Archives for April 2014

What is a Channel Engagement Portal?


What is a Channel Engagement Portal? Before I explain what it is, maybe first I should start by telling you what it is NOT.

  • It’s NOT a robust LMS, or a heavy training, certification, and accreditation solution.
  • It’s NOT a robust marketing center where partners can co-brand and customize messaging and campaigns on demand.
  • It’s NOT a rebate or co-op management and distribution solution.
  • It’s NOT a robust CRM system, nor a social networking site.
  • It is NOT a Channel Rewards or cash spiff program.


E Portal Log In

Now, with that being said, here’s what an engagement portal IS:


  • It IS the perfect platform for new products readiness & competitive positioning readiness trainingAnd it can totally integrate with those necessary LMS systems to track and reward important accomplishments.
  • It IS ideal for serving up the latest and most relevant content to help your partners sell and stay informed.
  • It IS an effective tool for creating awareness and excitement for the principal, while also serving up their % to goals and partner level tiers.
  • It IS a great way to reward and motivate the partner’s salespeople for KPIs that are being tracked and measured in your CRM.
  • It IS a platform that can be used to incentivize social behavior related to a partner’s business.
  • It IS an essential part of rewarding your channel stakeholders. It’s what ties all of their good selling behaviors together. While you reward for training, sales, KPIs, social sharing, etc., they can redeem for merchandise, travel, event tickets, or anything else that engages people.

If you can only see Engagement Portals for what they can’t do, then you’re probably ignoring the inherent value that they can bring to any partner program. Maybe it IS time you kicked that glass-half-empty vision and started taking advantage of these platforms’ full potential.

If you want to hear or see more about the power of Engagement Portals shoot me a note here:  Contact Us

Move the Channel,

Channel Marketing: In With The Old, and The New (Part 1)

old-vs-new-21313880The old model of channel marketing features three main components: partner benefits, sales resources and training, and quarterly goal setting.

On the other hand, the new model of channel marketing focuses on channel community/collaboration, educating (not just product training), and motivating the POI (Point of Influence).

Well guess what? The old model is still the foundation for a successful channel.  The new way simply AMPLIFIES the old way.

As much as the channel has evolved in recent years, there are still many aspects of it that remain the same. For instance, you still need benefits that offer profitability to the partner at the firm-level. You still need serious ease of selling resources to move the partner’s sales and sales management. You still need clear goals to make sure everyone’s objectives are aligned.

Although these continue to be pillars of a channel partner program, we now find ourselves strengthening and enhancing these areas in new ways.

Program benefits now includes being part of a channel community where ideas are shared, experiences become best practices, and solutions to the end-user are delivered collaboratively.

Time-honored sales resources and training now also tend to include industry knowledge-sharing and value-creation training that is elastic and able to be delivered in timely, relevant “lessons.”  The process of “Educating” is developed by the training department but in conjunction with the channel marketing and sales teams that are in the field selling.

Finally, the Partner Firm-level is still typically the target of many incentives and communications; but now we have also extended our engagement and messaging to target the POI (Point of Influence), which is mainly the partner’s sales or sales engineers that interface directly with the end-user customer.   Before, it used to be the touch to the POI was with Cash Spiffs.  Today, a true engagement and incentive program enables you to reward the partner’s sales people for behaviors that lead to sales or Steps-to-the-Sale (STTS)!

Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same. Are you embracing the New, or is your channel program just getting Old? Maybe it should be a bit of both. . .


Move the Channel,


Channel Partner Meetings: Quantity or Quality

quality_vs_quantityBack in the day when I was a regional channel rep, I would pride myself on the number of partner meetings I could fit in during a 48-hour city visit.  My all-time high meetings in a single Day was in Phoenix when I met with 4 partners, 2 partner prospects, and 2 end-users.

