Why Channel Loyalty Matters – And What You Should Do About It

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Within partner sales channels, loyalty matters. Here’s why - When your sales channels lead with your products, they sell more of your products – to more of their customers. There are front line reps talking to customers and prospects every day, and making decisions to quote your products and services…or your competitors’. Are those reps quoting your brand, with increasing frequency? Measure loyalty at the sales rep level rather than the partner organization.  Execute programs that directly influence reseller sales reps to build their knowledge and competence across your product portfolio and sell your products more frequently.  Shift share from your competitors and build incremental loyalty and revenue in the sales channel.

Partner loyalty is more ‘at risk’ than ever before. Current indicators:

  • Vendors are looking for new partners as they move to the cloud. Your competitors may be recruiting your partners.
  • Vendors moving to a channel model from a direct model are also competing for your partners (e.g. Dell).
  • Companies going through significant M&A activity create uncertainty that opens distribution channels up to new opportunities. (E.g. IBM selling System x to Lenovo and IBM partners assessing the future with Lenovo vs Dell vs HP, etc.)
  • Vendor business models are becoming more complex and smaller resellers aim to reduce the number of vendors they represent when relationships require too much ‘overhead’. Don’t put your loyalty at risk because you are not ‘easy’ to do business with.
  • Partner Account Managers for vendors are spread so thin, they often cannot effectively cover all their partners and reps – many partners/reps are exposed and open to an alternative vendor who might be more supportive. Note: there are a number of effective ways to better enable Partner Account Managers to extend their reach.
  • The overall partner base has been shrinking.

Can you risk it?

If 10% of your channel partner’s reps shifted focus to a competitor, what would that cost you?

Build channel loyalty with the sales rep.

Assuming you regularly deliver on your brand promise to your end users, offer a comprehensive portfolio of products and services that align with market opportunity and offer the business planning and support resources that partners need…how do ensure you have the selling reps leading with your brand? Loyalty programs ensure continuity of relationship. Vendors want competent and confident channel partner reps. Vendors rely on their channel partners for sales and market share growth. Drive enablement and loyalty and you will drive revenue and share.

And what does it take to continually strengthen channel partner loyalty?

  1. Ensure your loyalty program builds mind share and market share with the sales rep directly - don’t rely on the partner’s executive management to share your message. Partner communications – direct to rep - are key to shifting share to your brand.
  2. Be strategic in designing loyalty incentives. Consider the entire sales cycle from opportunity identification through deal progression to closing the sale. Determine the activities you must influence and associate an incentive value. One of our clients generated 795 new opportunities in one of their programs, through their channel partners – over $16 million in pipeline.
  3. Recognize and reward for successful completion of training. Build the competence and confidence your channels need to lead with your brand.
  4. Your loyalty program must be easy to use for partner owners, partner reps and your own channel marketing team. Too many programs are running on 10 year old platforms that can’t meet today’s needs or require intensive manual intervention. Programs fail when supporting technology fails, customer service is not available, claims processes are cumbersome, and payment processes take too long.
  5. Make sure your programs can scale. We’ve seen programs that are released to one reseller and not across all resellers – the vendor sees success, but the program is not scalable due to inefficient processes.

Get the Actionable Insights

Use a single platform to drive communications, training and testing, sales incentives, incentive claim validation and reward fulfilment.  The analytics and reporting will drive actionable insights you can easily use to make smart decisions to drive your growth. Want to learn more? Give us a call, schedule a demo, or review our white paper – 7 Questions You Should be Asking About Your Channel Sales Incentive/Loyalty Program.

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