Whether you’re a Channel Chief, a Channel Marketer, a Finance Analyst, or in Sales Operations within the high-tech industry, you are exposed to many changes that are driven by channel and end-customer dynamics. Some of these changes include:
- New channel players emerge while existing channel players are becoming hyper-specialized, not only in sub-industries but in specific business processes.
- B2B Consumerization – B2B buyers expect to buy solutions the same way as consumers do. In most cases, B2B buyers may already have made a purchase decision before they ever engage a sales rep.
The high-tech channel not only plays a key role in reaching the long tail of end customers, but as new markets pop up they are well positioned to get manufacturers in the game as soon as possible when margins are higher. We can all think of examples where new markets emerged that weren’t there 3 years ago, and the challenges of motivating and enabling partners to positon manufacturer products for new opportunities.
As a manufacturer, what do you need to do to evolve and win in today’s channel? End-customer decisions are moving online, therefore a prominent digital presence is a must. Digital marketing is how you embolden your digital brand, both directly and through your channel partners.
The current status of marketing incentives is however far from optimal. Consider high-tech companies that either have rudimentary incentive programs or legacy programs that are costly for the manufacturer but free to the partners. In either case, partners are more than willing to share the costs of incentive programs as long as they expand their footprint alongside with the manufacturers.
Manufacturers need to expand their use of marketing incentive programs such as Market Development Funds (MDF), Co-Op, hybrids, and SPIFFs. The number of channel sales and marketing programs need to increase dramatically. Also, programs can’t be generic. The structure of each program must reflect the partner’s hyper-specialization and should be aligned with the manufacturers’ objectives for target end-customer markets.
This requires moving away from PDFs and email and instead adopting solutions that both manufacturers and partners can access via a true cloud solution. Such a cloud solution needs to be fed real-time channel sales (POS) data so that MDFs don’t become yet another “slush fund”. POS data matching is essential in understanding which marketing and channel incentive plans work best, and pushing the channel towards them so that partners can double down on proven investments.
The key is having quality channel sales data, and the ability to match that data to specific sales incentive goals. When those goals are reached you can automatically make new marketing funds available to partners. Not only do you stop offering incentive programs for free, but you can automatically reward the most effective partners in a timely fashion. It sounds complicated, but it’s not because almost all of the process is automated.
The real question is, are you ready to revamp your marketing incentive programs and adopt a cloud solution that aligns your partners and channel sales/POS data while you are making it easier for partners to do business with you?
Please visit Model N’s booth #1804 at Dreamforce, November 6-9 in SF for a demo.