Achieving performance and consistency inside today’s decentralised channel

Posted by Dan Kelly

The ever-accelerating pace of technological innovation, personalisation and the corresponding decentralisation of channel is presenting a new challenge for vendors. It’s estimated 73% of businesses purchase online due to convenience, and that 17% of all B2B transactions may occur online by 2023, while channel risks losing its top place in the buyer journey.

As the channel becomes increasingly decentralised, vendors are under more pressure and are consequently competing for share of voice and mind-share across an ever more varied channel eco-system.

The channel is changing, but there is a potential solution in data analytics. Harnessing data from performance programmes allows companies to adjust to these changes and improve partners’ performance in the channel.

The challenges of decentralisation

The traditional channel – a chain from manufacturers down to resellers – has in recent years exploded into a breadth of different avenues, meaning there is less centralization, the ecosystem is becoming wider, and less central. As channel partners are split into different avenues, they become separate from each other – workers become decentralised.

In light of this, more and more IT vendors are having to accept that the way people buy their tech is drastically changing. Marketplaces like Amazon allow consumers to get recommendations, research their products, and make a purchase all in one place, bypassing the traditional reseller route. Similarly, specialist system installers and consultancies also bypass traditional resellers.

With so many more companies in the channel, scale becomes a huge challenge for vendors. Getting across the value of their product compared to competitors, although becoming more and more essential, simultaneously becomes more difficult with increased competition, decentralisation and target consumers. Staying at the front of people’s minds in such a marketplace is challenging, and channel partners become split and isolated from each other.

Vendors are using smart data to automatically record and reward performance across the channel eco-system

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Bringing teams together

To overcome these challenges, pioneering companies in prominent channel sectors – like hardware and cloud technology – are now using smart data to automatically record and reward performance across the channel eco-system. For example, CR worked with Honeywell – the smart home and security solutions company – to introduce a performance programme for partners. The programme let partners receive points based on the achievements they fulfilled. These points could be redeemed for prizes in the integrated rewards catalogue.

The result was a 1447% increase in sales claims logged, showing how a centralised rewards scheme brings together decentralised workers. Staff loyalty is an essential part of any organisation, and it’s clear that rewarding workers fairly is key to encouraging staff positivity.

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Incentivising your employees

Companies are also using data to tailor incentivised learning and incentives for diverse sales channels, as well as making rewards programmes more personal. Data is being used to design personalised travel incentives, from eco-tourism to extreme sports, to boost sales performance. This live data is giving organisations real-time visibility over distributed sales performance, and the success of channel education programmes. Personalising a participant journey, making it relevant to them, allows them to feel more engaged, and therefore leads to greater productivity.

At Nuance, CR recommended launching an online channel loyalty programme. The programme was designed to focus partner activity to align with business needs; partners would be incentivised to log sales opportunities and drive conversations through the sales process. For incremental sales, fulfilling objectives gave partners desirable rewards, encouraging repeat behaviour. Influencing micro-behaviours with incentive programmes can lead to better outcomes for manufacturers, and communication plays a big part in this, especially with data. Programmes should communicate with individuals to gain accurate data on their interests, to better personalisation.

Growing customisation

Trends like data analytics are creating more personalisation of products for specific audiences. Data is paramount to the success of incentive programmes, as it can reveal the trends contributing to the success of the company, in turn impacting real-time sales.

The channel is constantly diversifying, with many micro-industries emerging, composed of specialist consulting firms, to serve niche markets. With the speed of technological changes occurring, and customer demand for instant and customised solutions, manufacturers relying on a distributed network of leaner and more agile solution providers.

HPE came to CR needing to bolster efforts for a new drive to increased ‘converged sales’.  As this involved the cross-selling of products and services from across several business divisions, the business needed to create both awareness and excitement in order to make the effort a success. As such, CR designed an online custom incentive programme called ‘Quest for Convergence’. This involved a combination of eLearning to encourage learning for rewards, and an incentive trip for top performers.

It is clear that, when used correctly, data is a powerful tool for bringing together an ever decentralising channel, allowing companies to incentivise their staff and improve loyalty, among both partners and customers.

Online incentive programmes not only improve performance across distant and dispersed workforces but form an increasingly rich source of data on the hidden drivers behind sales across a complex ecosystem. Emerging channel sectors, such as automotive and FMCG, can benefit from adopting these tactics early. In the next few years we’ll see more companies capitalise on the growing opportunity to increase visibility of their pipeline.

To discuss how our channel incentive services can benefit your organisation, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.

As a founding partner of CR Worldwide in 2002, Dan helped develop the company from a start-up business into the multi-million global brand it is today.