When it comes to creating a great Partner Experience, how you engage people and build relationships is key. Gamification is such a powerful tool to utilise in your strategy and execution, here’s why…
Like me, I am sure that many of you have been craving meeting up with friends, colleagues and loved ones over the past few months to share experiences, laugh and have a hug.
The pandemic has made a lot of us realise the value of human connection. The value of shared experiences, of inter-connectivity.
We always talk about business and personal lives as two entirely separate things, and I have never really understood that. I understand that you need to switch off from work, focus on your wellbeing and your family. But work is such a huge part of our lives, it is by its nature highly personal. If you have a bad or a good day at work that can massively affect your mood and outlook long after the work day ends.
How we are impacted and the impression we make in our business relationships, forms a huge part of who we are and how we build relationships with the world and one and other.
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Focussing on Partner Experience
This is prevalent in how we create experiences within our working eco-systems. In our Channel sector it is a huge part of the experience we create between Vendors and Partners, to such an extent that vendors are now taking Partner Experience (Px) very seriously. The pandemic has put a magnifying glass on Px. It’s not just good enough to say you care about Px, now is the time to put words into action and show partners your really do care about how they feel and how they are impacted by their interactions with your business.
Channel Meet Up
This is why the latest Channel Meet Up ‘On-Air’ virtual event ( the 2nd in a series of 3 across the summer) decided to dedicate a whole session to Creating a Better Partner Experience for the “New Normal” and it proved a popular topic with 200+ Channel Marketers attending on the day. The event saw Vendors and Partners tuning in from UK, North America, Europe and even Australia… it turns out Px is a big deal! Catch up with the excellent panel session discussions here.
Following the debate, came the breakout sessions. My job for the day was to host a discussion group on ‘How to use Gamification to Boost Partner Engagement’, and as usual I had a great group with companies such as 8×8, Fujitsu, HID IBM and Cisco Meraki to name drop a few!
Partner Experience leads to better engagement
When it comes to creating a great Px, how you engage people and build relationships is key. In the crowded vendor/partner world being able to do that in more normal times was hard enough but now having to do things virtually… it’s definitely tough out there. This is why gamification is such a powerful tool to utilise in your Px strategy and execution.
Partner Experience leads to better engagement, which leads to better sales performance and ultimately high customer satisfaction. The key component is ‘people’. The right people doing the right things, for the right reasons from both partners and vendors will always lead to success. However, outside of the people factor you will need slicker and quicker ways to communicate, share knowledge and keep the relationship alive and thriving.
As partners have moved more into a solution provider role their need for support grows, from a technical and product knowledge base, to help with co-selling and co-marketing. A lot of this activity happens at a general business level, as vendors take a holistic approach to supporting partners. But what about the sales people who are actually tasked with finding the right opportunities and then becoming a solution expert for their customers as they guide them through the ever evolving tech world? Just look at the explosion of cloud and SaaS. A critical component of your Px strategy should be focussing on the sales individuals within the partner. Make sure that they are up-skilled, enabled, and motivated to help you sell your value and services.
As I mentioned before, this is a busy, time pressured space where complexity and cumbersome are your enemy. Using Gamification to excite interest and initiate activity with your partner sales community is paramount to your success. Just as with other ‘Go-to-Market’ activities, building in Gamification to your ‘Go-to-Sales’ activity should be seen as an investment not a cost. A cost is something you pay because you need an immediate quick fix for a problem, an investment is a longer term strategic play that you undertake to gain an incremental return or outcome.
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Some of the challenges discussed were:
- Do we believe gamification will drive better behavior in the current environment?
- How do you measure the impact and results of gamification? What are some good/bad examples?
- How do you get your channel managers engaged in driving adoption?
- How can you use gamification to drive Partner Portal adoption and encourage partners to be resourceful?
Summary of group thoughts:
- Partners are already highly motivated by rewards, so gamification can take that motivation one step further by recognizing achievement and adding an element of fun
- Gamification provides opportunity for engagement by partners and channel managers alike, allowing for a bond between the two parties. Game mechanics like level attainment, activity challenges, leaderboards, etc. make people feel like they are a part of a team, even if they may be gently competing with one another
- Gamification can be used to deliver business content or required learning, allowing for a more relaxed learning environment that feels new and interesting
- Some of our suggestions for gamification best practices are:
- Keep it simple
- Encourage healthy competition and share progress with partners
- Encourage multiple interactions – Give partners a reason to come back
- Include a meaningful prize, reward, achievement badges…keep it relevant and personal
Channel Vendor insights and experiences
A special thanks to Caroline Ward from 8×8 and Abby Payne from HID who joined us to talk about their strategy for gamification, virtual partner engagement, and more.
- Why Gamification? Does it work?
- Sales reps naturally love to be competitive, so leaderboards can be a simple gamified element
- Tends to work very well with required information, such as annual Codes of Business Conduct, training, etc.
- It can be a great way to get across a difficult message
- Acts as a community-builder, especially now when people can’t physically be together
- “Like a small rudder on a large ship, used to help steer partners in a particular direction” – Karla Ducharme from IBM, thanks for the great quote!
- Offers greater flexibility for budgeting – Using most models, you can set a specific number of winners, metrics, award amounts, etc.
- Slick, simple automation is key
- How do you involve companies vs. individuals?
- Use gamification elements that pull teams together, rather than just require an individual to perform
- Reward teams (companies) with prizes that benefit everyone, like a meal out together, paid for by your company
- How do you gamify without offering a tangible reward?
- Utilize a points-based system. That way, reps or companies have a choice to redeem something they want as a team or business
- Allows for greater compliance control as well
- Award badges or certifications – Gives partners credibility, expertise, and / or a new skill to be proud of – elevate social status
To view all the disucssions from the session, watch the live recording here.
So, another CMU ‘On-Air’ came and passed far too quickly, but as always some great content, insights and real-life examples of how great channel marketeers are at solving problems! I cannot wait for the next Channel Meet Up virtual event on July 29th 2020. Visit the CR hosted breakout room: Ready, Steady, SaaS: The secrets to energising and enabling your Partner Sales Teams. Sign up here for your free place.
To discuss how we can help build and implement new channel sales and marketing initiatives within your business, contact us today. Or check out how we have successfully implemented reward solutions in these businesses.