Making your B2B and Channel Incentive programs “Easy to do Business with”
Most - if not all suppliers today - are committed to be “easy to do business with” by modifying their policies, processes, and practices to make it simpler for customers and partners to do business with them. Their goal is to deliver high-value customer and partner experiences through simplified, successful interactions that improve the overall partner experience, and reduces the number of touch-points required to complete a task.
This is in response to partners who are reluctant to participate in channel incentive programs with operational processes that are overly complex or inefficient, especially if they lack perceived benefit or reward. Although process capabilities (e.g. lead/opportunity management, incentive management) are top priorities for suppliers, ease of doing business is also a top priority for partners.
In order to achieve engagement, and attain the elusive “ease of doing business” in a channel incentive program, suppliers must combine a solid business strategy with the right incentive platform, and the human experience; as partners today expect to engage with supplier-provided tools, as easily as they do with online retailers or social applications, and are looking for similar features like dashboards, reviews, and shopping carts.
Suppliers today need to engage partners and their teams as individuals!
Business model transformation has shifted the partner-supplier relationship, making it clear that suppliers need to engage partners and their teams as individuals, further complicating efforts to simplify and become "easier to do business with”. Here again the right incentive platform will empower you with an integrated approach to engagement, communication, education, measurement and rewards.
Incentives can be financial (e.g. margin, market development funds or co-op dollars) or non-financial (e.g. redeemable points, participation in lead sharing or co-marketing opportunities). Unfortunately, many suppliers reward partners only for past performance instead of using incentives to drive improvements in partner engagement, enablement and adoption.
Your channel incentive platform plays a central role in delivering ease of execution and differentiation.
The quickest way to a simple and easy partner experience starts by identifying the right incentive platform, to deliver all of your different incentive programs in one portal. The right incentive portal will resemble 3rd platform technologies and include multiple incentive modules, which are seamlessly bound to address your partner’s needs, in a way that individual components cannot deliver on their own. An integrated 3rd platform incentive portal experience will delight existing partners and attract new ones by offering a social, mobile, cloud based intuitive, and easy-to-use program interface, without complicated menus and processes, plus strong analytics.
Additional technology investments (e.g. partner relationship management platforms, learning management systems, channel marketing and management platforms) can position suppliers to improve loyalty by supporting partners with customized communications, feature-rich training offerings and easily managed demand programs. To deliver what partners need, suppliers must understand what functionality is missing and what additional functionality will have the greatest impact on partner sales and loyalty.
Suppliers must decrease partner effort to improve the partner experience, and achieve loyalty.
This simple consumerized experience delivered today, is all about the partner experience. Partners have come to expect that the websites they visit know them, know their likes and what they're interested in, and have fresh, relevant content. With today’s 3rd platform technologies the partner experience can be personalized at a very granular level, via a hierarchy editor where suppliers can recreate their entire partner ecosystem, assign roles, regions, and create groups easily.
Once a partner ecosystem is configured on the incentive portal, you are able to expose different content to different partner groups and tiers. Moreover, you can differentiate communication, participating products or services, promotions, benefits, and rule structures by simply configuring the solution around the hierarchy, without the need of a developer or your loyalty agency, all of which provides a differentiating customer experience.
Decrease partner effort to increase partner loyalty
In conclusion, successful channel incentive portals mimic online consumer experiences by delivering ease of use, an attractive look-and-feel and anytime/anywhere access from laptops, tablets and smartphones. Remember that providing a consumer-like experience and choosing the right incentive portal will substantially improve partner engagement and increase loyalty. It’s all about decreasing partner effort and improving the partner experience to increase loyalty.
About the Author
Chief Strategy Officer Claudio brings over 20 years of global channel marketing experience to Perks. He is a loyalty marketing expert with broad knowledge in strategy development, market management and channel sales planning, who has developed and executed major go-to-market programs for a variety of vendors, including AMD, Bing, Cisco, Dell, EMC, IBM, Kaspersky, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Seagate, Symantec, and VMware among others.Claudio is a management strategist with cross-functional expertise in business, finance, sales and marketing, strategic planning, and customer relationship management; an area he has excelled at by executing complex CRM implementations, customizations, and business process re-engineering for CRM applications. He keeps current with changes in technology and is passionate about the business implications of new technology. Claudio is an avid social media user and early adopter of social CRM.More Content by Claudio Ayub