Don’t “Buy” your channel partners’ business, Nurture It.

Nurture-Your-Business-300x208Over the years, I’ve talked to many Channel Marketing Pros who worry that an incentive program is just a way to “buy” business. On the face of it, that almost sounds unethical (and a little bit slimy, if you ask me). While it’s true that some programs are basically designed that way, these program types usually don’t have a good long-term outcome. If you can “buy” something it means it’s for sale…  which means there will be other buyers in the future.   The channel incentive programs that typically end up providing a lasting sales lift are those that reward for “good behavior.”  By good behavior I mean actions that lead to sales or better service.  This is reflected in the fact that some program mangers have even begun eschewing the label of “incentive programs” in favor of the more benign term “integrity programs.” Whatever their name, these types of programs that reward for certain behaviors not only take your channel engagement from “slimy” to “sincere,” they also often end up yielding much higher ROIs.

To illustrate the point, I wanted to share a study shared by my friend and persuasion expert, influencer, Brian Ahearn.  Brian blogs about Influence and Persuasion at InfluencePeople.

The study is about how to get the best survey participation and to move the channel partners to invest their time to respond.   With one group of business owners a $50 reward was offered for completing the questionnaire. With the rest of the business owners a $5 check was sent to acknowledging their time was valuable and they appreciated them taking time to complete the questionnaire.

Here are the result in Ahearn’s own words, “And what were the results? You’d think the $50 offer being 10 times more would definitely get a better response but it didn’t. Only 23% of those offered the big reward filled out the questionnaire but 52% who were given the $5 gift up front complied with the request. So the response was more than twice as much in the gift scenario and there was a huge savings depending on exactly how many people cashed the $5 check. If every person, including those who didn’t fill out the questionnaire, cashed the check, the savings would be 57%. If only those who completed the questionnaire cashed the check the health company would have saved 77%! “No matter how you look at it, more than doubling the response at a substantial savings is the smart business decision.”

We see similar stories all the time in Channel Incentive Programs. We are much more likely to inspire loyalty and receive the “big order” if we reward from the beginning for smaller yet significant behaviors and Steps-to-the-Sale.  not-for-sale

Here are some examples of smaller goals that can be critical Steps-to-the-Sale.

  • Increased Deal Registration
  • Training Completions
  • Individual Sales and Goals
  • Target Prospect Engagements
  • Customer Introductions
  • POC or Evaluation Placements
  • Case Study Submittals


Remember: When it comes to Channel Marketing Programs, don’t strategize how to “buy” business, but give smaller incentives for smaller behaviors.  Those smaller incentives can accumulate and lead to BIG rewards.   And those smaller behaviors lead to BIG loyalty from you Channel Partners.

How do you design the right channel incentive program?

What are the Steps-to-the-Sale in your particular sales channel? And are you properly rewarding for your channel’s most important behaviors?

As always please reach out with questions or comments!

Move the Channel,


Transforming your Channel?  Here’s the Secret. 

change tranformThe Secret to change is to focus ALL of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.   – Socrates

This is certainly true when it comes to transforming your channel.

I’ve had many 2015 planning sessions with clients the last few weeks.  The overlying theme from these meetings and Channel Chiefs seems to be “how do I Transform my channel.”  This week alone I’ve met with two senior executives of industry-leading organizations who both suggested that transformation of their channel has become a priority.  Although this is not a new idea, most of my channel initiatives in the previous years had involved trying to inspire MORE of an existing behavior within the channel. But transforming the channel is about “Building the New”.  And it’s not just about a tweak here and a turn there. These executives want to fundamentally change how their channel partners and partner salespeople do two things: a) How their partners interact with their company, and b) How their partners Engage and sell to the end-user.

Part of the art of channel marketing is being able to influence key stakeholders in the channel without having the most powerful tool of compensation. Our channel stakeholders aren’t employees and therefore we don’t control our channel partner’s compensation plans. That being said, we do have significant control at the partner firm-level, and therefore we have the ability to adjust pricing discounts, offer rebates, and create MDF thresholds, all of which can encourage the partner to take their channel in a new transformative direction. If we want to change our business-as-usual approach to the channel, we must not be afraid to use every tool in our toolbox.

Another powerful instrument that can be used to transform your channel strategy is a wisely crafted channel incentive program. We’ve already talked about levers you have that can impact your partner at firm-levelBut what about motivating the Point Of Influence (POI) of our sale? The POI typically identifies the partner’s sales people or Sales Engineers that interface with the end-user/end-buyer and own the relationship. The question is: How do we reach and engage these important channel influencers?

With a well-designed channel incentive program we can focus on building the new and accelerating the transformation of our channel. Some transforming behaviors we can start to influence?

