Imagine you’re in a shop looking for a new laptop. You really like this particular one from brand A, but there’s one from brand B that also has your interest. A salesperson asks if you need any help, so you ask for their advice on which laptop is best. They seem to know everything about brand A, but they go a little quiet when asked about brand B.
Now imagine you work for brand B, and you’re a fly on the wall. How frustrating would this be, knowing that there’s a fantastic sales opportunity here, but your salesperson doesn’t know the answers? But it may not be their fault. Perhaps brand B hasn't supplied them with the right support and resources they need to convince the seller to choose that one.
Without the right support and resources, distributors will have a tough time convincing buyers that yours is the brand to trust. In fact, to avoid coming up against questions they can't answer, they may even feel discouraged from putting your products forward.
When your marketing team is truly plugged into the sales process and the needs of your distributors, they're able to deliver all the necessary tools that will facilitate efficient, optimised sales and eliminate much of the seller's daily frustration.
These efforts result in long-term growth and success for your business because the trust-based relationship you establish with distributors trickles down into the quality of service they provide to the end-user.
To learn how to improve the partnership with your dealers, we've outlined six essential steps.
1. Outline goals, visions and metrics
The relationship between the sales network and marketing team should always be driven by a common vision. If the two have different focuses, your customer receives a mixed message, and the end result is a decline in product knowledge, morale, and perception of your brand, ultimately resulting in lower sales.
Start by defining what success looks like to your company, and help distributors get on board with this goal. Your distributor should be as invested in your vision as you are; otherwise, their sales process may become half-hearted and inauthentic.
2. Define your expectations
Putting everyone's expectations on the table and agreeing on the terms and conditions will help prevent friction in the future. Set out your service level agreements (SLAs) and define what everyone's role will be.
Your dealers will appreciate your transparency, and it will make your working relationship far more productive and purpose-driven.
3. Use reward programmes to build loyalty
Channel incentive programmes help establish and maintain strong relationships with distributors. By rewarding your partners for their efforts, you stay top of mind, encouraging loyalty and positive association with your brand. Getting something special and personalised in return for all the effort they've put in will help boost engagement with your campaigns and uptake of new promotions you're rolling out.
Use this engagement to then align your distributors with your brand values. Communicate and educate them on why you do what you do, and why your products are the way they are.
4. Make the programme easy to adopt
Your distributors are busy. They also have other brands on their radar. Therefore, your partner programme needs to be easy to understand and participate in. Make the objectives clear and ensure that the conditions for getting rewarded are clearly laid out.
Too much admin, complicated steps that require high levels of involvement or time commitment will act as a deterrent. So keep things simple and straightforward. Provide adequate training in the onboarding process (short how-to videos are great here!) and keep reminding distributors of the benefits that come with using the platform you’ve chosen to run your incentive programme through.
5. Don't let them sell alone
Selling requires interpersonal skills, knowledge and confidence in the products you're promoting. Equipping distributors with e-books, case studies, and other educational resources will provide the backup they need to build compelling use-cases for your brand and validate the benefits to the customer. Be sure your sales channels can access these resources easily, so they have reliable reference material on hand.
When your product is supported by a wealth of useful information, dealers will naturally gravitate towards your brand when making recommendations.
6. Ask for input
Two-way communication plays a huge role in the success of a sales channel rewards programme and, ultimately, the outcomes you hope to achieve by having one in place. You should always treat the relationship with your distributors as an opportunity to learn.
Tap into your dealer's knowledge about your customer base so that you can enhance your products, create better upsells or discontinue something that's not working. Check in to see whether they're enjoying using your incentive programme and ask for ideas on how to serve their needs better. Vendors that listen to their sellers build stronger relationships and a deeper understanding of their market overall.
To position your brand amongst the top contenders in your sector, streamlining your sales and marketing efforts is a must. An incentive programme can help you promote company values, campaigns and initiatives to your sales channel, acting as a conduit for communication and information. The right reward platform will collect data, host essential sales and training resources, and provide distributors with a stream of updates and communication to make selling easy and enjoyable.
To find out how Incentivesmart can help you support your sales network, schedule a free demo here.