More and more businesses are relying on channel partners to get their products out to the right customers. Why wouldn’t they? It’s an additional way of getting their product out to even more people! Think of it like this…
Your car’s tyres need replacing, so you take it to the garage. Bob, the guy who works at the garage, is on hand to help. He recommends a particular brand of tyres, let’s call them ABC Tyres. You agree to getting these tyres; after all, Bob is the expert! He knows his stuff, right? Although he doesn’t work for ABC Tyres, he acts as an external salesman, a brand advocate - a channel partner! And because Bob plays a significant role in boosting ABC Tyres reach, it’s important they invest time in training him with the latest product information. Nobody wants a salesperson to be selling the wrong stuff!
Now taking it back to your business, you should be investing time in your external sales network too. Training them with the latest product information means they’re even more familiar with your brand.
Excellent training can be achieved with the right tools. With a centralised hub that helps you standardise the training experience, highlight goals, and align KPIs, your sales channel partners can become true experts on your brand. Empowered with all the resources and knowledge to smash their sales targets, your distributors will feel supported and motivated. And in return for them investing their time in training, you should reward them for this behaviour. Let them know that you appreciate their commitment to your business.
However, there's one crucial factor that no training programme can succeed without. Engagement.
To help you, we have some key suggestions for creating an engaging sales channel incentive programme.
Give the right incentive
It might sound obvious, but this is often where many companies go wrong. There isn't a one-size-fits-all reward; each individual in your sales network is different, and to offer a universal prize for the effort they put in is a bit like saying, "Thanks for all the hard work, but you’re not that special."
Why not consider a non-cash reward of their choice? An experiential reward that can immerse them in an activity that they enjoy doing, perhaps with friends or family. Restaurant, holiday and event vouchers help people create memories –– memories that they'll associate with your company because it was through their affiliation with your brand that they were able to obtain this experience. So be sure to offer a personalised reward that's really going to pique their interest and give them that extra nudge to complete their training tasks.
Don't make them jump through hoops
Your sales channel partners are busy; after all, it's likely that they sell the products of numerous other companies too. If your incentive scheme has too much red tape or requires too much effort, they're unlikely to carve out the time for your training.
Also, be sure to make the targets achievable. Your training programme has to be accessible, easy to follow and quick to complete. Design your tutorials, quizzes and learning material in a way that's going to be easy to digest and process.
Show them their progress
Since your products and services are (hopefully) always improving, and new campaigns will be launched, upskilling on product and sales knowledge requires a continuous commitment from distributors. Still, your sellers will want to see how they’re growing and improving.
Set achievable targets and objectives out for your campaigns and let your channel sales partners see what it is they're working towards. This will help them feel invested in the success of your business and highlight the value of training and staying up to date on all developments.
Use a points-based system
Allocating points for training or achieving targets is a great way to help participants keep track of progress. Once the points start tallying up, they can redeem them for a reward of their choice. A points-based system will keep things in perspective and provide that extra bit of motivation as distributors can see they’re getting closer to claiming their reward, and their effort is paying off.
Analyse and report on incentive programme success
Your incentive programme should give you some truly invaluable data. By reviewing the frequency of logins and the level of interaction that sales partners have with your training content, you can see whether your programme is working. If not, you can make quick changes to refocus attention and get the necessary engagement to get things back on track. The same way, it can help identify products that are low on sales and may need that extra boost.
Segment your audience
Segmenting your distributors means you can make the content within your incentive programme unique to that particular group. You can target them with specific marketing messages and make the value of the rewards relative to their group. You could also segment individuals based on targets. People with higher targets or more selling potential can see different messaging, and even rewards, than those in a lower group.
Assess on quizzes and through gamification
If your training programme feels more like the path to a PhD rather than simply improving the seller's knowledge of your brand, you're bound to scare the users away.
Gamification and quizzes are practical tools for capturing the attention of sellers and encouraging uptake. You can use anonymous leaderboards to promote some healthy competition and help users to feel good when they get a high score. If you’re using points, you can even give them a little reward for paying attention and learning about your products!
If you're keen to see what a channel partner rewards platform can do for your company's training initiatives, then why not book a free demo with us? We'll show you how the Incentivesmart solution can help align distributor training with your company's KPIs and achieve your long-term goals through your sales network.