By: Chris Davies
YES! You’ve done it. You’ve come up with an exciting solution to get your consumers to buy your product. So exciting, in fact, that your whole team is pumped: this is going to be the best channel marketing effort in the history of the company. Congratulations, but please pause and ask yourself this: are your partners going to like it? Does it suit their needs as a business and the needs of their outlets? Program flexibility is key these days when developing effective sale programs and marketing initiatives so keep your programs flexible by keeping an eye on these four key points and go collect your awesome sales spike.
1. Make It All About The End User
Before you even finalize your campaign, it really pays off to ask around your partner network to see what sort of programs work best for them. How do they like to get paid? Do they want you offering sales spiffs to their people, or would they prefer a sell-through allowance, market development fund or other incentive plan? It really makes the partners feel more valued because you are considering their needs and may even customize a program for them based on their feedback. It works out great for you because those happy and engaged partners will sell more.
2. Fit Your Spend To The Marketplace
Have you considered the social graph of each marketplace? What works in a major metropolitan area, may not exactly fly in the rural areas where your product is also being sold. Think about the seasonality factors at play as well: you may want to sell furnaces during the cold season and air conditioners during those hot and hazy days of summer and those types of weather can be happening at the same time in different parts of the country. We’re all aware that big cities garner huge marketing programs and sales programs as the consumer market is target rich, but spending the same amount of time and money on that type of program in an area that you need to drive an hour to get to the nearest store won’t work. The same holds true with your sales incentive programs.
Obviously, you cannot expect the same results you get in an urban environment from the rural locations and so it follows that your incentives programs should be scaled or otherwise customized for those marketplaces which are a bit on the fringe. Your sales channel can only be rewarded on their ability to sell. Perhaps you may want to reward the rural areas a little higher as they have fewer chances of making transactions whereas in the downtown core of a major city would have dozens of customers per hour. You need to make every marketing dollar make sense; don’t throw it away. But what happens if that major city has some freak weather phenomenon that came completely out of the blue? Think about the freak snowstorm that hit Tucson Arizona last week during the Accenture Match Play Golf Championship? Nobody saw that one coming. The golf course “more used to scorching temperatures, was transformed into a winter wonderland”. Your program is completely based on seasonality and you’re locked into the program for two more weeks. What do you do? If you had more flexibility to stop your channel from selling lawn chairs to start selling snow blowers, you’d be a marketing genius!
3. Create Programs Around Product Launches
If you are looking to build strong relationships between your front line sellers and a new product line there’s nothing like augmenting great product training with an aggressive sales spiff program. From the sales rebates perspective, the same principal applies: if you’re trying to break a new product or break into a new territory, your sales incentive has the power to help you make friends fast.
4. React. Now.
Your biggest competitor has just launched a sales incentive program within the same dealer channel as yours after seeing how your program works (yes, it can be found out), they decide to make theirs slightly more lucrative. Now what do you do? For the past few weeks, you and your team have been on cloud 9 watching the increase business roll in, only for it to halt in a heartbeat. Can you react? Can you add a few more dollars to the program to put yourself back on top. Being flexible means being able to see what happens and react to it within seconds. Not days or weeks or just give up altogether.
What it all boils down to is this: plan to be flexible. Make sure your program has the ability to adapt to changing scenarios and freak snowstorms. The last thing you want to do is have your sales staff selling snow shovels to a customer walking into the store wearing shorts and sandals!
Chris Davies is a sales channel incentive specialist at 360Incentives.com. You can connect with him on Twitter at @360Davies or LinkedIn here.