Inventory data unsung hero of successful SPIFF programs

Successful SPIFF marketing initiatives depend on knowing the audience. Brands must understand who their top sellers are, how those individuals are motivated and what barriers they face. It is also vital to identify conditions that may hold back lesser sellers to get them engaged and focused. This outcome is possible only if organizations have a clear idea of what goes on in the channel, which often means being able to compare how many items have been shipped to sales partners relative to what has been sold. Visibility into channel inventories enables brands to understand unique sales environments, making it easier to keep SPIFF marketing efforts on target.

“Visibility into channel inventories enables brands to understand unique sales environments.”

Understanding your audience
Being able to identify your audience and its needs is critical in any marketing program. A report from the American Marketing Association pointed out the rise of digital data gives organizations new opportunities to identify their audiences and target those partners effectively. Essentially, as individuals create more data and companies gather more information, marketers can bring all of the data together to gain an accurate picture of who they try to reach.

This advice may be focused on the consumer sector, but it is just as evident in the channel. What motivates sales partners? Why do they choose to emphasize one brand or product over another? Why do salespeople either respond to or neglect SPIFF programs? Why do SPIFF initiatives run out of steam even after a good start?

These are the kinds of questions channel marketers must ask themselves on an ongoing basis, and having the right data is invaluable in getting good answers. Data pertaining to product inventories is a particularly notable advantage here.

Using inventory data to drive SPIFF engagement
A sales partner who pushes your brand in light of a SPIFF program but ends up not having enough inventory to continue a rapid sales pace, can easily disengage. At the same time, brands could be left with product sitting in warehouses across other parts of the channel because sales workers in those regions aren’t excited about the SPIFF program and haven’t pushed sales as a result. Brands that are able to understand inventory levels throughout the channel can:

  • Identify areas where inventories may run low and reach out to sales partners to prevent supply from shrinking to problematic levels.
  • Recognize problem areas where products aren’t moving and adjust SPIFF programs accordingly.
  • Pinpoint warning signs that production and shipping capabilities can’t keep up with demand in the channel.
  • Shift SPIFF initiatives based on initial responses instead of having to wait on results after the program has been completed.

“Visibility can be obtained by tracking inventory levels through a channel management software system.”

Brands can achieve all of this by tracking inventory levels through a channel management software system. The platform can track data across even the most complex channel systems, providing both broad and specific views into sales. From there, you can compare sales during any period with historic data to identify unusual activity. With that information in hand, you can compare normal sales performance with sales during SPIFF programs and a specific initiative’s results. All of this information can prove incredibly insightful and would have been impossible to gather in the past, but inventory data can be a key component here.

Identifying inventory levels at various times within SPIFF programs enables channel marketers to identify the relationship between product inventory levels in the channel and SPIFF program performance. Beyond making it easier to adjust SPIFF initiatives, this data can guide future efforts by giving brands the information they need to align production and shipping capabilities with expected results based on historic data. This capability ensures everybody in the channel gets the right quantity of products based on individual needs and sales expectations. Inventory data is only one part of the channel management web, but it shouldn’t be overlooked.