Archives for August 2013

Channel Conduit of the Week: Growing Partner Sales with Team Incentive Programs

Andy BernardI recently watched the rerun of the “incentive” episode of the“The Office” on NBC.  Goodness, I’m going to miss that show! 

While I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice another great lesson from the episode.  Yes, everyone was inspired to win the grand prize.  The Grand Prize was Andy Bernard (the manager) agreeing to tattoo himself with something regrettable, but what really got the office going was the fact that only as a TEAM could they achieve this goal.

As many of you know, I specialize in channel incentive programs and work with around many world-class channel organizations around the Globe.  We have seen a recent trend and request to offer the functionality for teams or business partners to pool their points to earn rewards as a team.   There are number of reasons for this request:

1.)     The business partner principal wants to have control or visibility into what the vendors are offering their employees.

2.)    The sale is complex and takes a team to identify, qualify, spec, present, and implement, and therefore it takes a team to close.  In the tech world we see a lot of VAR sales and sales engineers working together for a joint sales effort.

3.)    A cultural norm dictates that individual rewards are not feasible. In a number of our programs in countries like Japan it is not appropriate to reward one person for a clear group effort.  In this case the manager would pool the team’s points.

Our client’s teams don’t have the option of tattooing their boss, but we are seeing teams redeem for a group incentive travel event, ping pong tables for the office, loge suites at an NFL game, or group experiences like Richard Petty Driving Camp or an afternoon with a golf pro.  Not only are these rewards memorable, but they continue to build a team atmosphere for the company and help to foster relationships beyond the workplace that have been shown to positively impact productivity.

As usual, send me a note with your experience or thought on team incentives!

Move the Channel,

Channel Partners: High Maintenance, or windows to endless opportunity?

High MaintenanceIf you are getting the same results from your channel partners year after year, it might be time for a change. As our channel matures, as our products evolve with the times and the marketplace, so should our channel partner programs. But sometimes our expectations are not met, and we find ourselves asking a difficult question: if we’ve incorporated each of the pillars of a success channel strategy into our programs, why hasn’t our channel taken us yet to new applications, new clients, and new markets?

One explanation might be that we’re still looking at our reseller channel partners the same way we always have. Instead of viewing them as vehicles for growth—our growth—we’re continuing to see them as business accounts that must be constantly maintained in order to take us anywhere. Viewed in this light, it’s understandable that these channel relationships might at times seem burdensome. But there is an enormous amount of untapped potential in each and ever reseller, and if we can somehow access it, we can reap the benefits of their tremendous entrepreneurial spirit.

Because let’s remember who our partners are: they are small-to-medium-sized companies that were founded by entrepreneurs, many of whom are still at the helm. Each of these partners represents a window to a new world of opportunity, because this is part of their company’s DNA. Each was built on finding new opportunities and seizing them. Isn’t it in our best interest to harness that ability?High Maintenance

To do this, perhaps its time we stopped looking at our partners as mere accounts, and added a more personal touch to our reseller relationships. Could we sit down with these partners, listen to their goals, and figure out how they might align with our own? Could we help them grow their business, and not just in a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” sort of way? By considering the human side of these relationships, by considering how we can help our partners achieve their goals, we might just be able to activate the entrepreneurial spirit that made them successful in the first place. If we can enable our partners to take their own businesses to new verticals, new markets, and new heights, then we will put them in a position to take our own products with them.

How do you look at your channel partners? Are they high-maintenance accounts, or vehicles of opportunity?

Channel Conduit of the Week: Bring The Meal To Them!

  • Small gestures that make big impacts on channel behavior
  • Commonsense reminders that make the difference b/t you and your competition
  • Elements that should be considered in a Channel Incentive Programs

In-n-Out TruckWant to give your partners something they’ll always appreciate, and never expect? Try sending a food truck right to their office. I’m serious. The great thing about this type of reward is that it benefits the entire company. While the company principal and sales people are usually the sole targets of incentive programs, with a food truck you can treat the whole partner company to a fun and delicious 90-minute food experience. Why not say “Thanks” to the technical and customer service folks that play a huge role in representing your company and products?

What’s more, you’re not just limited to tacos these days. The mobile foodie explosion now offers internationally inspired street cuisine. These vehicles of sustenance offer everything from burgers and hot dogs to foie gras and caviar.

Food trucks are more than just an attraction – while their primary function is to prepare and serve food, they are also great props and uniquely entertaining.

We recently coordinated such a partner event. At lunchtime, the mobile kitchens of The Varsity, offering their famous chili, slaw dogs, fries, onion rings, and fried peach pies visited attendees. The experience was punctuated by lively cooks offering their trademark “What’ll ya have?” It was a fun way to present lunch and an unforgettable experience for our attendees who had hit some key growth goals. If you are fortunate enough to live in In-n-Out country, you can even order an IN-N-OUT Truck to show up! Talk about making an impression!

Channel Incentive Programs: Are You Implementing Soft Benefits?

Hotel and airline rewards programs undoubtedly have their issues. For one, their currency is so diluted these days that it takes over a year to earn a single reward. With that being said, there are certain things that they are doing well. For starters, they do a terrific job of offering “soft benefits” to their customers. These are the little extra bonuses that keep us talking and always keep us coming back.

fisrt class

These soft benefits come in the form of First-Class upgrades, complementary luggage allowances, priority boarding privileges, free access to their VIP lounge, or maybe even a chance to fly the plane! Okay, so they aren’t exactly letting us fly the plane…yet, but you get my point.

I mean think about it–what keeps you engaged with your preferred airline carrier or hotel chain of choice? Great prices, sure, but what else? It’s the soft benefits! We are always encouraging our clients to

incorporate these soft benefits into their channel incentive programs, and the strategy is continuing to pay gigantic dividends.

So what are some examples of these benefits as they pertain to channel incentives? Let’s take a look at a few that can have a huge perceived value to your potential program participants:

  • Platinum Customer Service
  • Invitation to a Leadership Roundtable
  • Participation in Beta product builds & testing
  • Partner locator privileges
  • Hotline to the CEO or CTO
  • Penthouse Upgrade at a Partner Conference
  • Dinner with the CEO
  • Priority-status for low availability Rewards like a Rolling Stones concert in London!

fine diningBy integrating soft benefits into your channel incentive program you can distinguish your business from the competition and deliver a personal touch that leads to deeper, stronger relationships with your partners. Not all soft benefits are published or explicit, but even these can still act as qualifiers for which partner deserves the reward. One way to ensure this is to create Partner Tiers (Platinum, Gold, Silver) for your program, which can help you easily determine which partners qualify for which soft benefits. Regardless of the method, it’s important to have a system in place that selects the partners who especially deserve the high-value rewards. By establishing this system as a prime component of your channel incentive program, you will be able to acknowledge these exceptional partners with minimum hassle.


Here is a good tool or checklist to compare your current soft benefits:

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

Name: Email:

%d bloggers like this: