Archives for September 2014

Global Channel Incentive Programs:   Multi-Business Unit, Multi-Distribution Channels, Multi-Cultural, OH MY!

create-your-own-adventureIf Dorothy thought lions, tigers, and bears sounded scary, imagine the anxiety she would feel living in our complex, multi-national channel world. I have to admit I still occasionally break out into a cold sweat when I try and wrap my head around all that’s involved with global channel incentive programs. 7 years ago, I was intimidated by the idea of building and managing a global platform and strategy, and rightfully so. But today that fear has become more like a sense of excitement and anticipation when visiting a new country, the feeling you might get right before you start a new adventure. I recently heard that there is no such thing “too much” adventure. This statement is certainly true as it relates to your channel incentive programs. The fact is, unless you are adventurous with your channel marketing and engagement, you are falling behind. Let’s continue to be in the forefront!

Adventure is a good thing, but only if we properly prepare for the journey. Most importantly, if you decide to pursue a global channel incentive program, careful navigation is key. To be sure, while you aren’t signing up for a Mount Everest expedition, running a global program isn’t exactly a walk in the park either. Above all else you need to select the proper “guide” (vendor partner) for your “journey,” one that not only has the global footprint and resources to make the trip a successful one, but also has the years of experience and scar tissue from actually executing these types of exhilarating solutions.

But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Why would anyone want to pursue this holistic global channel “adventure” in the first place? Well, there are a few reasons I can think of:

  • One platform that can scale across multiple business units, channels, and 132 countries
  • Consistency and continuity, while providing flexibility in each region and business unit
  • Sharing best practices across the globe, while providing flexibility to each region/business unit.    that are applied to their unique business objectives and sales channels
  • Analytics—a single pane-of-glass reporting and channel insight

There are a handful of channel incentive companies that think they have the resources in place to run this kind of incentive program, but only a few who have actually gone out and executed them successfully. The reality is global incentive programs are hard. I mean really hard.

So what’s the trick? “Plan global, execute local.”  In a nutshell this means having a global platform that provides constancy, continuity, and controls while providing local strategy and program management (people) down to the theater or even the country level.


The fact is that this type of strategy can generate the kinds of incremental mindshare and market share gains that make it simply a no-brainer! Imagine empowering your regional sales and marketing leadership the flexibility to launch their unique incentive campaigns.   And while I certainly understand that a foray out into the global channel arena can be a bit daunting at first—heck, it was for me!—if you can overcome the initial fear of the new, there are rewards to be reaped that will make you glad you took that bold first step into the unknown. After all, isn’t that what adventure is all about?

Is your global channel incentive program giving localized flexibility to multinational sales teams? Are you considering extending your program across the globe?

As always, reach out to me with idea, questions, and comments.

Move the Channel,


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What the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taught Channel Marketing?

Ever heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge? Sure you have. It’s been one of the most successful viral campaigns in the history of social media. For me, this particular movement is rather close to my heart, because not only is it an amazing cause—bringing awareness to a terrible disease and raising money for research that will hopefully lead to a cure soon—but also my friend and high school classmate is currently battling ALS with unbelievable courage and grace.

As it stands, this social media campaign has been remarkably successful, raising $15.6 million thus far as a result of the challenge. That’s more than nine times the amount of money that’s normally donated to the major ALS organizations in the same time frame.

Beyond the obvious implications of this amazing human-interest story, what else can we learn from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

1.) Everyone and their parents are on social media, and those who were heretofore uncomfortable using social media are becoming more comfortable with it.  At this point, if you aren’t using social media in some form, you’re probably missing some important conversations that are taking place within, around, and about your channel. This includes dialogue between your channel partners and their employees.

chick ice bucket

2.) Social media can be an extremely personal—and thereby effective—form of communication. For starters, you can comment directly to an individual customer, employee, or partner. Also, when you write on someone’s page or comment on a conversation they’ve started, you are giving them a vote of confidence. Essentially you’re saying, I’m not afraid to be seen with you in public! When working with your channel, the best social media campaigns are usually managed in a secure, Facebook-like module in the Channel Incentive Portal.

3.) If you “challenge” the individual, the masses will follow. As far as I can tell, communications to a mass audience doesn’t work very well. On the other hand, if you engage or “challenge” an individual with a call-to-action, the effectiveness of this contact will greatly increase. The fact is, unless you have a friendly relationship with someone, you probably aren’t going to contact him/her on Facebook, LinkedIn, or via text message. My point is, if you are reaching out through these mediums directly, then it could help you make the jump from business partner to business friend.

