Partner loyalty is waning, across all sectors. Loyalty is hard to regain, when lost. So here’s how to tell if your channel partner loyalty is at risk.
A key factor driving loyalty is ‘ease of doing business’. If you’re not easy to do business with, your channel partners will not work harder to compensate, they move on. And if you’re not measuring engagement, by the time you figure it out, you may have lost some high potential partners. Consider…
So are you easy to do business with? Dig deep. Get the answer.
Consider the steady stream of announcements in your industry. Your competitors are reducing their direct sales force and moving business to the channel, faster than ever. If you’re in technology, look at Dell, IBM, SAP, Cisco, McAfee for example. They have all said they are reducing the number of accounts that they will sell direct and will drive more sales through channels. For example, Dell has announced a new channel program that launched Feb 1 that incents Dell Direct reps to push 200,000 direct accounts to channel partners. Your competitors will be going after your channel partners with one simple goal – get your partners to lead more often with the competitor’s brand. Is the loyalty of your partners, at risk?
Channel dynamics, go-to-market strategy and partner ecosystems have evolved significantly in recent years. Are your programs leading, keeping pace or lagging? A recent survey indicated that half of the companies surveyed are upgrading their technology platforms that power their programs. Are you working with legacy PRM and Loyalty platforms that don’t deliver on partner needs? Can you rapidly validate thousands of claims for sales incentives and update reseller sales reps fast enough to ensure maximum impact? Are your processes an administrative nightmare or streamlined to enable reseller reps to focus on selling your products to their customers. Are you motivating and reward channel sales reps for their sales activity that aligns with your channel sales strategies? We will focus on opportunity management and deal progression in an upcoming blog.
Engagement levels are leading indicators of loyalty. Are the engagement levels of your channel sales reps increasing or trending down? Assess at the rep level, rather than the partner organization. Three ways you can measure engagement include activity levels on your portal, participation and success in training, and alignment of sales behavior with your market strategies. Look at leading indicators. Once the quarter’s done, it’s easy to compare actual to plan – but then it’s history – you need leading indicators.
What are the growth trends in incentive rewards payout – in total, number of reps, average per rep, etc.?
If your engagement metrics are trending down, are your partners stepping up commitment to a competitor?
Reward at both the rep level and management level in your partners. You need management buy-in, yet the reps determine which products to lead with and the reps close the deals.
Support your strategy with the optimal enabling technology, analytics that deliver the insights you need for effective decisions and strong program management and communication.
Written by Barry Cohen
Barry is Vice President, Sales and Marketing for ChannelAssist.
We deliver on challenges from the largest enterprises with massive volumes, unique processes and the specialized requirements of niche vendors to emerging high growth companies with early stage programs.
Hundreds of thousands of claims processed. Millions of dollars in sales incentives validated. Year after year, we’re proven.