  • Building the New — Training. There are many different degrees of training. There is everything from “Readiness” lessons and quizzes to full-blown Accreditation programs. Of course while any readiness initiative can be rolled out in weeks, a more significant accreditation program will usually take significant time & effort. Also, we know if Partner Salespeople (POI) invest their time in these training initiatives—whether its 15 minutes or 15 hours—this mindshare WILL ultimately translate into market share.  Readiness initiatives should be hosted in your Channel incentive or engagement portals that target the POI audience.  transformational-chess-pieces
  • A New Partnership — Transformation of the channel isn’t just about how our channel goes to market but how the channel partner works and interacts with us (the manufacture or distributor). This may be asking our channel partners and channel partner salespeople to change how they engage, where they engage, and what they engage at our organization. For example, for years manufactures and distributors have been investing in various partner resources including partner portals, partner marketing automation, etc. Although these “portals” are certainly still valuable resource centers, most organizations have started to realize that the “Do it yourself” approach makes it difficult to measure the effectiveness.
  • A New message for the End Buyer — As mentioned above, the DIY approaches haven’t worked as planned. There’s a concrete need to guide our channel partners especially at the POI to market and communicate the New…. products, services, and approach.  When and how end-buyer communications are executive is often a trackable behavior and therefore one that can be incentivized in your channel engagement portal.
  • Selling to a New Stakeholder . . . the Decision Maker — It’s not only what we’re selling that is New: it’s who we’re selling to. Setting up meetings with the right people or the New decision makers is something else we can influence. With a decent CRM setting meetings with right people is a trackable behavior and therefore one that can be incentivized in your channel engagement portal.

These are just some examples of trackable and rewardable behaviors that can help you transform your channel. Remember, the Secret is to focus ALL of your energy on building the new, or what will transform your channel. A well-designed and properly managed channel incentive program can help you do that.

Have you been tasked with transforming your channel? Are you reaching the partner firm-level as well as at the Point of Influence (POI)?

As always, send me an email with questions, comments, or to set up a call.
Move the Channel,


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Delivering a Q4 Channel Promotion that is not a Dud

DChitwood_FinishStrong‘Tis the season for the BIG Q4 Push!  The time has finally come to reap the fruit of all the hard work and planning undertaken in the past year. The pressure is high to bring in as many deals as possible before the EOY, with many a bonus depending on it. Without fail, companies are trying to find that next gear to help them finish the year on a high note. But after developing your business model and making investments to achieve the aggressive growth goals set by your company and stakeholders, are you rolling out a BIG year-end Promotion Dud?

Below are five reasons why your year-end Sales Person, Channel Rep and Sales Engineer Year-End Promotion might be a Dud:

  • Expecting accelerated sales without accelerated incentive — There are many natural reasons why there are more sales closed at the end of the year, including pre-conceived sales timelines and the deadlines set by the customers themselves. But if you want a BIG lift, you need to invest in accelerated incentives for the channel. In other words, get your channel salesforce engaged & motivated with an exciting (worthwhile) award!
  • End-Buyer or End-User incentives – Offering an End of Year Incentive for a signature can seem desperate and worse has proven ineffective. Now, If you know exactly what is needed to get the end-user to buy, a custom carefully crafted incentive can be effective effective.  This is better known as negotiating.  But a blanket incentive (i.e. “buy before the end of the year and get a 10% discount”) often ends up being a serious dud. In addition to having a minimum impact on overall sales, these types of promotions make your organization look desperate and set a precedent for future negotiations.
  • Incentivizing the wrong channel stakeholder — Make sure you are incentivizing the people that actually influence the sales. These people are the people in the channel that interface directly with the end buyer. Usually these are the channel partner’s sales people and sales engineers. At Move the Channel, we call these people the POI (Point of Influence).
  • Zero Creativity — Doubling or tripling a current incentive will certainly get an audience’s attention, but if you don’t infuse your channel strategy with creative promotions, you could be missing a huge opportunity. Coming up with a something like a well-marketed “Grand Prize” or themed rewards gives you the chance to create some buzz and generate excitement.
  • First timer — Just because you’re new to the game, doesn’t mean you have to look the part. Hopefully you have an incentive platform already in place that can roll promotions and campaigns quickly and professionally to the channel.  If you don’t, you should look into working with an incentive partner who has a turnkey platform that can be configured quickly and easily be customized to your brand.2014 B.A.A. Boston Marathon

Here are some of the themed year-end promotions I’m seeing right now. Lot’s of motivation psychology applied including Cialdini’s principals of influence including:  Reciprocation, Commitment & Consistency, Social Proof, Liking, Authority, and Scarcity…. otherwise know as FOMO!

  • Take the Title!
  • Get into the Game
  • Reach for New Heights
  • Step Up to the Plate
  • Race to Riches – Horse Race
  • Escape Race
  • Second Chance
  • Crown Jewels
  • F1 – Leaderboard
  • Pacesetters 0 Americas Cup
  • Express2Hawaii
  • Track2Travel
  • 2 for the Show!

Let me know if you want to take closer look at the rule structure and promotion delivery. Or if you’re looking for other ideas on how to finish the year off strong, send me an email and I’ll forward you two of the most popular Year-End Push Campaigns this year.

