A great channel partner programme gets results. Given the appropriate amount of time and investment, a successful programme can help grow your sales team, expand their collective expertise, improve the efficiency of your business and drive international growth. But what is the right amount of time? According to 24% of companies, channel partners take more than a year to become as productive as you need them to be. Granted, a year sounds like a bit of a wait, but patience pays off! Giving you 28% shorter sales cycles, 13% more sales reps hitting their targets, and 12% higher conversion rates, just to name a few benefits.
Use the data
Implementing the right channel partner programme for your business means taking a good look at all the data and insight your business collects on a daily basis. It can also help to be a little bit sneaky. As with all things in life, being the best means knowing what you’re up against. To make sure you nail it with your partner programme, we suggest looking first to your competitors. Who is their target audience? What are they offering? How well is it going? How can you blow them out of the water? Ok, perhaps that last one is too much, but honing your competitive edge never hurt anyone! Next, you need to understand the data your channel partner has on your end-user market: which demographics are buying what, where are the opportunities to upsell, and so on, You will also want to assess your channel partner’s lead behaviour. How many leads did they have and of what quality? More importantly, how many did they convert?
Give people the training and tools they need
It’s unlikely that you will have the same level of contact and influence over your channel partners as you will your internal sales reps. This makes it more challenging to engage them and teach them about your business. For this reason, it makes sense to invest resources in creating insightful content for them to support sales. These resources will also develop their understanding of your brand story and value proposition and equip them with the knowledge, confidence and motivation they need to go and smash their targets. Sales training resources can include tutorials, FAQs, example pitches and face-to-face training. To help make their job as smooth and seamless as possible, you could also give them a sales-boosting toolbox loaded with pre-written emails, templates, brochures, demos, blogs, sales presentations, information on customers and products and a reliable CRM platform. Be sure to communicate to them what operational decisions are being made on a day-to-day basis. In essence, you want them to be an extension of your in-house team, and fully understand how you envision your products being sold to a customer. Finally, we’re all about motivation, so be sure to provide certification upon completion of your education programme.
Outline your brand guidelines
Creating a strong brand standards guide is one of the single best things you can do for you channel partners. Serving as a brand bible, your standards guide should tell your partners everything they need to know about your business at a glance. You could include information on:
- Your brand mission and values
- Your target audience
- Your brand personality
- Your company values
- Your key messages
- Your brand voice
- Your visual and logo guidelines, colour palette, fonts, and anything else you feel is relevant.
But remember, to make it fun and engaging! You can’t expect people to read your whole brand document, so make sure to use the guidelines through every communication you have with your channel partners, just as you would your customers. You should live and breathe your mission and values, and encourage your partners to do the same. After all, they’re often the face of your brand to your customers!
Let them know what’s in it for them
Offering your partners fair and strategic incentives is a great way to make them feel like an extension of your team. Why is this important? If your partners feel like valued team members, rather than outsiders, they are more likely to direct their time and energy towards helping you - and, crucially, not one of your competitors.
Incentives encourage partners to stay engaged in the activity at hand and sell more products for you - and can boost sales by as much as 40%. But what kind of incentives should you offer? Non-cash rewards are proven to be more motivating and therefore valuable than cash - particularly when partners have the option to choose a reward personal to them. Speaking of a personal touch, it also pays to reward not just sales, but any actions they take that enforce your company values or show commitment to your brand, like taking certifications, for example.
Outline your expectations
Teamwork makes the dream work… Once you’ve laid the foundations for a great programme, you need to work with channel partners to make it crystal clear who is responsible for what. In an ideal world, here’s what your partners can expect from you:
- Professional pre- and post-sales support
- Training and certification
- Events and programmes
And here’s what you can expect from them:
- Business growth through sales and marketing activities
- Expertise on your business and products
- Great customer experience
- An extension of your brand to your customers
Make your programme easy to use
Your channel partners will (unfortunately) have many brands on their books. Each vendor will have their own ordering styles, invoice systems, and so on. So, set yourself apart from the competition and make yourself their favourite brand to do business with, by making sure the answer to the following questions is a YES!
- “Is my partner programme easy to follow?”
- “Is it easy to gain access to information, pricing, and technical support?”
- “Is it easy to understand the steps involved in the sales process?”
Most importantly, (well, we think so), they should make rewards simple to redeem!
Take our demo to find out how a channel loyalty rewards platform can help you report on your customer retention KPIs and demonstrate an ROI from your distributor reward programme.