Channel Sales: Maintaining Stable Relationships

Maintaining stable relationships with channel partners is one of the most effective ways to sell products. This can sometimes be tricky since there are often multiple distribution levels to focus on. Company loyalty and incentive programs have proven to be the best way to form a solid relationship with distributors and dealers. Loyaltyworks has developed a list over the past 30 years of the best incentive practices.

Get Senior Management Buy-in and Involvement

Channel incentives will only reach their maximum potential if a senior level manager is involved in the process. This executive should represent authority by making decisions, breaking ties, allocating resources, and making changes to the program if needed.

Define Business Objectives and Strategy from the Get-Go

Objectives should be defined in a simple manner. They should appear clear and concise to anyone that reads them.

Carefully Select the Audience

Employees who already have a strong work ethic and sales potential should be targeted first. By knowing who you want to target, it makes it much easier to plan a more effective incentives plan.

Define Your Sales Goals

Be specific when planning your future goals. In doing so, also make sure that your targets are realistically obtainable.

Clearly Define All Program Structures

Rules should be put into place. To make things simple, create diagrams so participants know exactly what is expected and desired of them and where they stand.

Put a Limit on the Number of Behavioral Objectives

Business incentive programs intend to enhance employee performance and motivation, but keep this simple as well. Asking for overly complicated behaviors from participants can become too confusing.

Offer a Value Proposition that Resonates with Participants

It’s important to remember that your incentives promotion is not the only program your channel partners will see. That is why it is essential to create a promotion that is exciting, and stands out. This means it should be clear, honest, and directly states what’s in it for them.

Set Appropriate Awards

When developing an incentive solution based on points, the levels should be accumulating at a fast enough rate so participants can track their progress. With the point system, participants will be anxious to see how quickly they can begin receiving rewards. As a general guideline, participants should receive rewards close to $400 during the first 6-12 months.

Award Points Monthly

Motivation tends to increase once program participants begin to watch their points accumulate. As this occurs, participants also realize the benefits of redeeming points at the correct time, such as around the holidays. By remaining loyal as to when points will be awarded, employee motivation and performance will continue to increase.

Communicate Frequently

Over-communication is simply non-existent when it comes to business incentive programs. Effective communication between you and your channel partners is best way to maintain a stable relationship. Tactics such as frequent newsletters, periodic e-mails, and an updated Web page are all components of an effective program.

Involve Your Field Sales Team

As the heart and should of the operation, your sales team should be appreciated. Include them in program details, and award them for their efforts periodically. By knowing the ins and outs of your program, your sales team will have the ability to explain it effectively to other accounts and share with fellow salespeople.

Collect Data from Multiple Sources

Recording and tracking data is by far the most important step in creating an incentives program. By failing to track data from your business, you will be unable to understand what impact your incentive program is having. Collect data from channel partners, internal departments, and end users if possible. Gathering large amounts of data from multiple reliable sources will allow for a better assessment of your program.

Conduct On-Going Measurement Analysis and Adjustments

The interactions between your channel partners and their end users can often show what is going on in the marketplace and developments from your competitors. To understand how this might be affecting your program, collect and analyze data to determine which adjustments you need to make.

Anticipate and Manage the Program Life Cycle

Incentive programs generally start off with a bang, appearing exciting and new to participants. Over time, however, the program will eventually die down. During this stage in its life cycle, you should prepare ahead by organizing special events, promotions, and special offers to re-energize the program.

Test, Learn and Modify

Most of Loyaltyworks’ programs follow the “implement-reinforce-optimize-expand” development sequence. This sequence is simple enough to follow, and does not allow much room for confusion. Consider only following the basics for the first few months of the program, allowing participants to fully comprehend all aspects. After several months like this, make appropriate changes.

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