KEY ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL PARTNER ENGAGEMENT
In Channel marketing, it is imperative to build and maintain partner engagement. However, building and maintaining partner engagement also comes across as the biggest challenge for principal companies.
A product needs to be readily available in the market for sales to take off. Product placement is the first thing that needs to be done; other factors of marketing will only kick in after the product is available. Therefore, companies rely heavily on retailers and partners. In order to ensure the success of all the parties/partners involved, effective partner communication and engagement is pivotal. Moreover, some partners may have multiple principal companies for the same segment of the product. This situation warrants that the principal company should have solid engagement or channel partner program that helps to build partner engagement and loyalty.
There are a few essential tips to bear in mind when formulating and executing a channel partner programs. These tips can guarantee success if followed religiously.
Personally, we all build relationships. This is also true professionally since when strong relationships are built, all the parties get satisfaction and value to some extent. This isn’t as easy and simple as said since the relationship is a two-way street. In some relationships, only one party benefits and the other does not gain any value. The same holds true in principal company and the channel partners. Channel partners should be treated as an offshoot of the brand itself.
‘Listen’ to partners and regularly follow-up
Relationship invariably involves two-way communication. Brands need to ‘listen’ to the partners and engage in dialogue. Channel partners are closer to market, closer to customer and more exposed to the competition. Therefore, it’s imperative to listen to them to understand their challenges and problems. More often than not, brands leave the listening to the Channel Managers only. However, there is no structural way to have dialogue. What if a designated Channel Manager is on leave or quits the company. Such a situation is inevitable and leaves gap in the communication. Hence, it makes sense that brands should have scalable and continuous dialogue with or without the Channel Manager.
Designing responsive channel partner programs keeping channel partners’ needs in mind.
The brand needs to invest towards understanding the channel partners, their requirements and difficulties. This exercise will help the brand to come up with channel partner programs that take care of needs and challenges of the partners. Needless to say, when principal company takes care of channel partners, they, in turn, help them sell more to the customer. Eventually, this results in an improved return on investment (ROI) for the brand. If one principal company does not take care of partner’s needs, some other principal company would, and the channel partner’s focus will shift.
Constructive suggestions from Partners
Ask for productive suggestions from partners to help you sell more. The marketing material provided by the principal company may not be sufficient as it may be useful to the end customer and not to the partners. Pushing irrelevant marketing material isn’t a good idea and you run the risk of losing partner’s trust. Ask partners to provide their inputs and create material that can help them sell more to the end customers. Open communication will help them gain confidence in your product. Make them feel important and valued, and they will participate more in channel partner programs.
Empower Channel Managers
Channel managers are the one to provide partners with the tools and resources they need to make the most of the brand’ marketing material. Show the benefits of programs to channel managers and provide them with the means using which partners and value-added resellers can be engaged and kept interested. The more programs promote, the better it is. This will invariably lead to more leads, more sales and of course, better ROI. In order to create partner loyalty, partner commitment is crucial, and this is the most important factor. A well-thought and implemented channel partner program is what encourages the partners to remain committed and motivated. Empower channel partners and let them be experts on your products and solutions. This will help them represent your products with confidence leading to increased revenues and generate enhanced ROI.
If you put this list of channel incentive scheme to use smartly, you can encourage partners to buy more and put their best foot forward. It’s time to revisit your channel incentive schemes and customize them to suit your objectives and of course make partners motivated and keep them in high spirits.