By: Mike Spellecy
It’s often the premise of T.V. dramas. It’s also a common plot found far too often in Channel Rep incentive programs as manufacturers use awards alone (usually non-cash) to try to persuade participants to be loyal to their brand.
Based on a recent Channel Market Study conducted by Maritz, more than 70% of participants have the opportunity to participate in at least two incentive programs with 23% having six or more programs battling for their attention and commitment. The result: sponsoring manufacturers often find themselves engaged in a “me-too” competition, which does nothing but up the ante in an attempt to gain mindshare.
But it doesn’t have to be – no, it shouldn’t be – this way. Channel Rep incentive programs work, as the study validates. But to achieve success, the sponsoring manufacturer must take appropriate steps to ensure its program is the one of choice for the Channel Rep. And these steps include more than just awards. Implementation of key best practices will help create a relationship that builds an advocate for your brand and, more importantly, a Channel Rep who resists competitive offers.
Here is the first in a five-part series on the key steps to creating True Loyalty and making you the manufacturer of choice in your channel:
Put the Participant at the Center of Your Design Process
No, it’s not about ego. Rather, it’s about viewing the participant as a foundational element around which your program is built. As the Maritz study has shown, non-cash incentives are a very effective tool for building sales in the channel. However, the incentive itself, as a stand-alone element, will not maximize the probability of success. The most successful programs are the ones that are able to determine what it is the participant wants to do, enable it and then look for the way in which the sponsoring company can benefit.
Think of it as designing and operating your incentive program in the same way that Jillian Michaels does personal training on T.V.’s The Biggest Loser. She doesn’t go about finding folks who she thinks could use a healthier lifestyle. Rather, she finds people who want to become healthier, facilitates the process and benefits as a result. So by putting Channel Reps at the center and helping them get what they want, your business will benefit as well.
Determining what the participant wants can be difficult, but it is absolutely critical. Your program and your brand will truly stand out if you use the Channel Rep’s views of the world and what they are looking for as the centerpiece around which you design your strategy.
What are some things you do to put people at the center of programs?