Move the Channel,


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Channel Marketing Conduit: Apple just gave iPhone buyers the gift of a rockin’ U2 album.

u2_apple_bono_tim_cook_2014_l (1)2 weeks ago Apple paid U2 $100 million and distributed their new album Songs of Innocence to 500 million people – for FREE!

Of course, a bold marketing move from one of the most powerful companies on the planet is bound to attract some criticism. Everyone in the marketing world has an opinion, and those opinions regarding Apple’s strategy range from it being a huge debacle to a stroke of marketing genius.

Let’s be clear, Apple got everything it wanted out of this deal; an enhanced image, increased branding, positioning in the market, a greater global reach, and most importantly, hype. Looking to launch and sell its new products, the iPhone 6 & Apple Watch, Apple and its CEO, Tim Cook, wanted to ensure that everyone was still talking about Apple, no matter how successful or unsuccessful the new product ended up being. After all, the Apple Watch hasn’t generated the type of social conversation that Apple’s been hoping for, certainly not in the same way that Songs of Innocence landing in people’s iTunes accounts probably has.  What’s more, how many millions of people now have a better understanding of Apple’s iCloud technology? Although most of the Move the Channel audience is very familiar with the power of the cloud, there is still much educating and an album magically appearing on your phone is doing that.   It seems that Apple is getting their money’s worth right there.

As someone who designs Channel Incentive Programs, I often apply the same principles of loyalty and persuasion that Apple utilized during its campaign in order to inspire MY customers and Move the Channel. The concept behind these principles comes from a book I read, The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini.

For example, one of the proven principles espoused by Cialdini is the Principle of Reciprocity. It’s that feeling that we ought to give back to those who have given to us.  To activate loyalty and the power of Reciprocity the reward must be meaningful, customized, and unexpected.  Apple’s actions enough to trigger sentiments of reciprocity in its customers?

On top of all of the other benefits of the campaign, we have to acknowledge that this was meaningful to most, customized not-so-much, but certainly an unexpected REWARD, especially for fans of U2. But even if you don’t care for the band, or even rock n’ roll, my guess is that you still might appreciate the gesture and enjoy being part of the worldwide conversation.music2

Or should Apple have just given cash or an iTunes discount? Would that have been a more successful marketing ploy? I certainly don’t think so. What would Apple have received from this type of reward? I have to imagine that a few extra dollars in your account would not have the same impact as a free album that you could listen to over and over again. Now, every time a customer sees Songs of Innocence in their library, or hears it on their iPod, they will probably think back to when Apple gave it away to them as a reward for their continued loyalty.

As most of you in the Move the Channel community know, there is an ongoing debate about what is the right reward or incentive when it comes to engaging and growing mindshare in your channel.   The fact is that a meaningful, customized, and sometimes unexpected reward is something that can trigger the powerful Principle of Reciprocity, lead to increased loyalty, and impact future buying behaviors.

Apple had a difficult challenge coming up with a reward for its millions of diverse customers. Fortunately for those of us in Channel Marketing, our audience is much more focused, making it that much easier to engage, communicate with, and reward them when the time is right.

Should YOU be rewarding YOUR Channel Partners for their loyalty too?

As always, please send me a an email with questions or comment.

Move the Channel,


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About Travis

First Fight with your Channel Partner? Now you’re getting somewhere!

arm wrestWho doesn’t love those first idyllic months of a new relationship? You’re enamored, giddy and can do no wrong in one another’s eyes. But then whammo! One not-so-fine day the bubble bursts. He forgets a major commitment or she shows up an hour late for the third time and suddenly, instead of kissing, you’re sparring. Hello, reality.

If the above sounds like it might be the start of a blog from or some other dating advice site, it’s because it is.

Just like in personal relationships, channel partner relationships tend to go through stages of development that, although not without their challenges, can ultimately lead to healthy and mutually rewarding partnerships.

In my opinion, here is a rough outline of the 5 stages that any healthy relationship will go through:

  1. The Romance Stage
  2. The Power Struggle Stage
  3. The Stability Stage
  4. The Commitment Stage
  5. The Co-Creation or Bliss Stage

The Romance Stage is easy. If you have recently entered into an agreement with your partner, chances are to this point there has been lots of courting and a focus on all of the positives that the partnership can bring. At this stage both parties are probably excited, and may even possess some unrealistic expectations about the potential of the relationship.

Without a doubt, you should enjoy and make the most of this Romance Stage—but be careful not to stay in it for too long. The fact is that if you remain in this stage, it could mean not much actual business is getting done. If there is no friction, there is a good chance a big deal hasn’t forced you into the weeds of the partnership.  And therefore the partnership has never truly been tested.

I know this is going to sound crazy (and maybe even a bit strange), but your first “fight” with your channel partner could be the best thing to ever happen to the relationship. A fight might be a disagreement over the margin of a deal or who should “own” the end-customer relationship, etc.   Things might get a bit rocky for a time, and some partnerships might not even survive the first fight.  But you can work through it, you will have the foundation needed to build towards the highly lucrative and mutually beneficial partnership.   It isn’t until the partnership had been tested or until each party’s colors have been exposed they the relationship will enter into the Co-Creation or Bliss Stage. But remember: patience here is critical. While this final stage probably won’t be reached right after the first “fight,” it almost certainly wouldn’t happen without it.  sb10062994aa-003

The first “fight” is probably the best and most honest learning opportunity you will have with your partner. From this opportunity comes understanding, from understanding comes acceptance, and with acceptance comes a much easier path not just to longevity, but growth and success.


