Archives for November 2013

Channel Conduit: Correct Way to Respond to “Thanks”

How to respond to Thanks

How to respond to Thanks

I know as channel professionals we feel like we don’t hear the phrase “thank you” enough from our partners. So when we do receive gratitude for our efforts, it’s important to respond in a way that really strengthens our partnership.

I just read a wonderful and very appropriate post from my friend at influencePEOPLE. Brian Ahearn is a Cialdini Method Certified Trainer and, through his blog, trainings, and workshops, he helps people influence others. If you want to hear your clients, friends, and family say “yes” more often, you should definitely subscribe to his blog.

In his Thanksgiving-week blog, “Correct Ways to respond to ‘Thanks!’” he points out how most people typically respond to the phrase “thank you”:

  • “No problem.”
  • “No big deal.”
  • “Just doing my job.”
  • “I would have done it for anyone.”
  • Or worst of all, silence.

In the words of Ahearn, people need to “strike each of these responses from their vocabulary!”

I couldn’t agree more. When it comes to engaging with your channel partners, it’s important to take advantage of any and every opportunity that’s available. Here are some suggestions for how to respond next time your channel partner offers their appreciation to you:

  • “You’re one of our most important channel partners, so I was happy to do this for you.”
  • “That’s what long-term partners do for one another. Thank you for trusting us.”
  • “That’s part of the great service you can expect when you deal with us. We appreciate you, your business, and our continued partnership.”
  • “It would have killed an ordinary person but I was glad to risk it for you.” (Some people will appreciate the humor)
  • “That’s part of the great service you can expect when you deal with me.”
  • “I was happy to do it. I appreciate you (and your business).”

During this holiday season, it is so important to count our blessings and give thanks. But equally as significant is how you respond to those that take the time to say “thank you” to you.  Whether you are around the dinner table or the boardroom table, don’t miss a wonderful opportunity to deepen your relationships with those around you.

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Move the Channel,

Exclusive Channel Incentive Leadership Forum’s most Valuable Element

Channel Incentive Leadership Conference

As most of you know, I was recently invited to speak at HMI’s Incentive Leadership Forum. The annual event is a way for HMI to host their most strategic clients in an ideal location, with its goal being to bring together forward-thinking executives and industry thought leaders to discuss the latest trends and concepts in the world of performance improvement. This year, The Forum took place at the spectacular Paradisus Palma Real Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It offered a perfect blend of academic theory, real-world research, and presentations on innovative best practices. Some of the presentation topics included:

  • “The Future of Channel Reward Programs”
  • “New Advances in Sales and Loyalty Program Design”
  • “The New Frontier of Data and Business Analytics”
  • “Social Media & Community Dialogue”
  • “Group Travel Incentives”
  • “Several Shades of Grey” of Programs

There was almost zero vendor positioning at The Forum, with HMI simply acting as a facilitator for these industry-relevant discussions. One of the great things about The Forum was that its attendees were all in positions to actually put into practice many of the themes and ideas that were talked about over the 2-day event. In fact, this small, exclusive group included some of the world’s most respected organizations, and represented some of the largest channel incentive programs being run today. Many of these attendees expressed interest in the various ways that they could take their programs to the next level, all while moving the entire channel incentive industry forward.

The Leadership Forum also brought together members of academia and research leaders from around the world, and who were eager to share their insights on the exciting evolution of global incentives. Topics that were discussed in terms of the global arena included “Global Reward Strategies and Execution,” “International Engagement Issues,” and more.

The Forum wisely reserved one of the last sessions for a discussion entitled “All About You.” During this session, attendees were encouraged to talk openly about their specific goals and challenges for the upcoming year. Each channel leader received tremendous feedback and suggestions from their peers, who were representing a wide range of unique industries. The all-in brainstorming session hit just the right note, serving as the perfect coda to an event where, for a few short days, sharing and learning took on a primary role.

It turns out that no matter what your industry is, or who you call your channel partners, almost all performance improvement principles are universal when it comes to Moving the Channel.  Without doubt, the most valued component of the forum was not on the agenda at all.  It was the rare peer-to peer-sharing of channel marketing leaders from other world-class companies.

Please stay tuned as I continue to share “lessons from the leaders”.

Move the Channel,

Channel Conduit of the Week – Partner Recruitment

Partner RecruitimentDo you have a few channel partners, but still aren’t sure whether to commit to a distribution channel Go-To-Market Strategy? When I talk to executives whose companies are at this point I often hear things like, “We know it’s time to commit to a channel strategy, but how do we recruit enough of the right partner?”

This is an excellent question, and the key words here are “enough” and “right.”

Here is a high level Channel Partner Recruiting Strategy for early channel adopters.

The Right Partners:

A.)     Profiling the perfect partner (2-3 different profiles):

  1. Of your current partners, which ones do you consider best? Chances are you have a few partners who might justify acquiring more.

i.      What core or supplementary products do they sell?  It is likely that those other products already go through a more mature channel.  If you have success stories with one or more of those partners, probabilities are the rest of the channel would be willing to listen.

ii.      Do these partners specialize in a certain industry?

iii.      How big of an organization are they? How many sales reps and technical people do they employ? You might be tempted to chase bigger, sexier partners, but it’s usually a good idea to stick with what you know, and more importantly what you can support.

2.  Talk to some of your happy end-user customers. Of all the products that bump up against yours, which ones do they consider world-class products, and what do they think of the organizations that stand behind them?  (This is also a nice introduction from a fortune 500 client which always gets resellers’ attention)

Closing Enough Partners:

B.)    Developing A Partner Recruitment Strategy

  1. Target your perfect partner. Accumulate a list of potentials that fit this profile, and start to pursue them. (If you can’t build a list from your perfect profile, you might need want to reconsider your standards)

i.      Target the other core or supplementary product’s channel partners discussed above  (Chances are their reseller network is published and easy to obtain)

ii.      Most industries have an organization in which channel partners are/can be members. This could be a good tool to use for when you compile your list. You should think about joining the organization if you haven’t already. NEAD is an example in the electrical space.

C.)    Executing a Partner Recruitment Strategy

  1. Closing the deal with new partners

i.      Web Conference Pitch — Get as many to attend as possible and make sure your pitch is a good one. Why would they invest their time and money, and allocate their resources to your company? Give them a reason they can’t ignore.

ii.      Sponsor and Participate at other core or supplementing product company conferences.  — In the tech space this might be EMC World or IBM PartherWorld or Oracle Open World.  This is a great chance to meet face-to-face with many target partners.

iii.      Good Ole Fashion Selling — Train your sales team & future channel managers to identify potential partners, pitch your channel marketing program and its benefits, and talk about the success stories of other similar companies.

Certainly this post just scratches the surface of what it takes to achieve.  To dive deeper please download the Move the Channel Marketing Guide and RIMES Chart or shoot me an email to discuss how I might help.

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Move the Channel,

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