Channel incentives. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re no stranger to them. They’re likely a pillar of your business, helping you stay relevant and profitable, and furthermore, helping you maintain the loyalty of your valued channel partners.
But as things change—market demands, technology and how your partners do business in general—you’ve got to work to keep up.
Technology plays a big part in keeping up—no surprise there, right?
Especially when it comes to the technology that powers your channel incentive efforts. After all, the right channel incentive technology solution can do everything from drive incremental revenue to create a competitive advantage.
That said, let’s talk technology and the questions you might ask as you consider a channel incentive technology solution that positions you more competitively to your channel partners.
First Things First—Make No Assumptions When It Comes to Integration
When you’re talking about investing in technology for the purpose of channel management, you’ve probably encountered the host of apps and technology products promising easy integration.
And integration is important, because you’re already leveraging a host of technology solutions that help you manage your operations—things like your customer relationship management tool, inventory management software, logistics management tools and more.
Technology is a huge piece of the way you operate and thrive, and those “easy integration” options make the task seem like, “Oh, yeah. No problem—it’s a quick plugin, and we’re set.”
Not so fast.
Making a business decision to invest in a channel incentive technology solution requires a clear view of 1) your incentive program’s specific objectives, and 2) the strategies needed to achieve those objectives. Anything less will lead to subpar results.
That’s why, before you do anything else, it’s critical to first define your overarching goals and objectives. After all, a technology investment is no small venture, and if it just delivers the status quo results you’ve come to expect, it's a questionable spend.
Three Key Considerations When Researching Your Channel Technology Investment
Once you’ve strategically defined your incentive’s objectives and have planned a way to measure them, you can start evaluating your technology investment (i.e. shopping around). Here are three key inclusions to consider before you commit.
- Communication. The success of any channel incentive relies on communication—your end users have to know about the opportunity before they can first leverage and ultimately maximize it, right?
An airtight communication strategy and campaign allows your brand, product and messaging to penetrate the channel and define the relationship with your partners, but you need the means to implement it.
The takeaway here?
Make sure your technology platform integrates with and supports the advances of digital marketing. Even better, seek out a solution that goes one step further and features them.
The result is the ability to benefit from scalable personalized communication.
- Data management. Behavioral data including pipeline activity, proposals, lead follow-up, quotes and specs, and signed contracts is a critical piece of the design of any incentive program. It’s a ctitical piece of measurement, too, because it allows you to actively track whether your program’s performance is measuring up to defined goals.
As a channel distributor, such valuable data can empower you to more strategically guide your sales and marketing strategy, take ownership of joint growth strategies, and anticipate customer needs.
Right now, there’s no shortage of tools on the market that allow you to capture that data.
But if your existing technology systems aren’t consolidated (and whose are?), any channel incentive technology solution you onboard has to give you control when it comes to data management, i.e. not put you at the mercy of proposed feature rollouts that may or may not come to fruition.
The takeaway here?
Doing so will ensure the data you need to get the results you expect doesn’t fall through the cracks.
- Data insight. As budget master, you need clear and consolidated data views of things like sales and claims with the benefit of quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year perspective in order to make informed and ongoing decisions as you manage your investment.
And as end users, your loyal and valued channel partners want options for the way they receive, allocate and spend the dividends from your channel incentive program(s).
The takeaway here?
Seek out a solution that does them both—and more.
Look for technology that can clearly track actionable data and dollars; that features a clear view of promotion intelligence like ROI and tax compliance; and that offers visibility into end-user data like award issuance and spend.
Your Channel Incentive Technology Is an Investment
It’s a tool that—together with your incentive strategy—is uniquely designed to support your incentive program's objective(s) and help you achieve your overarching corporate goals.
Make sure you land on a solution that allows you to easily prove the value of that investment and successfully captures the attention of and drives loyalty among your valued channel partners along the way.