Are some of your best partnerships the ones that you have had a “fight’?

I wouldn’t ever go looking for a “fight”, but I might start questioning the partnerships that haven’t led to some kind of disparity or scuffle.
As always, please reach out with questions of comment!
Move the Channel,


Why Channel Marketing Is NOT A Field of Dreams

Kevin_Costner_Field_of_DreamsKevin Costner has headlined some of my favorite sports movies of all time, including Tin Cup and Bull Durham. But perhaps his most loved and best-known sports film is “Field of Dreams,” famous for the line, “If you build it, he will come.” The story involves a down-on-his-luck farmer in the Midwest who suddenly hears a mysterious voice encouraging him to build a baseball diamond where his cornfield currently stands. Taking a leap of faith, the farmer decides to build the diamond, and the move eventually pays off as 1000s of visitors eventually line up to come see the “Field of Dreams.”

I’m someone who loves to see people make bold moves and follow their heart, but in Channel Marketing you can’t just “build it” and leave it up to fate.  Many companies with the best intentions go and build “Fields of Dreams” in the form of partner portals, marketing resources, learning management systems, partner relationship management solutions. They “build it” with the assumption that their channel partners will magically “come” and use these valuable resources, resulting in more sales and a stronger, more committed channel. An even bigger myth is that these “Fields of Dreams” will attract a new crop of partner prospects. However, unless your channel is exclusive to your products, the results and returns on these dreams always disappoint. field-of-dreams-movie-clip-screenshot-people-will-come_large

All too often I see companies building channel marketing plans, investing time and money into various systems without a clear path for achieving returns. They simply feel that if they “build it,” the partner “will come” and engage by embracing their new systems. But the good news is your investment in these valuable channel resources and tools don’t need to be like taking a leap of faith. A well-designed channel incentive program that shines a light on, rewards for, and recognizes key selling behaviors (including frequenting the systems “built,” such as your partner portals, marketing solutions, learning systems, etc.) can help build a strong channel partnership, one that offers a clear path to profitability. By highlighting these behaviors and introducing compelling rewards, you can help your partners understand WIIFM while laying out a blueprint for successfully selling your products. Ultimately, this will make for an easier, more clear-cut choice when they are deciding whether to do business with you or your competitors.

So remember: When it comes to Channel Marketing Programs, just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come.

How do you design the right channel incentive program?

What is the right reward and reward investment for your partner demographic?


As always please reach out with questions or comments!

Move the Channel,



Lady Gaga, Channel Marketing, and the Importance of Analytics

ladygaga_halloweenRecently, I was reading the blog of one of my favorite influencers, Bernard Marr. In his post, “What Lady Gaga Can Teach You About Analytics,” I learned some really interesting—and surprising—things about Lady Gaga and how she leverages analytics to benefit her brand.

For years Lady Gaga has been a leader and trendsetter in the social media arena. Back in 2008, she was one of the first entertainers to take advantage of the vast potential of platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Today, she has an astounding 42 million followers on Twitter and over 66 million “Likes” on Facebook; however, along the way Gaga has realized that despite her incredible following, she doesn’t own these databases and can’t fully leverage their power in the distinctively creative ways that she is famous for.

So what did she do? She decided to simply point direct her followers to her own personal website, This is where the real magic of analytics is manifested. On this site that she controls, she’s able to capture her fans’ information and use the resulting data in innovative ways, such as tailoring her concert set lists to the preferences of fans in particular regions. She also has boosted her merchandise sales by 30% by using fan artwork that’s been uploaded to her site on t-shirts and other clothing. Once again, Gaga is leading the way in harnessing the impressive power of analytics, big data, and social media.

“But it’s not just the music industry that can use big data to its advantage,” says Marr. “Any company—or indeed anyone—can, and should use data to make better decisions. And companies who don’t do that will be left behind.”

Mr. Marr, I couldn’t agree more!

 So, what can the channel marketing community learn from Lady Gaga?

1.) Social Media is NOT the source of knowing your Channel Partners and Market Ambassadors. It’s simply a way to build awareness of and drive traffic to your own space/website.

2.) What’s the BEST way to create your OWN website and space that will engage and appeal to your channel partner’s and partner’s sales people? Without question a channel incentive program packs the biggest draw of this audience.

3.) Capturing Partner and Partner Sales People Insight: Once you have designed a convincing Channel Rewards Program, your channel will start to surrender more information than you could hope for. This is more than just finding out who is selling your products—it’s who they are selling to, what complimenting vendors are part of their solution, what % of their sales are yours, what incentives motivate them, and what kind of dream awards are on their “wish list.”

