Channel Partners Are More Like Consumers Than You Think
Sales channel purchasing and marketing has the potential to become very systematic and routine in how processes are carried out. A distributor sticks with a certain supplier because they’ve never had a problem with that supplier, for instance, and because it would be a bother to find a new one. But in contemporary marketplaces, in which consumers are learning to expect information at the tips of their fingers all the time, channel sales partners are becoming more discerning and investigative. In this article, we’ll have a look at why today’s B2B consumers resemble B2C consumers, and address how companies can adapt to these trends using channel sales incentive ideas and technology.
What makes channel partners “consumer-like”?
As McKinsey & Company business experts wrote in a 2015 article, “[business purchasers’] behavior has become more consumer-like.” By this, they mean that, just as with B2C consumers, ratings and reviews on social media are influencing how B2B brands are perceived. B2B buyers are getting their brand information from the same information sources as B2C consumers.
B2B companies can either fight this inevitable change in channel partner behaviors, kicking and screaming, or evolve along with the new B2B consumer and thrive. As McKinsey & Company advises, “Sellers who are ready to meet customers at different points on their journeys will exploit digital tools more fully, allocate sales and marketing resources more successfully, and stimulate collaboration between these two functions, thereby helping to win over reluctant buyers.”[ezcol_1half]
Which sales channel incentive ideas can help you meet partners’ needs & expectations?
Rather than trying to expand marketing outward blindly to try and compete with the vast amounts of information about countless brands already online, B2B companies can use online tools and technology to enhance their sales and marketing strategies with focused goals in mind. Brands need to be able to target audience and send specific messages instead of wasting efforts inundating audiences with even more marketing messages than they already see and ignore in a day.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end]
- Focus on Sales Channel Partner Retention
First thing’s first: you should be showing appreciation and secure the continued business of those who are already your loyal B2B partners. The phrase “take care of your own house first” can be applied to marketing strategies, especially when it comes to sales channel partnerships, since it’s often time-consuming and cumbersome for those in supply chain networks to switch, drop or take on new suppliers and distributors. You don’t have to bring on new partners to increase sales and gain market share in B2B industries. A new or improved sales channel reward program can add “spice” to even the oldest, most established sales channel partnerships, pushing your B2B dealers, distributors and contractors out of their comfort zone to reach higher-than-average sales performances.Offer your loyal B2B partners rewards for anniversaries as your partner, for yearly contributions to your success, for being a leader in selling particular products or any other behaviors that help you thrive. Your channel partners are probably accustomed to being recognized for their loyalty and continuing business in B2C markets, which will bring them to value appreciation as a long-term B2B partner.
- Track Performances to Develop Better B2B Marketing Strategies
As you apply and share this knowledge, you can come to better understand your industry market and your role within it. In markets where consumers of all types demand information that’s specific to them and ignore all the other marketing efforts thrown at them daily, detailed understanding of B2B customer needs will make your supply chain sales performances and marketing efforts stand out.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end] [/ezcol_1half_end]
- Strengthen Product Knowledge with Online Training
Today’s technology brings instant information access to all buyers, in both B2B and B2C industries. Everyone expects to know everything they can about a product or service before investing in it. To keep up with this expectation and engage your channel partners in your services or products, you can use online training reward systems such as Loyaltyworks’ Learn and Earn to encourage channel partners to provide purchasing information by filling out surveys and stay informed on product updates or features through quizzes. When they have a quick-access, easy tool to educate themselves on your products or services, they will be more invested and confident in your brand.
- Use Mobile Technology to Increase Engagement in Your Sales Channel Incentive Program
One of the reasons channel partners are behaving more like consumers is that, like everyone else, they are consumers and they are exposed to the same conveniences and technology that everyone else is. With apps that help them choose paint colors and determine Western Wood Products Association (WWPA) wood grades, they’re already recognizing how mobile technology can make their jobs easier, and they’ll begin to take notice of B2B partners making the effort to simplify their lives through technology.
With a channel sales incentive Mobile App, you can communicate with channel partners easily and immediately so that your brand and your incentive program stays top of mind.[/ezcol_1half] [ezcol_1half_end][/ezcol_1half_end]They can receive a push notification about a new product promotion, photograph an image of a sales claim for a qualifying product, send the image to you and receive reward points—all within a matter of minutes. These tools and capabilities fit in with the expectations and behaviors that B2C online and mobile convenience has taught consumers.
It’s inevitable that technology and the easy access of information online will continue changing B2B customer and channel partner behaviors. The good news is that online incentive program technology makes it easy for you to keep up with these changing behaviors. By rewarding and recognizing partner loyalty, tracking performances to enhance your marketing strategies, providing convenient methods of gaining product knowledge and using mobile apps, you can prove to be a responsive and trustworthy channel partner. When information about your products, services and policies is easy to access and interesting to engage with, sales channel partners will perceive you as a true digital-age brand.