Change is a hot topic in Channel Marketing

Posted by Mike Ryan

The recent Channel Meet Up, held in Menlo Park, California brought together some of the most progressive minds in the industry. While many ideas were put out there for discussion, the most compelling centered on the challenges and opportunities surrounding “change”.

Change has happened (and continues to come at us) rapidly. Spawned by new technologies, expectations are also being elevated. Constant change requires organizations to reexamine and readjust how they go to market, including how they think about their sales programs and SPIFs.

CR Worldwide is in the incentive business. We help companies grow by rewarding behaviors from the people most valuable to their businesses (employees, customers and partners). In other words, we focus people on the methods that are critical to a company’s growth.

Along those lines, I couldn’t help to notice how change is impacting the buyer/rep relationship. The right type of incentives are becoming more useful for firms that are implementing new changes to the way they prepare, motivate and reward their channel partners. I took away two particular thoughts from a very interactive conference.

1/ Focusing reps on the right preparation can help accelerate a buyer’s journey.

The abundance of web-based information has allowed buyers to become savvier and more prepared. Often, they know more about a product or service before they even agree to a meeting.  In today’s changing world, its incumbent upon reps to meet buyers, knowing exactly where they they might be in their decision process.  If they don’t, they are missing a valuable opportunity to build a “trusted” solutions-oriented relationship with them.

Smart companies examine the type of content that’s available to both their reps and their customers. They work to align their rep’s preparation with the buyer’s journey. No matter what stage the sale is in, their reps are prepared. They are ready to listen for key insights and ask probing questions.

These companies incentivize their reps’ learning. They have changed their reward systems to reinforce not just the outcome of a sale, but the very value-added contributions their reps bring to it. That not only accelerates a buyers’ journey, it results in faster revenue growth.

Smart companies work to align their rep’s preparation with the buyer’s journey.

Align with your channel

2/ Smart partners are prescriptive in all that they do—including motivation.

The conference included many speakers who focused on different elements of channel performance. But the most common theme that emerged, was the need to adjust one’s stance mid-flight when something is not working.

Nothing could be more important than the flexibility to reward reps based on their capabilities, their stature, or even closing their performance gaps.  One speaker talked about the three critical planks successful initiatives share; operational efficiency, innovation and expense control. Having the flexibility to set specific goals across different rep groups is the solution to an incentive that’s not working well. Prescriptive flexibility can help you accomplish more with whatever resources you have. And in the world of channel performance that can be the difference between growing an entire group of sales performers or just motivating the “A players”.

Today’s technologies capture every detail about the business. Partners know who their top, middle and below-average performers are. Setting data-driven objectives for each rep is a change that’s come. Presenting goals that are relevant, timely and attainable is not only the best way to assure that each and every rep is committed, engaged and motivated, it’s the best way to assure that you grow the entire sales population and not just the top percentile.

A 25 year industry veteran, Mike is responsible for expanding CR Worldwide’s business portfolio in the United States.