4.) With this new channel insight, the opportunities to improve partner communication, marketing, training—and, well, “partnering”—are endless. In fact, this information may open up a whole new world that you never even knew existed.

Most of us are aware that well designed Channel Incentive Programs can always yield terrific gains when it comes to grabbing channel mind and market share. These results speak for themselves. But it’s also true that the #1 reason that leading companies implement and invest in channel incentive programs is for partner, partner sales people, and end-user information and insight. Why?  Because when you know your partners and partners’ sales people, you know how to talk with them, how to sell with them.  

So far, we have only scratched the surface regarding the powerful potential of data collection during the early parts of channel incentive programs. But think about the sales and training data that can be tracked and harnessed after years 1,2,3, and beyond! What will that data yield as far as insight into how to improve your business and your channel? How valuable will that information be as you make key decisions about the direction of your company? At HMI-MMI, we’ve developed R-Cube, a software-as-a-system (SaaS) that is a lethal combination of technology, process, and research expertise. In a way, companies that invest in this level of data management can become just a bit like Lady Gaga: always on the cutting edge of channel analytics.

Are you using Channel Incentive Programs to capture elusive data?  Are you analyzing that data to make better decisions going forward…. to Move the Channel?

As always, please reach out with questions or comment!

Move the Channel,


The first 45 KPIs or indicators of a good Channel Partner according to… YOU.

Last week I asked you to list your Top 3 Channel KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) “here”.  I asked this question throughout the various LinkedIn groups and our very own Move the Channel Community.   And YOU delivered, with countless KPIs ideas.  Here are the first 45.

These are only first 45.  It’s interesting to pick out the unique KPIs like “employee turnover”.  And to point out the most popular KPI, “training/enablement investment”.  Training and Enablement is the clear winner with 17% of the first 45 KPIs mentioned.

I will be providing commentary and analysis on these submissions, but wanted to provide the initial feedback ASAP.

Click here to participate in the discussion.    HERE


Move the Channel,

Here are the first 45 in YOUR own words.

  1. Money they spent (out of their own pocket) in promoting my portfolio to their customers
  2. Deal registrations and corresponding conversion rate
  3. Enablement investments (time, money) for their sales and sales engineering teams.
  4. Pipeline growth and velocity
  5. Strategic opportunities. For instance, I may have a partner with a small volume of opportunities, yet they are all sourced from a key vertical or market segment we are trying to penetrate.
  6. Unique IP jointly developed by our respective organizations
  7. Certifications in product or technical support
  8. Customer complaints or redos (how often do they get it right the first time)
  9. Employee turnover
  10. Share of wallet
  11. Certification investment
  12. Portfolio breadth
  13. Tenure
  14. Transaction frequency
  15. Sales skills,
  16. Market knowledge,
  17. Loyalty
  18. Number of dedicated Head counts.
  19. A clear business plan
  20. Integration with its other line of business
  21. Marketing Know-how – simple branding, or social media or in-person events.
  22. Take interest in talking 1X p/month about the business, their needs and future direction
  23. Proactively prepare for all discussions and include the right members of their team
  24. Solicit vendor input on their business ideas, offerings and go to market strategies
  25. Accept constructive feedback and feel empowered to deliver it
  26. Utilize the training, marketing and sales tools we’re providing
  27. Number of specialists / engineers that have been “trained”
  28. QoQ or YoY pipeline growth from those people
  29. Number of new sales appointments set (IMPORTANT)
  30. Learning investment with our products / solutions.
  31. Exclusivity (Are we their sole product for the application?)
  32. Partners who willingly participate in quarterly business planning sessions with the Vendor and jointly establish measurable goals and activities to achieve same
  33. Partners that are committed to real growth as opposed to just maintaining their current profit levels, pre-retirement
  34. Partners that view hardware and technology as enablement platforms for longer-term, solutions-based selling, rather than a sales goal in and of itself
  35. Have the ability to market/attract new customers
  36. Have knowledge of your product and where it’s a fit
  37. Have knowledge of the industry
  38. The reps get “enough” (simpler than alternatives, more margin, etc.) benefit from selling your product
  39. Present our products FIRST on their line card
  40. Engage us in training, strategy and ramping to market
  41. Stay engaged in active prospecting and business planning.
  42. Which partners are actively executing programs?
  43. What topics are driving customer interest?
  44. Which partners are leading customer engagement?
  45. Which media channels are delivering results?
  46. competitive affinity (how closely is the partner aligned to my competitors)
  47. social/external behavior in response to a specific program
  48. Quarterly Growth (People/Revenue) of the partner



Channel Conduit: Why the most innovative, brightest companies rely on 3rd parties for Incentive Marketing Programs

Experience vs knowledgeThe agency I work with is lucky enough to work with many of the world’s biggest and most innovative companies in the world.  Why on earth would they need a 3rd party to do anything?  Well, they are very smart.  Although they have more knowledge of their channel and how to engage them, they don’t have the experience of actually running award-winning channel performance incentive programs.  Also like in their own industries, things move quickly.  If you are not living and breathing channel performance incentive marketing, you are delivering a stale program.

