Extracting Extra Business Value From Channel Programs

  • January 19, 2018

Is your organization aligned around how to best realize optimal business value from your channel programs? According to Forrester’s latest report, Forrester Tech Tide: Channel Software Q1, defining and aligning around such an understanding is an initiative that is worth more focus than ever as emerging technologies make it easier to realize and measure return on channel marketing and other incentive spend.

Easier doesn’t necessarily mean simpler though, at least not where it comes to selecting a technology provider. What used to be a straightforward matter of analyzing which BPO could offer manual services at the lowest price has evolved into a more complex discussion around the total cost of ownership for new tools that remove many manual processes entirely. Is the would-be vendor a true partner, or just a software vendor?  How long will the solution be in place for and what return on investment can your org expect over that term?

In this extraordinary era of enhanced attribution for our marketing efforts, ROI should be apparent and built right in to any channel marketing solution your org is considering.

Here are four areas to consider as you look to extract more value from your channel programs:

Automating Key Processes

This one is super straightforward.  Do you enjoy your automatic coffee maker at home in the morning?  How about your automatic dishwasher, your automatic laundry machines or the myriad other conveniences that modern life entails?  Eliminating manual processes, especially tedious ones, frees up our time to focus on other work; likely work that is of higher strategic value.  In the world of channel programs, automating processes through the use of computers has the added benefit of eliminating many of the common mistakes and therefore extra expenses associated with executing tasks such as incentive claim processing and auditing manually. Not only that, but computerized incentive claim processing enables you to speed up your entire incentive claim and fulfillment process, increasing user satisfaction which reflects favorably on your brand image up and down the channel.

Improving Channel Management Efficiencies

A bit more on the above point: automating processes frees you up to look for efficiencies elsewhere in your incentive programs or, indeed, your entire sales channel.  Consider the cascading effect of building a new efficiency into your promotions or your go to market strategy. Does it have a 10X or 20X downstream effect? What would this mean to you and your company?

One small tweak to a program flagged by one attentive user can increase leverage and sales power for 10,000 people downstream and technology enables us to make these adjustments quickly and at scale.

Lowering the Cost of Indirect Programs

Another vital factor to consider when defining how you realize ROI from your channel marketing software is this: technology works twenty-four hours per day for one cost.

Consider the expense load traditionally associated with simply getting in market with your indirect channel programs. Costs such as print collateral, shipping, training and travel expenses come right out of the program budget, reducing the amount you are able to spend on the incentive program itself.  A comprehensive channel marketing software solution lowers these costs in a non-trivial way and helps you to scale the frequency of communication to your channel. Such tools as automated email communications regarding claim status, online program documentation, and embedded training videos help you not only contribute to cost reduction but have the added benefit of building enhanced connectivity between brand and channel.

Improving Business Agility and Partner Performance

The Forrester report, authored by Jay McBain, also flags channel marketing software’s power to enhance business agility and partner performance.  While this can sound a bit fluffy on the surface, consider the freedom afforded to you by a tool that offers the ability to pivot and do different things. Low stakes experimentation is now possible down to territory or even dealer level in your channel, giving you a chance to test new training or communications collateral before rolling it out on a broader scale.

Strengthening partner performance not only helps drive business value for your organization in the form of more sales, it simply helps you do your job better. Setting your partners up for success lets you focus on how you can manage your channel better, and pay more attention to new areas of opportunity.

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