Maintaining partner engagement to drive revenue is always challenging, but today’s current global instability makes it even more so. While it may seem like an uphill battle, difficult times such as these are the best time to give your partners recognition and offer redirected support. It is a crucial gesture that will show your partners that they were right in making a commitment to your brand.
Offering support that differentiates you from your competitors and that flexes to show consideration of the shared market challenge is key. Afterall, the brands that support their partners during this period are most likely to maintain their loyalty and avoid losing partner mindshare as we come through this and beyond. Here are some ideas to consider as you create a plan to support your partners.
- Adjust your program to adapt with present market conditions and solution/vertical selling requirements. For example, with social distancing measures in place events are not happening, consider how you can realign event budgets (both marketing and sales) or allocate event MDF funds to other partner engagement activities to maintain partner sales and loyalty. Maybe put some emphasis on joint business planning to help both parties be as successful as they can over the forthcoming months or develop pre-packaged campaigns to assist easier or different solution demand generation. These adjustments allow you to better support your partners while making budget adjustments.
- Encourage the right partner behaviors. Yes, focus on initiatives that drive behaviors across the full buyer’s journey within your partnership teams, but don’t limit your thinking to proportioning incentive funds across channel programs—MDF, Rewards, Rebates—to achieve optimal results. Consider which areas, within these programs, that may serve you best in these times. Think about focusing rewards around skilled training, marketing certification, digital marketing uptake, or tactical promotions focused on specific device sales being driven by the increase in remote working.
- Be there for your partners. Consider the place your partners are in. Understand that some partners may want to accelerate their pace, others may want to slow things down or alter operations, and some are working out simply how to stay afloat! It is important to listen and communicate with your partners to show you are taking care of them through this time. Ideas include: CAM video call-ins offering support, a weekly top tips email, communication on business continuity and how to be successful together, and as previously mentioned, joint business planning.
- Ease the burden of partners grappling with the operational and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just as airline and hotel chains are allowing loyalty members to carry their rewards through the year, consider the benefit of delaying partnership competency certification requirements and renewals.
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