Motivating channel sales partners: What makes them tick?

 

For manufacturers, motivating distributors to sell their products is a constant challenge. The obvious answer is to boost financial compensation for salespeople at the distributor level. But compensation is only part of the puzzle. Manufacturers need to be active with their channel sales reps to ensure they continue to be motivated to sell their products for the long term. There are a million books on the topic of motivation techniques, but there is still plenty of guesswork and trial and error for many manufacturers trying to drive their channel sales partners.

“Compensation is only part of the puzzle.”

But to stimulate productivity, manufacturers need to boost morale, create incentive programs and build relationships. This is where these basic tenets below need to be the foundation of any motivation techniques companies deploy:

Keep morale high
A manufacturer can influence retail worker sentiment toward their brand. This can be achieved by engaging online or in-person with product knowledge training, the implementation and effective facilitation of incentives programs or visits to physical locations by company representatives. Distributor customers want to buy products from knowledgable salespeople, and salespeople want to ensure they are providing the best user experience with their product knowledge. Win-win.

Financial incentive programs
Manufacturers not only need to ensure that their product lines are high quality, but they need to ensure that their products are pushed to customers of the distributor by channel sales partners. The best way to do that is to have a comprehensive financial incentive program that is not only simple to use – for example, with online claim entry and redemption – but it also pays out a set number of times per week. This is important because even if the incentive amounts are lower than those of competitors, the program will still succeed on the merits of the user experience. A 360insights survey of retail sales associates supported this motivational tool. The survey found that 97 percent of retail sales associates had previously moved retail customers to one brand’s products based in part on the quality of their incentive program.

Strong relationships
With these two aspects in place, manufacturers can build relationships with channel salespeople. This involves taking the time to visit store locations as the brand representative to energize salespeople. The key here is to build advocates, which requires providing all the information salespeople need, engaging in feedback discussions, resolving any product issues and processing incentive claims as quickly as possible. All told, the goal here is mindshare of the salespeople: Being the most familiar and go-to brand will have a significant net impact on manufacturer sales at the distributor level.