Archives for November 2014

Channel Marketing 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.

Last year I 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,

email me

One Amazingly Simple Step toward Channel Partner Tranquility

The holidays are fast approaching! Sadly, there are still many people who dread what they consider to be a stressful time, seeing family members who they don’t always get along with. I’ve talked to many friends who possess this “you are stuck with your family” mentality, making what should be a joyous time difficult and demanding.

Interestingly, my channel marketing peers often express having similar reservations about their channel partners around this time of year. Much like a family, they too are in many ways “stuck” with the channel partners they do business with. Now, as someone who loves both the channel and his family (in-laws included), I’m always a little disheartened to hear that others feel this way. Life is too short, in my opinion, to maintain this “stuck” mentality. Fortunately, I’ve discovered a cure for this common dissatisfaction, and I’d like to take a moment to share it with all of you.

As channel marketing leaders, we often mastermind solutions or search for ways to transform our channel partners so that they come around to seeing things our way. For example we might up the requirements for training or develop Platinum Tier to strive for.  These are bad things.  But as a strategy, this alone isn’t enough.  It’s true, a well-designed Channel Incentive Strategy is often essential to channel success. However, there’s something even more fundamental to your business, something that first must be in place to serve as a foundation for that success.Wine-tasting dinner party

Now, what I’m about to suggest isn’t a magic bullet; it won’t change things for you overnight. But if you apply it to each partner engagement, in every channel marketing program planning meeting, this insight can lead you to channel partner tranquility through the holidays and beyond. Are you ready for this pearl of wisdom? Here goes:

Every time you go to meet with a partner executive or partner sales person, ask yourself two questions:

1) How can I make their lives a little better today?


2) When I leave here today, will they be glad that I came?

That’s right. The key to channel success isn’t a genius marketing strategy or the perfect channel program.   It all starts by accepting them for who they are and then looking in the mirror and asking yourself those two questions.

And the best part? You can also use this technique to help you better enjoy the next holiday get-together with family!  😉

Try it and get back to me with your thoughts.

Move the Channel,


email me

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,


4 things your distribution channel partners will expect in 2015

Goldfish Jump Out Of Bowl 2 - expectationsAs you can tell from my last few posts, it is a busy time for 2015 channel strategy and planning.   My clients often ask me, “what do our distribution partners expect from us in 2015?”.

Let’s talk about what your Channel will expect from you in 2015.

1.)    Simplicity — Your Channel Partners don’t want a partner program that needs a map & key to navigate.   They want a program that clearly states what is expected from them and what resources will be available to help them deliver solutions to the market.  Design an engagement and reward portal that tracks their goals and gives them easy access to the handful of the most important components and tools available.

Here is great guide to make sure you aren’t over complicating things:

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

Name: Email:

2.)    Clear Expectations — Yes, Channel Partners need to know your expectations so they can build those expectations into their company goals for 2015. By integrating benefits like soft benefits into your channel incentive program you can deliver a personal touch that leads to deeper, stronger relationships with your partners.

3.)    More Efficient Communication — Notice I did not say “MORE” communication. This year you should try to be more deliberate and concise with your message and how you deliver it. The channel has more “noise” than ever before, and how you communicate with your partners will help determine your success this year.  This goes for both your communication to your channel partner and your marketing THROUGH the channel to the End Buyer.

4.)    Be A Part Of Something Great — Your channel partners don’t want to be chess piece in your overall company strategy—they want to feel as important as the first chair in a world-class symphony. Share with them in a meeting what the goals will be for the entire channel ecosystem, and why their role is so critical to the channel’s overall success. There is a reason why Martin Luther King said “I have a Dream”, and not “I have a Plan”.   This is where most organizations tend to fall short. The companies that are able to do this well tend to have the best and most loyal channels.600-029042

As always, send me an email or give me a ring with some of your ideas and questions. I couldn’t be more excited about moving the channel in 2015!

Move the Channel,

Email Me

%d bloggers like this: