PRM Best Practice: Motivation & Incentivization – Being the Vendor of Choice


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Channel partner sales people are like any other. They prefer to sell brands that they know and trust and that require a minimal amount of selling to get the deal. They are also much happier having the vendor create demand for their products in the market without having to do all of the work themselves. With this in mind, here are a few recommendations:

  1. Generate demand and be seen to do it. Whether your marketing budget is $1,000 or $1,000,000 per month, give your channel advance notice of what you will be marketing, to whom, when and via which medium. This makes it much easier for them to capitalize on your activities with their customers. Give them the opportunity to leverage your marketing investment with sales and marketing efforts of their own. This sounds obvious – but channel partners are usually the last to find out about vendor campaigns! If you can share your campaign materials with them and even let them customize and execute joint campaigns of their own, all the better.
  2. Allow brand-hijacking. Your branding campaigns do little to drive demand but they do create brand awareness and brand association. Partners will prefer to work with vendors whose brand values are closely aligned with their own or where they can only aspire to have such brand values themselves. Quality, reliability, innovation, performance, speed. Think about this because if your brand image isn’t one that your channel may want to share, they will be less inclined to proactively sell and market on your behalf. Share your branding campaigns with your channel as well your demand generation campaigns. Let them hijack your brand campaign and turn it into a direct demand generator by supporting co-operative marketing activity.
  3. Channel demand to your best partners. When a customer is influenced to buy as a result of your website or closed-loop marketing campaign, direct them towards your partners to fulfill that demand. If you don?t have a partner locator tool on your website yet – get one. Customers won?t dial your 0845 number and hold for an agent to find out where they can buy, they may simply go elsewhere. Modern partner locators don?t just search on postcode. This is because geographic proximity is only one profile attribute of many. Such a tool needs to match customer size, horizontal and vertical market, product requirement, value added services requirement and so on and it must search against your most recent and most accurate partner database. It should also offer the customer a choice and notify the selected partner(s) that a referral has been made encouraging them to proactively follow it up.
  4. Give the leads to closers. If your marketing campaigns generate sales leads, make sure that they are given to the most appropriate person (a closer) within the most appropriate partner without delay. Impose an SLA for lead recipients to respond and contact the customer and monitor the lead until it is closed whilst offering your support to the partner to close it. Reduce the amount of manual intervention within the lead management process in your own company. Celebrate success and reward closers with more leads.
  5. Accept leads from partners and reward their transparency. If a partner sales person registers deals in progress with you early in the sales cycle, it allows you to offer support or intervene to help win them. Make the registration process simple and available online. Make it easy for the partner to update deals and request physical or pricing support. If a deal is won, reward the partner generously and if someone else poaches the deal on price, reward the registrant anyway. You probably wouldn’t have won it without them. Some vendors struggle to get partners buy in for programs such as this due to a lack of trust or motivation. Make it worth their while, apply your rules for consistently and you will benefit from more new business, greater partner loyalty and a very comprehensive sales pipeline.
  6. Keep it simple. In countless partner satisfaction surveys, there are a number of consistent stand-out comments made by partners. They say that they like to work with vendors who are “easy to do business with”.
  7. There is nothing wrong with being disciplined, well organized and even process-driven but being bureaucratic and forcing your channel partners to endure excessive and painstaking administration or to jump through hoops unless absolutely necessary will demoralize and de-motivate them. Before applying any practice to your partners or mandating any business process, think first if it will benefit the partner, consider alternatives and if none exist. Needless bureaucracy is the preserve of the market leader. If you are not one, keep it simple!
  8. It’s nice to be nice. Your corporate culture and partner-facing demeanor matters too. Your channel partners want to be treated with fairness, respect and courtesy. And no- one likes an arrogant vendor. These things really do matter and can make a significant impact upon the levels of motivation your partners exhibit towards working with you. As individuals we prefer working with people we like or who are like us. As vendors, we should always ensure that we are:
    • Respectful
    • Courteous
    • Consistent
    • Supportive
    • Flexible
    • Easy to contact
    • Sales- and marketing-led
    • Keen to “do a deal”

Next week we’ll be looking at the various program alternatives in “Show me the money!”.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mike Morgan
Mike has over 20 years of ICT, OA and CE channel sales and marketing management experience and is responsible for Relayware's global go-to-market strategy as well as the sales and marketing functions while overseeing the company's operations worldwide. Mike is recognized as one of the industry's leading experts in indirect go-to-market strategy best practice.


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