What behaviors should vendors be incentivizing from their channel partners? *cough, not sales, cough

By Anna Sophie Gross Jun 6, 2016

One important point when thinking about engaging sales teams is personalization, aka targeting. Getting everyone to exhibit the same behaviour, or trying to stimulate everyone using the same incentive is a big no no.

Engagement programs need to do their very best to escape the ‘single behavior’ trap (generally speaking, this single behaviour is selling more). It should also run a mile from incentivizing activities which don’t generate a stronger relationship between your channel partner and you.

According to Incentive Federation’s 2015 Incentive Industry Research Findings, the main reason vendors implement a channel program is improving productivity, which almost all respondents said was a major aim. Other significant motivators included increasing sales of specific products – at 63% and increasing overall sales  - at 62%.

Only 19% however, cited rewarding the completion of training as a target of their program.

Driving behaviors which contribute towards your overall objectives

By focusing on sales incentives for their channel partners, B2B channel marketers are incentivizing the goal (revenue) as opposed to the behaviors that result in the goal (e.g. marketing, customer service)

The structure of programs also appear to be dictated overwhelmingly by sales quotas, which again suggests that vendors are taking a short-term sales-based approach which has been widely discredited by industry professionals, who see it as an ineffective way of generating loyalty. Less than half of vendors structure their program around goal-based earning – a much more advisable method of generating productive, skilled, satisfied and loyal channel partners.

Your company needs to really ask itself what each member of its channel needs to do to help you reach your overarching business goals and increase sales. Behaviors should be identified based on this important question.

For example, it’s a POS salesperson’s responsibility to recommend products at the moment of purchase. So, when it comes to them, an important behaviour to be incentivized is obtaining and showcasing knowledge about the item being offered. With knowledge about the product differentials and technical features, the salesperson can make product recommendations with confidence and answer any questions or queries the customer may have.

Have a little think now about how you can stimulate your sellers to reach their goals. Steer clear of rewarding them purely for sales quotas, like the huge mass of other vendors who are doing the exact same ineffective thing.

Best of market companies go further than that and put time and effort into nurturing a lasting relationship between the company and its stakeholders. Why not find out what your sales teams’ greatest pain points are and offer them training that will help iron them out? Or you could select a group of sellers who haven’t been performing very well and set them up with a ‘seller buddy’ – someone who’s been exceling and can teach them a few tricks of the trade in a friendly way.

Forrester found that channel partners really appreciate workshops, videos, podcasts, and one-on-one consulting designed to address those cloud business model issues that flummox them most – accounting methods, cash flow management, service contracting, and line-of-business (LOB) targeted marketing and selling. Ever thought about incentivizing your channel partners to consume these kinds of educative materials?

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