channel visibility

Visibility can drive SPIFF engagement

  • January 19, 2017

SPIFF engagement can be difficult to manage. Sales partners may get excited about the plan initially, but that interest can dwindle over time. Alternately, the program may fail to get much momentum in the first place and end up failing to deliver significant value. Keeping sales partners engaged over the life of the SPIFF program can be a complex matter, but it also gets easier if you have visibility into how and why channel partners take advantage of what you offer.

Of course, learning these details isn’t easy, but it has been especially difficult over the years as brands have had to contend with paper-based record management processes that severely limit the timeliness of sales reports. You can’t use raw sales data to learn about a SPIFF program when you don’t get that information until months after the program is finished. What’s more, sales data is useful, but it doesn’t need to be the only information at your disposal. Modern channel management programs provide a variety of tools to help brands get more out of sales incentives, including better direct communication with sales partners.

Better communication and data transparency can have a powerful impact on SPIFF programs. Three of the most noteworthy ways to drive engagement with better visibility are:

“Data transparency can have a powerful impact on SPIFF programs.”

1. Tweak problematic programs quickly
The ability to change the parameters of a SPIFF initiative that is off to a bad start can be invaluable, especially if the reason for the slow start is a fairly simple error.

For example, if sales workers aren’t responding well to the SPIFF program, visibility into nearly real-time sales results will reveal the problem. From there, a channel management platform includes resources to communicate directly in the channel, allowing your team to send out a quick survey, reach out to specific partners that have responded well in the past or otherwise connect with the channel to identify why people aren’t engaging with the program.

These timely feedback mechanisms allow channel marketing teams to quickly adjust the parameters of the SPIFF program and resolve any problems in the field. What’s more, channel management tools will make it easier to communicate that change to sales partners, ensuring they know about the new option and are able to reengage with the sales incentive effort. Imagine if this whole hypothetical scenario is about a SPIFF program that is failing because eligibility requirements are too complex. You can get that feedback and get the program back on track in a matter of or days or weeks instead of having to wait for the initiative to run its course and analyze it after the fact.

2. Build stronger relationships in the channel
In many cases, engagement comes from sustained relationships that foster loyalty between sales workers in the channel and your brand. Your best partners are often those who you have had positive interactions with over the course of years together. Having greater visibility into the channel lets brands accelerate the relationship-building process by gaining a more intimate understanding of what is happening in the channel and responding accordingly.

“Engagement comes from sustained relationships that create loyalty.”

Think of it this way: In the past, a partner who you rarely interacted with and who sold your products but wasn’t necessarily particularly engaged with your brand would probably just slip into the background. You needed to put your time and energy into the top performers that create value and the struggling partners that hold you back. With easier visibility and communication in the channel, however, it is simpler to interact with all sales partners and identify how they best work with you. As a result, you save time on managing logistics and sending out paper-based communications and can put more time into building relationships with those partners who may previously have been relatively ambivalent about your brand. This effort turns you into a trusted partner and can drive engagement.

3. Improve training and marketing
Can you precisely identify the best way to market a SPIFF program to a specific partner? Do you understand exactly why training efforts have fallen short in the past? Incentive data is useful because it helps you recognize problems. You can use sales data and similar information from the channel to identify circumstances that you should investigate further. From there, channel management platforms can give you the communication and collaboration tools you need to gain deeper visibility into why various efforts work. Deep visibility into the channel can be incredibly disruptive for the training and marketing efforts that support your sales incentives, giving you the breadth and depth of information needed to target content effectively.

Transparency has long been impossible to achieve in the sales channel. With modern tools making it easier to gather and analyze data, brands can gain greater visibility into the channel and use that knowledge to drive SPIFF program and, ultimately, sales success.

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