It’s not that your team isn’t bright and capable.   In fact they are probably superstars!  Let them work with a 3rd Party with experience and watch an amazing solution and results happen.

What channel marketing efforts are you trying to manage internally?  Are you saving money or missing opportunity?

Move the Channel,

Channel Conduit: What 28 Million People Learned About Giving Gifts from this Video

I love Westjet. We have a couple of clients and developers based in Toronto, and Westjet is always our favorite carrier that flies there. Why? Take a look at this must-watch holiday video about gift-giving that Westjet put together, and maybe you’ll understand:

When Santa asked people what they wanted for Christmas, what did they say? Big-screen TVs, cameras, toys, etc.

Why didn’t they say cash?  Because when Santa asks, it’s magic, and if there is magic involved, why not ask for something you normally couldn’t afford or wouldn’t splurge on? You’re not spending your own family’s money—apparently this is goodwill currency & equity you’ve built up all year from being “good”. You and your family have earned it. Live it up!

Gift Giving


Can you imagine Santa giving out cash? Where is the joy, the fun in that? What type of experience would the receiver of the cash have had while everyone else was opening their gifts?

Happy Holidays, Channel-Movers!  When rewarding your channel partners for being “good” all year, make sure you don’t flop by giving them cash. Give them something that builds loyalty and goodwill toward your brand.

Move the Channel,


PS Thanks for sharing this video with me Anthony 


The Economics Of Seinfeld: What’s the right Gift to give; cash?

Elaine’s Birthday Seinfeld – “Cash!?!?, What are you my Uncle?”


Are your Partners Missing the Beauty of your Channel Marketing Program?

This weekend my 5-year-old son and I tagged along with my wife to a conference she was attending in West Virginia. As a leader in STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) Education, she’s frequently invited to conferences such as this one, and typically they take her to magnificent coastal or historic locations all over the world.

Which brings us to . . . West Virginia? Well, of course it appealed to me—in addition to my passion for channel marketing and business interests, I’m also an outdoorsmen at heart, and am always in search of the next great adventure.


Needless to say, the prospect of visiting the great Mountaineer State definitely got me excited. But, upon mentioning the trip to friends,

colleagues, heck, even total strangers, and highlighting my excitement about it, I began to sense that I was in the minority. What I mean is, it seemed to me that some people tend to think of West Virginia as a place in economic hardship, rather than one filled with pristine natural beauty.

Here’s my theory:  If West Virginia can take control of their message, and

start to more actively steer their communication and marketing strategies in the right direction, they could bolster their tourism and boost their economy. Tourism is already their largest industry, but with all it has to offer it could be so much more. A booming industry such as tourism could only have positive effects on the overall economy of the state. One need only observe a state like Michigan, with it’s “Pure Michigan” campaign, to see the effects such strategies can have on a region’s general perception. Of course, one of the world leaders in terms of managing their “brand” and marketing their positive qualities has to be New Zealand’s South Island, the “Adventure Capital of the World.”

Many of the more mature Channel Marketing Programs face a similar challenge. Your channel partners (and even the media) are so focused on a perceived problem with your channel program or a past misstep, that they aren’t able to see the “wild and wonderful” qualities that make your channel program great.


It’s time to start taking control of your message to the channel.  Start a campaign that shines a light on all the amazing benefits and uniqueness of your program. For example, did you know that 60% of the United States population lives within 500 miles of West Virginia? Or that 75% of the state is comprised of beautiful, breathtaking wilderness? Why not highlight your spectacular mountains, endless trails, or unmatched rivers? Why not promote your strong, proud work ethic, and remind people that “A Mountaineer is Always Free!”

Are you adequately marketing your Channel Reward Program, Deal Registration Program, and all the resources you have worked so hard to put in place? Or are you letting your channel marketing be defined by others or previous challenges?

Move the Channel,

#1 Reason For Implementing Channel Reward Programs: Partner and End-User Data Insight

On TargetWhat is the main reason channel organizations are implementing Channel Incentive Programs?

To motivate the channel?  To engage partners?  To reward for incremental growth or proven Steps-to-the-Sale (STTS)?  Surely it must be to gain loyalty by impacting future buying behaviors?

Nope. All of these used to be leading drivers of investment in channel rewards programs, but in today’s channel ecosystem they have become merely residual benefits.

Manufacturers and distributors have started to realize that in order to more effectively achieve all of these residual benefits, they need to design custom messaging and communications to the channel members who are responsible for buying or selling their solutions. And to accomplish this, or to do so successfully, they need to take advantage of the vast troves of end-user data that have become accessible in our digitized world.

Here, then, might be the evolving function of channel rewards programs. By utilizing a channel program to discover and target the right partner salespeople and sales engineers, channel pros (or “Channeleers,” as I like to call them) can get right up next to the sale and end-user. The nestling can be achieved through a well thought out claims process.   A claims solution creates an opportunity to gather key information about the sale and end-user, and, armed with this information, a channeleer can put custom messages directly into their audiences’ hands (in the case of mobile, literally).

