When it comes Channel Incentive Programs, Global “Capabilities” are not enough

A young man jumping high at Lake Tahoe resortI love the Olympics!  Especially when the host City is a place that I have never personally experienced.   Although the World in many respects is getting smaller, when we see how distant and how foreign cultures can be we are reminded that Earth is wonderfully gigantic.

Most channel performance vendors these days say they have “Global Capabilities & Resources”.  But be careful, when it comes to delivering an Engagement program globally, capabilities and resources are not enough.

When the agency I work for first started delivering channel incentive programs worldwide almost 10 years ago, we thought we knew everything there was to know about the global arena. But admittedly, even when we felt like we had all of our global resources and “capabilities” soundly in place, it wasn’t until we actually started executing these rewards programs that we were informed by the experience necessary to deliver world-class solutions. For example, translations can be tricky when expanding your program into foreign regions. This seems like a no-brainer. But also not to be overlooked is the challenge of providing awards that are culturally appropriate and/or appealing. If you don’t realize that cricket in India is actually a more engaging sport than soccer, or that some cultures prefer to emphasize team components over individual ones, you might be missing out on the complete potential of your program. Whether it’s the culturally appropriate award or the custom report for a region’s unique sales structure, often times these are the nuances that only experience can teach us.

Despite the inevitable wounds born from these types of challenging experiences, what I’ve found ultimately develops is a sort of thick scar tissue that makes our global business smarter and stronger. Instead of having to deal with the subtleties of such complex solutions on the fly, now we are better able to anticipate and manage them before they arise.

So guess what…the landscape, the technology, the laws, the strategies and KPIs, all of it will continue to change and evolve, often unpredictably. And while none of us have the answers for what’s to come in 2014, I have to say previous experience sure comes in handy.

Make sure your vendor partners have more than just Global Capabilities, but true international program experience.   It’s the difference between a failed initiative and a Gold Medal Award-winning program.

As always, shoot me an email to let me know your global engagement program challenges or ideas.

Move the Channel,

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