4.) Fun, public “call-outs” work with people you already are friendly with. Yes, the ALS challenge is intended to support an incredibly good cause, so most people are excited to help and participate in it. But a good social media campaign doesn’t have to be in the name of a charity or fighting for a cure in order to be effective. As long as there is good will between the “challenger” and the “challenged,” people will see it as simply as a fun way to engage and connect.

Here are some silly, yet very successful marketing campaigns I have designed, witnessed, or participated in, that have all utilized the power of social media in some way:

1.)    Concrete Chicken Tour — This concrete (yes, a heavy concrete) chicken named “Albert” was hand-delivered to the partner salesperson who happened to close the biggest deal that month. This lucky individual held onto—i.e. showed off—their trophy for an entire week, and was asked to “take care” of Albert and to take pictures of him throughout the week. In the office, in a meeting, with a client—even at home at the dinner table—there was Albert. You can image how much chatter amongst the channel partners this created. Of course, each of Albert’s “caretakers” kept upping the ante with their pictures, which were posted in a communal social media module inside their Global Channel Incentive Program Portal.

computer-skip2.)    Crush the Competition — One particular manufacturer ran a program called “Crush the Competition,” which included a social media component that evolved organically from a “conversion” incentive promotion. In their channel incentive program, this partner sales or sales engineer was offering valuable reward points for a sale that replaced any qualifying competitor’s equipment. To get credit for the conversion they had to submit a picture of the equipment they were replacing.  They would submit the picture through their normal claims process in their incentive portal.   It wasn’t long before the pictures became terrific images and even videos of playful destruction. Senior management loved the excitement it generated throughout the channel partner community.

3.)    Life’s a Beach — We all know that the Ultimate Reward for a channel partner is the achievement of the prestigious President’s Club group trip. One of my clients had a great community dialogue going with its channel partner that was hosted in their Channel Incentive Portal. Of course when pictures started being uploaded from the trip, it turned into great motivation for those that didn’t earn into that year’s President’s Club. This resulted in more first-time qualifiers than ever before!

If you haven’t been using social media to engage and “challenge” your channel, the time is now. Please share with me some successful programs you may have run. Or email or call me to brainstorm on some ideas that might work for your unique channel.

Move the Channel,



Move the Channel Marketing Guide & 1.0 & RIMES Chart – Origin Story

RIMES PicSince the release of Move The Channel’s Channel Marketing & Sales Guide 1.0, I’ve been inundated with emails and phone calls asking me, “Travis, what is the Move The Channel Marketing & Sales Guide, what is RIMES, and how did you come up with them?”

So here’s the brief origin story: In collaboration with the Move The Channel Community (LinkedIn Group and, we began brainstorming what the most important components of a successful channel marketing campaign might be. To initiate this discussion, we first enlisted the thousands of MTC members to offer up their opinions and ideas regarding marketing strategies, sales techniques, technological advancements, and other channel solutions. The best part of this process was that all of the data, concepts, and suggestions we received were based on the extensive personal experience of real channel professionals.

As we began organizing literally thousands of ideas and best practices from our numerous group members, we started to see different categories coming into focus, and we determined that the most effective way to present this information would be as a five-pronged holistic methodology, which we’ve referred to as “RIMES.” We deemed these to be the 5 major “pillars” of any successful channel marketing program, and our goal was to highlight each as it relates to the greater whole. For those who don’t yet know, RIMES stands for:

  •  Relationships
  •  Information Technology (As in the channel professionals have access to and can use IT to better support their goals)
  •  Marketing & Communications (although sometimes we also refer to this pillar as “Management” — as in Channel Management)
  •  Enablement and Education
  •  Selling — pushing products/solutions THROUGH the channel

In addition to RIMES serving as the pillars of a successful channel marketing program, it is also the foundation of our exclusive eBook, which we have called the Channel Marketing & Sales Guide 1.0. It has been designed and structured from an outside-in perspective, so that in future versions we can start to drill down and explore all of the various sub-categories. In this way, each pillar is a potential gold mine of information and insight regarding channel best practices, and it will be our job at Move The Channel to harvest these nuggets, one step at a time. So in this way, you might even think of 1.0 as the origins of a future Channel Wiki…

Please send me your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions on where to go during the next stage of Move the Channel’s Marketing Guide.

Move the Channel,



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