Here is what a REALLY good day looked like:

  • 7am – Breakfast Partner Meeting
  • 9am – Partner Meeting
  • 11am – End-User Site Visit
  • 12pm – Lunch with Partner Prospect
  • 2pm – End-User Prospect Meeting with Partner
  • 4pm – Partner Meeting that ran into happy hour
  • 6:30pm – Dinner with my largest Partner’s Sales Team

Yes, this was back when our T&E budgets were bigger and less scrutinized! It was one of the best times of my career, when I met and befriended some great people with whom I did lots of good business. Of course I still enjoy traveling and visiting clients today, and I’m always trying to secure as much face-time with partners as I possibly can; but looking back on that whirlwind day, I can’t help but think that with that kind of schedule I could not have been properly prepared for each and every one of those meetings. Sure, I went through my finely tuned checklist, introduced my products, and even helped train some of my partners on how to position and sell those products. But did I take the time to research each of their unique and evolving business interests, and show them how OUR products could help THEM provide a more complete solution that would lead to more and longer-lasting end-customers for their business? You know, I probably didn’t do this as well, or as thoroughly as I should have. I’m guessing that somewhere during that Day of Many Meetings I missed a big opportunity, both for myself and for my company. My attention had to be in too many places at once.

Since then I’ve realized that to improve the quality of my meetings, I may need to limit their quantity. Sure, it may sound impressive when I say I successfully met with more than a dozen business associates over the course of seven different meetings, but nowadays I’m a little more focused on the output of those meetings, and the success that comes of them. Despite how exciting it can be to “run up the score,” the fact is that not every meeting is a win. To earn a win usually means taking the time to get to know our partner and truly understand their business. Only when we show this level of respect can we expect these meetings to bear fruit.

Are you focused on the quality of your meetings, or the quantity?


Move the Channel,


Channel Partner Programs don’t matter unless you target your Partner’s Sales People

POI Book CoverI know many of us in the Move the Channel community tend to focus on Channel Partner Programs that deal in Partner-level or firm-level benefits. Now don’t get me wrong, these can certainly act as critical foundations for the formal partnership between you and your supply chain partners. BUT these types of programs don’t always differentiate you from your competitors, and they often don’t move the channel or grow market share as well as you might like. The exception here would be if your Channel Partners are made up of small companies, where the principal also happens to be the salesperson. You see this with many companies that sell through small contractors, dealers, or consultants. In these cases, the firm-level benefits are actually targeting the firm’s salesperson, which, I will argue, is really where you can strike with your program.

What are these important but industry standard firm-level benefits?

  • Quarterly & Annual Rebates
  • Manufacture Development Programs
  • Pricing Discounts Schedules
  • Registration & Demo Programs
  • Training Minimums and Requirements

I know these kinds of benefits are not easy things to design, and they can certainly be a lot of work to manage and articulate. But at the end of the day,

Miguel Carerea POI

Miguel Cabrera POI

90% of your Partner/Firm-Level Programs are actually made of the same components. Sure your discount might be more exciting or your MDF program might be appreciated, but even if your program is superior to your competitor’s, it’s probably only a month or so away from being matched by the competition.

So where do we see real impact?  How do we actually MOVE THE CHANNEL? The biggest impact and most measurable movement can be realized when you effectively target, engage, and incentivize performance at the Point of Impact (POI). Also known as the Point of Influence, the POI is the person in the channel that can best influence the sale—to YOUR END USER. Believe it or not, the POI is almost always your channel partner’s salesperson or sales engineer. It is the individual who interfaces with your end customers, the person with influence who can take advangtage of THEIR relationship with YOUR end customer. Each Industry and every company has its own vernacular for this person, but we at Move the Channel have coined this strategic player the POI.

Behaviors you may want to impact at the POI

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

When you design a program and performance incentive strategy around the POI, you are engaging at the most valuable touch point in the channel—the Point of Influence. Programs that can engage and motivate at this level are much more difficult to duplicate, and thus they have a more profound impact on the sale and overall market share.

Make sure your Partner/Firm-Level benefits are top-notch, but also quickly turn your marketing genius and resource to the people in the channel that have the real influence you are looking for . . . the POI.

Move the Channel,


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