In today’s global and telecommuting marketplace, conducting in-person meetings or “workshops” with a vendor partner is rare. Due to varying locations, busy schedules, and more travel expense restrictions, the face-to-face time usually suffers. Because of this, the development of a global channel loyalty program will often consist of many video and web conferences, but only a couple of in-person meetings. In many cases, those in-person meetings turn out to be one-way presentations rather than creative collaborations.
That is why I am a fan of extended “workshop” meetings, where incentive partners are able to meet face-to-face to develop their mutual business. Without this type of meeting, a client can miss out on two key components of a successful partnership.
1.) Meeting the team:
Without a workshop, the client would not have the chance to meet the entire team responsible for executing their channel loyalty strategy. Because of the extended time, all of the important components of the team can be personally introduced, including operations, customer service, program management, development, marketing, communications, and global specialists. In addition, time spent with the executive management can serve as a reflection of the organization’s overall strategy and success.
2.) Knowing the team:
When you are launching an innovative global incentive program, what is more important than trusting your vendor partner and having confidence in the team responsible for your initiative?
For better or worse, these two critical components can only truly be achieved through the old fashioned method of getting on a plane and heading to your partner’s headquarters. I am convinced that this should be a requisite when it comes to any strategically complex channel incentive program. The investment and impact is too significant to approach it any other way. Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in virtual meetings, and I know they are an efficient way of getting many things accomplished. But when it comes to initiatives that require great understanding between the client and vendor partner, there is no substitute for an “all in” session.
Finally, speaking from experience, it’s also not just the client who benefits from such an engagement. In-person meetings are also tremendous opportunities for the vendor partner to learn what real challenges and opportunities are facing their client and the rest of the industry. The ability to build and learn from new relationships can aid long-term goals and even create friendships between business partners. As someone who is passionate about channel incentives, I know this has been true for me.