While government and business leaders around the globe debate when and how the economy will turn back on, waiting for the proverbial green light will be too late and your organization will immediately be at a competitive disadvantage. Being well-prepared and truly understanding how to get your people, your operations and your sales back and running at full bore will be essential for survival.
As organizations emerge from the pandemic crisis and fire up their sales engines, it’s clear that the channel must adapt — shifting and aligning priorities (support), implementing new, more impactful channel strategies (enable) and leveraging the right solutions (engage).
Reinforce channel support
Begin with straightforward conversations about new priorities and expectations, as well as shifts in budgets and the resulting goals. Success can only be achieved if brands, partners and vendors
are aligned in a post-coronavirus world.
Invest in partner success programs — providing them with resources, knowledge and tools to achieve those established objectives. Also, redefine your value proposition and adapt your sales strategy to the current B2B landscape. Invite your partners to virtual strategy sessions where you jointly share your perspective and identify options for how to optimize performance in this new environment.
Enablement must look, feel and perform differently
Surveys indicate that nearly six in 10 vendors are either maintaining their existing budgets or increasing marketing spending despite the COVID-19 disruptions. The budgets may be there, but traditional tactics previously used in a pre-pandemic world are either no longer available or will no longer work. It’s time to put those budgets to work in new ways to move your enablement efforts forward. Before you do anything, ask your partners what they really need from you in terms of offers and support. Then consider the following:
- Invest in automation – Now is the time to accelerate digital transformation efforts with the time and existing budgets that are available from non-existent events. Channel leaders have the unprecedented opportunity to invest in and improve channel automation systems, including sales incentive platforms, partner portals, digital training programs and through-channel marketing.
- Amp up digital marketing efforts – From social media engagement and content syndication, to support for virtual events, the right mix of multi-touch digital marketing programs enable partners to attract buyers and build digital relationships with them.
- Deliver regular cadence – Regularly delivering information and valuable content to channel partners is paramount. The days of blasting out evergreen messages only when brands want something are over. Effective communication now requires tactics that focus on attracting and maintaining mindshare and engagement.
Leverage the right engagement tools to drive sales
When it comes to channel engagement, the right mix of sales incentive tools is still the most effective and impactful.
- Spiffs and volume incentive rebates – Post-pandemic spiffs and VIR are an effective way to incent the right behavior that drives not just immediate sales, but sustainable sales growth. We have to think past the initial uptick and measure true effectiveness.
- Consumer rebates – Use rebates to drive sales, capture market share and keep the pulse of the customer. Monitoring purchase behavior is critical during this time period, but not just that they purchased, but why and how.
- Sales allowances – Keep close track of the price points where consumers are engaging, as it will likely be different from a pre-COVID world.
- Automated incentive platform – Leveraging a sales incentive platform can help channel leaders manage multiple programs at once, have visibility into what’s working and what’s not and provide actionable insights that will improve business decisions.
Smart leaders that understand the boundless opportunities that await, if proper planning is done now, will reap the benefits tenfold when it’s all said and done.
Steven Kellam is senior vice president of alliances and marketing at 360insights, which provides a software as a service (SaaS) platform for measuring and managing incentive programs.
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