Achieving Channel Loyalty Means Rewarding Closed Deals is not Enough

April 17, 2015 Claudio Ayub

Channel loyalty in the cloudIn this era of business model transformation to the cloud – and hybrid models – channel incentive and channel loyalty marketers must redesign their incentive programs to support more than deals won and quarterly revenue goals.

Top performing vendors are providing incentives throughout the sales cycle, moving from transactional incentives to a behavioral incentive model. This new model is designed around lead generation, lead follow-up, lead qualification, early opportunity registration, and sales stages through to the close. Incenting the right behaviors is especially important given the speed at which business model transformation – from a traditional transactional model, to a cloud or recurring revenue model – is happening.

Pre-sales enablement is key

Achieving channel loyalty requires the partners gain the sales and marketing skills required to effectively sell your new products in the cloud model. Pre-sales enablement is moving beyond product and sales training and beginning to offer marketing certification that enable partner’s to effectively drive demand. However, getting partners to participate in partner-led demand generation programs, requires a concerted effort to engage partners on enablement to lead them to the specific activities you want them to execute.

Most vendors today offer a marketplace of pre-packaged, configurable marketing campaigns – marketing-in-a-box, if you will. These pre-vetted programs are uniquely designed to support a vendor’s go-to-market initiatives, and can be ordered by the partner with a simple point-and-click.  These marketplaces are designed to be used by the partners’ marketing manager, a new persona to incent in the vendor/partner relationship.

This new persona within partner organizations -who are designated as marketing leads- should be the primary participants in a marketing certification and incentive program. This designation may overstate these individuals’ roles in many instances, because fewer than 10 percent of B2B resellers actually have dedicated marketing resources, according to Sirius Decisions.

Allocate the reward where the effort is being made.

Educate marketing associates at the partner level on how to find and use assets within the vendor’s own marketing portals to drive better awareness and adoption of these tools. Then reward these individuals substantially, for training on how to use the tool, piloting a few of these marketing campaigns in-a-box

Marketing certification ensures that the partner’s marketing manager gains exposure to key marketing skills and commits them to a learning process where they must engage directly with – and in turn grow closer to – the Vendor. Sirius Decisions research indicates partners are three times more likely to respond to a demand creation program offer, after engaging in some form of marketing training.

Having completed the training and certification, vendors need to follow the steps below, so the desired behaviors (and desired channel loyalty) will be repeated.

  • Communicate: Make offers to partners as soon as they complete their training and certification.
  • Educate: Guide partners each step of the way when engaging in lead-generating activities.
  • Measure: Include ROI metrics in the description of each marketing play so partners know what to expect.
  • Reward: Once a partner’s marketing associate becomes certified, and has executed a targeted number of these marketing plays, move away from individual incentives and reward the partner with incentives that can be used to purchase more marketing plays.

Remember, if your goal is to change behavior, you have to tell people what to expect, when and why,  then give them the skills and knowledge, measure change, and reward accordingly for the behavior to be repeated.  

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About the Author

Claudio Ayub

Chief Strategy Officer Claudio Ayub brings over 20 years of global channel marketing experience to Perks.He has executed major go-to-market programs for a variety of vendors, including Bing, Cisco, Dell, EMC, IBM, Kaspersky, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Seagate, Symantec, and VMware among others.

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