly competition injects energy into your channel sales promotions and competitions. Those who are driven by recognition and bragging rights will by motivated to see their name at the top of a real-time, interactive leaderboard seen by all participants.
- Daily trivia: Reward channel partners when they correctly answer daily trivia questions. This is a fun (and educational!) way to keep them engaged and give them a reason to frequently visit your incentive program.
If you doubt the power of gamification to help you with channel partner relationship management, check out some of the psychological studies on it. Gamification can create emotional connections and positive associations, promote the release of endorphins, reduce stress, and improve brain function.
I mentioned the importance of mobile UX earlier—let’s expand on that some. Not only is a great mobile experience vital to channel partner engagement, you can speed up and amplify processes, while getting more sales and customer data from sales promotions. While running sales promotions, for example, channel partners can use mobile functionality to upload receipts, invoices, warranty registrations, and other sales claim documentation directly to your incentive program from anywhere, even when they’re out in the field.
Once channel partners have submitted sales claim files, you can digitally authenticate the claims and immediately distribute rewards. The immediacy of the reward strengthens its connection to the associated action, and makes sales incentives more effective.