As always, please feel free to share your challenges with communicating to your channel partner employees or the end-user. I look forward to the dialogue.

Move the Channel,

Channel Conduit of the Week: 1 in 3 Babies…will Live to 100

The Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge Leave The Lindo Wing With Their Newborn Son

Yesterday I was driving a prospective client back to Boston Logan airport after a terrific meeting. Coming into the downtown area, I saw a billboard that caught my eye.  “1 in 3 Babies…” it read, and obviously at that point, as a father of two, it had my full attention.   I thought for sure it was going to be an important health awareness message like those that we are used to seeing. Curious to read on, I saw that the entire message was “1 in 3 Babies will Live to 100” (the billboard is right on the Mass Pike if someone can send me a picture of it that would be great)

As I was wondering exactly how one might go about measuring this long-term prediction, I was struck by a story I had heard earlier that day. The meeting we were coming from had to do with a channel incentive trip and the potential strategies that could be deployed for it.  At the end of the meeting our very impressive client told us a story about how a participant on an incentive trip he had run SIX YEARS AGO was still commenting today on how much of an effect the trip had had on him and his business.  I found it incredible that not only had this particular program yielded a 700% Return On Investment (ROI), netting over $75 million in incremental revenue; it had also continued to impact business on a long-term basis.  Don’t get me wrong, the immediate ROI figures were remarkable, and I know how important it is to show this analysis in order to justify the budget for such a program.  But the fact that customers still continued to be affected by the trip six years later got me thinking about how we might possibly measure this impact. Ultimately, this is something I like to call Return On Experience (ROE), a statistic that is difficult to calculate but strategically vital.  After seeing the billboard, I wondered if this client and his business would have seen the same ROE if he’d given his customers a cash-equivalent bonus instead of the trip of a lifetime.

Please send your experience where you were a participant or delivering such an incentive trip.  Send you comment or thoughts on Return on Experience ROE direct to my email!

Move the Channel,

It’s a Good Time to be a Channel Pro!

Its good to be channel Pro

We have heard some positive news about the economy although the outlook is still a lil muddy.  However it is crystal clear that Channel Chiefs are making aggressive moves.   Companies have made the decision to grow their business through their channel partners because most industries know the best way to deliver their solutions is through loyal, vested, and well-trained business partners that are local to the end-user. Thanks to social media, LMS (Learning Management Systems), PRM technology (Partner Relationship Management), and enhanced ways to motivate the partner sales team through Channel Incentive Programs, companies are finally realizing that channel strategy & channel programs are the most profitable model.

Top Three Indicators of a Channel Economic Rebound:

1.)     Channel Hiring Spree!  Although companies aren’t ready to build up their direct sales forces yet, they are investing in channel pros. We continue to hear about companies like MSFT, Red Hat, Oracle, CISCO, EMC, and NetApp, just to name a few, are hiring for Sr. Channel Leadership positions.

2.)    The leading global channel companies are bulking up their programs.  MSFT says it best in one of their job descriptions: “Microsoft is rapidly developing its incentive programs to support growth across all business segments in SMSG by improving alignment of multi-billion dollar incentive programs with new customer segmentation and sales models.”

3.)    Channel Ecosystems are on the rise – Companies aren’t just saying they are committed to the channel but they creating environments that make their channel partners part of their biology.   Lincoln Smith of HMI Performance Incentives says, “It used to be that companies incentive programs would reward for only behaviors determined by the manufacturer (sales goals, training modules, STTS, etc.), but now our program are rewarding for collaboration or sharing of ideas and best practices through surveys.  These actions are made exciting through incentives and gamification.”.

If you are a Channel Pro it is time to take action and take advantage of these exciting times.  Chances are that your company’s C-Level folks are strategizing on how to creatively capture more mind and market share of the channel partners.  Don’t wait for the increased budget or positions to come to you, make bold recommendations on where and how to invest and create channel loyalty.  If you’re not seeing increased attention or channel priority you might be with the wrong organization.  The good news is that proven channel pros are in high demand!

Check your Channel Marketing Program against the Move the Channel Marketing Guide and RIMES Chart and make some exciting adjustments today.

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

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LinkedIn Group collaborates to deliver a very unique Channel Marketing Guides& RIMES Chart.

It wasn’t easy to organize hundreds of ideas from a network of thousands of people from all over the world. But we did it. Move The Channel’s unique Channel Marketing & Sales 1.0 eBook is now available for you to download exclusively on

MTC 1.0 CoverWhat makes 1.0 the first of its kind? As most of you know, this project started over a year ago as a simple discussion in the Move The Channel LinkedIn group. It grew from there to an all-out deluge of ideas from all across the Move The Channel community.

As we began organizing all of the different ideas and channel best practices that were coming our way, distinct categories started to become clear.  These categories are what we now refer to as “RIMES” — Relationships, IT, Marketing & Communications, Enablement, and Sales — and they are what we at Move The Channel consider to be the pillars of any successful channel marketing campaign.

