In our last blog entry, HMI discussed a number of different ways you can bolster the engagement of members participating in your sales or marketing channel. We also referenced an idea that has become increasingly useful in recent years, namely the relation between a naturally occurring ecosystem and the habitat of a channel. While we’re all at least vaguely familiar – thanks biology class! – with the elementary workings of a naturally occurring ecosystem, understanding how a sales channel functions and thrives can be a bit more opaque.
What is a channel ecosystem? It’s an economic environment encompassing all of the business partners (dealers, contractors, distributors, resellers, and manufacturing reps) who work in a particular industry or within the web of a common manufacturer. It is shaped by such factors as end-user markets, industry regulations and geographical boundaries. And if properly managed and attended to — basically caring for it as you should any ecosystem — it can prove itself to be fertile ground for the right performance incentive campaign to grow sales and customer loyalty.
Employing the right incentive strategy for your sales channel, however, may require a macro approach that goes beyond engaging just one group or another. Even if one group in the channel is prospering, the ecosystem itself can still fail - to the detriment of all. Therefore, it’s important to consider different tactics that will support the system itself and get all groups working together. This is, in a word, symbiosis.
How can a symbiotic system of mutually beneficial relationships be achieved? One option is to offer frequent surveys to channel participants and reward them for their responses. After all, insight is one of the main drivers in constructing channel incentive programs, helping partners understand each other as well as they market into which they are selling.
Another idea is to offer a rewards “points-based system” (HMI’s OnDemand Awards Program) and offer “bonus points” for minor acts of collaboration. An example of this can be when a participant comments on a channel partner message board, or responds to a question that is posted on the “Ask” page of a partner portal. Because of advancing technology and the advent of social collaboration platforms, we are now finally able to track and show the ROI of such macro behaviors and implement them into HMI’s incentive programs.
If you have a wide or deep enough channel, and are a market leader, you may want to consider including a “macro” component as part of your overall incentive strategy. Currently, HMI is at the forefront of macro solutions, offering sales and channel performance incentives in over 120 countries and in 12 different languages. We pride ourselves on our forward-thinking approach, looking at the big picture and making sure the entire channel is being cultivated. To find out more about HMI’s channel and customer incentive programs, contact us today.