Here are some tips to get it done right.
You have your uber-successful sister who has her life together and is a famed cardiologist. There’s your second cousin that is academically bright but loses their wallet in their own pants. And while maybe you want to avoid “crazy Uncle Ned”, it’s important that he doesn’t feel left out. So you chat with him at the family picnic about his wild schemes and theories. Wait! Isn’t this blog about channel partner optimization, engagement, and revenue generation?
How does this relate to your channel reps? Because you need to treat them like a big blended-up family. We’re not saying you have crazy people on your channel rep roster! It’s simply a point that you need to engage with all of your reps equally. You need exemplary communication skills, empathy, and the right tools in place that allow you to boost engagement and performance for every single rep. They’ll each have different needs, and your job is to provide them with the tools and guidance in the right format at the right time. Here’s some tips for getting this done:
1. A “Rising Tide” – You Know the Rest
As the channel manager, you need to avoid playing favorites. Of course the best channel reps should reap the most financial incentives, but they otherwise should be on a level playing field. Treat all of them with respect and offer them the same tools and educational content.
You want to avoid any talk of favoritism or unfair treatment. Ensure all of your lines of communication are open for all the reps, and make time to engage with them regularly. The lowest-performing reps have the highest margin for improvement, so spend time with them to rise your group’s numbers significantly. Talk to them directly about their unfilled needs or nagging questions. Sometimes they just need an encouraging word, or were unsure how to complete a process or use your technology.
2. Engage them with Personalization
Selling to your customers with a one-size-fits-all strategy isn’t the way to do business in 2019 and beyond. We’re in an era of tailored personalization, with streamlined processes that give customers exactly the relevant information they need on demand. Your channel partner strategy also demands personalization if you expect to achieve your desired results.
Treating your reps equally is at the core of a personalization strategy. This doesn’t mean they all receive the same exact guidance or content, but that the content is personalized strategy for each of them. Give the reps different options for marketing materials so they can present the best products/services that fit their particular customers. Personalization is best achieved with technology tools, so pick the right platform (psst, it’s Channel Assist) that’s easily customizable to give reps exactly what they need, when they need it.
3. Consistent Feedback Drive Engagement and Growth
Money is of course a primary motivator for your channel reps. Part of your job is to provide them with feedback that helps them (and you) make more money. Engage in talks with all of your reps in a trusting and honest way, keeping them focused on the monetary gains that can come through improvement. As the channel manager you need to keep the same sets of data on all of your reps.
You need consistency so you can conduct proper performance comparisons and provide feedback that’s based on data instead of personal opinions. This objective and fair style means you’re more likely to spot the reasons why some reps are over or under-performing, and then offer non-biased recommendations. And remember “Feedback Drive” is a two-way street. You need to hear from all of your reps about the things you as the manager and the company itself can do better.
4. The Top Performers Need Less Help
Every channel program manager wants to develop a team of only top performers. Their dream is for 20 reps to all outperform, and bring in massive amounts of revenue. It’s an admirable goal, but wholly unrealistic. You’ll have some top people, but also some that are lagging behind. You of course won’t keep channel reps that are terrible at their jobs, just those that could use some improvement.
The top performers in your group typically need the least attention. Maybe they required more handholding and guidance in the early stages, but now they’re dialed in. You of course want to always be available to help them if needed, but most of your efforts should focus on the other reps that need a performance boost. Don’t find yourself giving too much attention to the top reps and ignoring the next tier that could use additional engagement.
We support the long tail and give you the claim management, engagement, incentives, and learning modules that will benefit every one of your channel reps. Armed with our technology and professional services, you’ll jumpstart your entire channel program with better communication, results-oriented gamified learning, and the incentives that get the reps’ attention. Talk to us about our intuitive and accessible platform that starts paying immediate dividends for channel rep performance