How can I use learning-based incentive promotions to teach partners to generate demand?
According to SiriusDecisions Command Center™ data, sales and partners still have significant challenges connecting offerings to buyers’ needs. One of the top reasons and challenges is the misalignment of the partner sales process to the digitally connected buyer's journey.
If you think about it, partners typically use an activity-based sales process that came with their Salesforce CRM or PRM tool, which was most likely purchased a number of years ago. These partners are still relying on an activity-based opportunity management tool and that activity-based sales process is totally disconnected from the buyer's journey.
Understanding your end-customer's buyer's journey and teaching partners how to engage buyers by aligning their sales cycle to the buyer's journey is vital to the success of your partners in this digitally connected, end-customer environment.
Now, engaging throughout the end-customer's buying cycle requires a completely different mindset, as now buyers expect suppliers, vendors, business-to-business resellers and all of their ecosystems to be at the right place, at the right time—be it digital or physical. This is a real challenge.
To address this challenge, you have to start by describing to partners the common questions that customers will ask at each stage of that buyer's journey.
Common questions and objections can be inserted into a marketing playbook or described to partners and stored in the partner portal for later use. The objective is to describe the buyer personas who participate at each state of that buyer's journey. Then describe to the partner which assets they can use to meet that buyer's specific requirements.
Next, you must help partners understand what type of demand they will be creating with prospects, which will determine their overall marketing and sales approach.
When it comes to play execution, teach partners where to find the assets and how to use them when executing marketing programs. If they are going to apply MDF funds to request individual tactics or plays from a menu, show them how to access that menu and what process to follow.
Also, you need to help them understand what is included in each play they select, the duration of the play, and the reporting expectation.
Provide measurements and feedback on individual performance to reinforce the desired partner behavior. Remember, people need continuous feedback on their personal progress and the success of the program to keep engaged in it and modify their behavior towards those objectives.
This is easier said than done so our recommendation is to create sales and marketing certification promotions where you reward partner sales and marketing associates for learning about the buyer’s journey, demand type, and multi-touch lead nurturing. Marketing certification ensures that partners gain exposure to key marketing skills that they sorely need and commits them to a learning process where they must engage directly with the vendor. This is a good thing, because engagement these days is pretty low.
Reward individuals substantially for training and learning how to use your tools, piloting a few of these campaigns-in-a-box and loading the proof-of-performance. Rewarding these sales people, marketers or in some cases, a team member that is neither, but just fulfills the role, will result in increased utilization and demand generation. Although these incentives cannot compensate for the absence of an easy-to-use CRM tool or an effective campaign offering, they can definitely be effective as part of a holistic strategy for improving partner engagement on both the organizational and individual levels.
You will only need to pay individual incentives once because you won’t keep rewarding that partner for executing a number of plays. You can also do rewards on a per-campaign basis.
Again, the reason for this is that these campaigns should yield results that will earn the partner’s marketing person top recognition within that partner company.
You have to keep this in mind: In many instances, recognition is as important, if not more important, than the incentive itself. Remember, you have to allocate the reward where the effort is being made to accomplish your objectives.
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