Our goal is to begin to create a line of literature that can be referenced as a valuable tool in the planning and implementation of any channel marketing program. We hope you find this guide to be useful and informative. You can download it right here at

Enter your name and email address to download Move the Channel Guide and RIMES Chart

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Please provide feedback so we can continue to enhance the Guide & Chart. MoveTheChannel 1.0 is the first step in an ongoing line of literature about channel marketing and sales. Our plan with 1.0 is to throw a net around a wide range of industries and promote the basic tools that have been proven to generate success across multiple access points within the channel. Enjoy!
Move the Channel,

5 Simple & Shocking Ways to Increase Loyalty with Your Channel

These five simple yet shocking tips will help to increase loyalty and better engage your channel partners.

shocked!  Home Alone1.)     Don’t ask them what they want…  or need!   By being the manufacture or distributor you have the insight and best practices of your most successful partners.  Share with the Silver partners how Platinum Partners became platinum.

2.)    Reward them more for non-revenue activities.  This may not make much sense on the surface, but it works.  Remember those best practices of your platinum partner from the first point?  If you know that the partners with the most training sell more and are less maintenance, reward everyone in the channel for training completions.  If X number of deal registrations or demos equal an increase of Y in sales, reward for registration or demo goal achievement.   Almost all of my clients’ Reward Programs include STTS (Steps to the Sale) components.

3.)    Share their competitive advantages with their peers.  In certain cases, this is not always appropriate, but hear me out…  Instead of just giving an award at the partner conference for most revenue, announce that “this partner also has the most certified engineers of any other VAR”  or  “this partner has engaged our sales team for demonstration more than any other partner.”  Not only will they appreciate the honor, they will also get other Channel Partners thinking about the ways they can be better leaders.  Pat these standouts on the back by putting them on pedestal.

4.)    What are you going to do this year? Sell more!  It amazes me how many companies don’t set goals for their channel partners to achieve.  What an amazing opportunity to have a business meeting with your partner. Tell them why you value them and why you are counting on them to grow their business.  Once you do, let them set the goal… chances are it is much more ambitious than you would have suggested.

5.)    Go fly a kite.  Or maybe a plane. Once your channel partners have achieved their goal (which you decided with them), take them and their spouse on a President’s Club or Group Trip (no, conferences don’t count!).  You asked them to achieve a goal and they worked on it all year, so put your money where your mouth is and reward them for a job well done. These high quality group trips can range from $2000-$5000 per person, but they couldn’t be a better use of funds, and if your channel partners hit the high goals you set for them, the extra revenue from the higher sales will more than pay for the trip.  Think about enjoying a mai tai with your best partners and see how appreciative they will be while mingling with your upper management and executives.  Nothing creates more loyalty than recognition and appreciation through an incentive trip.

Vendors throw money at the channel, but they don’t know what sticks (ROI)

Last week a Move the Channel member started a discussion in the LNKD Group.  “I am looking for some best practices on measuring the ROI on MDF generated leads. Currently it’s quite a manual job checking it from one system to another. Any suggestions/recommendations?”

Return on InvestmentI’m sure that by asking the leading channel minds at Move the Channel, this member will be offered many good ideas and best practices on how to better track the dollars that are being provided to the channel partners.  Quite honestly, in this economic climate I’m surprised this isn’t a more popular topic amongst our group. 

This has been a challenge for a long time, but now more than ever vendors want the ability to link marketing activity & investment to their product sales.  Because the distributors have a hard time proving the link between monies they spend on marketing, and actual product sales, the Return On Investment is based, more often than not, on educated guess work.   

There is incredible pressure on non-channel marketing to provide an ROI for every penny spent.  We should probably expect the same weighty expectations for the channel pros this year more than ever, if we don’t already. 

So do I have a solution for this inevitable ROI problem?  No, not exactly.  But I can think of a couple of ideas.

1.)   CRM Capabilities: I know that many CRM systems are doing a much better job of tracking channel campaigns and events and linking them to and incorporating them into the sales cycle. is the one I have had experience with.  The key there has been to eliminate the divide between these two business development departments.  It’s why we are seeing more SVP of Channel Sales & Marketing. 

2.)   Implement “Trackable” Initiatives: If you don’t have a refined system in place, one way to improve measurement methods of your channel marketing investment is to include initiatives in your strategy that can be easily tracked.  Introducing and funding Distributor Performance Incentive programs that target the Reseller/Dealer customer can be an easy way to track ROI.  Only “reward” (fund) when key performance indicators (KPIs) are achieved. These KPIs might include incremental sales goals, product sales, training achievements, deal registrations, etc.  All the things that you know turn into revenue and a transaction. 

I know this doesn’t solve all the challenges with tracking marketing monies through the channel (especially end-user campaigns), but it’s a good place to start.  If you can show clear, positive ROI on your Channel Rewards Program, you might find yourself with greater leeway when it comes to your more creative–less “trackable”–initiatives. 

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