For a long time, using Excel and other non-cloud software for your channel incentive program was "manageable." 60% of companies today (Planful, 2019) still use Excel for their channel incentive programs. Despite the availability of Channel Incentive Management (CIM) software for their industry. Companies fall back on Excel because it's familiar, comfortable, and a cost-effective option.
Now? It no longer works. Relying on old technology when your program grows means you aren't keeping up with your competitors who have already moved on. Whenever we are under pressure or lack expertise, we resort to an unsuitable tool. But when it comes to channels sales, we need to accept that cutting corners comes at a cost.
Risk: Late Insights
Data is generated all the time as part of Channel Incentive Programs, but are you capturing accurate information at the right time? The manual nature of spreadsheets causes information to be delayed. The data isn't updated in real-time to help organizations make better decisions, such as optimizing inventory, reducing partner overpayments, and fraud (Leverage channel software to scale Partnerships or Build ecosystems, Forrester Research Inc., June 25, 2020). Often time, companies don't know what data points they need. Poor operational decision-making can cost companies upward of 3% in profits (Gartner, 2018). Excel falls short in its ability to provide the time-sensitive insights needed.
Data is updated instantaneously with a CIM. They enable decision-makers to assess partner performance down to the level of individual channel reps and gain valuable insights to make informed decisions. Unlike Excel, there is no waiting. You can react fast.
CIM automates the processing of all claims and tracking training, incentives, and other essential data points. The data from the Channel is combined and cleaned, reducing the number of manual processes. CIM software simplifies the channel rewards program by offering reports on key performance indicators (KPIs) and statistics to help you understand your partners and plans.
Risk: Business Continuity
Running your channel incentive program on spreadsheets exposes it to hacks, data loss, and irregular downtime. Anything can happen at any time. Your information must be safe, secure, and easily accessible. If your incentive program isn't designed with business continuity in mind, you risk losing years of data, infrastructure, and trust. Excel isn't designed to handle the business continuity functions that are required.
CIM is built with cloud solutions and business continuity in mind, so you and your partners can keep doing business regardless of what happens. Professional services will be provided behind the scenes to ensure that your program continues to run in any unforeseen circumstances, such as staff vacations, disasters, and more. To keep your software operating, CIM has data redundancy and secure storage. It's your Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C.
Risk: Boring Channel Experience
Excel was designed for accountants and the general public, not channel partners and sales representatives. Personalization is noticeably lacking. Many firms pay extra attention to their top salespeople while neglecting the remaining 95%. Spreadsheets don't provide feedback, training, or customization to salespeople. They'll leave because they'll feel like just another number in your system.
CIM platforms are built with salespeople in mind. Channel reps have access to dashboards, customizable modules, gamified training, and more. This provides representatives with the individualized experience they need to succeed in your channel program and retain them.
You don’t want to be running around trying to find workarounds for your incentive program using spreadsheets. CIM software works for you, not against you, unlike Excel and similar programs. With CIM software, it’s automated, granular, and robust. Which one do you want to run your incentive program? A or B?
Are you looking to make the switch? For over 20 years, we have helped companies transition from Excel with our end-to-end Channel Incentive Programs.
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- The Growing Fear of Excel and Finding An Excel Replacement. (2019, December 31). Planful. https://planful.com/blog/the-growing-fear-of-excel-and-why-its-finally-nearing-extinction/
- McBain, J (2021, January 12). Channel Software Tech Stack 2021. https://go.forrester.com/blogs/channel-software-tech-stack-2021/