Are you researching channel incentives, Christmas focused ways to inspire your customers and prospects to buy? You need channel incentive programs and plans that are clear, include goals created around the desired impact you want to make, attract partners, and stick to your budget.
At Ovation Incentives we have years of experience and expertise in providing incentives to help our partners handle fluctuations in seasonal sales, deliver flexible channel incentives that have the right impact, and make your programs as flexible as they need to be to achieve ‘brilliant’. Read on to become fluent in channel partner incentive programs.
Prepare for Seasonal Sales Fluctuations
Sometimes the Christmas incentives drive kicks off as early as October, but by the end of November many businesses are experiencing the busiest time of year, a period that lasts through the New Year sales and only calms down once the annual festive shopping frenzy finally ends. To make the best of the opportunity and fill your coffers for the coming year, you’ll need to make careful preparations. Don’t forget sales reps will need time to become familiar with your new sales channel incentives program.
Different products sell better at different times of year. Electronic goods, for example, sell year-round but there’s a boom at Christmas. Sales channel incentives knowledge like this reveals the buying behaviour and sale cycle of your customers, and that in turn helps you nail a successful incentives promotion, and decide how long to keep it going. When you understand the times of year when you sell most, and the products that sell best at different times of year, you can plan incentives and promotions in advance to take seasonal fluctuations into account.
At the same time, you need to prepare a schedule including plenty of time. It can easily take months to get all your marketing plans, emails, landing pages, printed materials, vouchers and fulfilment systems ready, especially when it involves marketing support for channel partners. If your product sells like hot cakes on and around Black Friday in November, for example, you might want to begin planning your sales incentive programs for distributors and channel partner incentives in August.
Create Training Resources for Sales Reps
Comprehensive, clear channel partner incentives, training materials and resources will help your sales reps sell more during the Christmas period. This can mean online and offline training. The better the training and product familiarisation, the more your people will be able to boost sales.
Seasonal fluctuations mean there’s more competition than ever between brands. If a sales rep isn’t fully confident about your company’s products, it’ll probably show. They might even decide not to bother with yours and focus on a competing brand’s products instead, which could prove disastrous. Incentive promotions only work when the people doing the selling are genuinely on board.
If the distributors, dealers, retailers, and others you’re collaborating with have inexperienced seasonal employees they only bring in for the busy period, they’ll potentially be even less familiar with your products, needing even better support from printed and offline materials. While you can’t control what your competitors are doing, you can certainly control the resources you create to support more sales of your own products.
Provide Flexible Channel Incentives
Your channel incentives should always be both flexible and responsive. If there’s a revolutionary product that fails to realise its predicted potential, and you decided to use it to incentivise sales people to sell your product over another company’s, you’d potentially be stuck with a poorly performing incentive scheme and a warehouse full of obsolete goods.
There are more issues around choosing a very specific product for your channel partner incentive programs. It indicates you’ve made a fairly basic, broad assumption about the target audience you’re aiming for, and that can be dangerous. Assuming everyone over 50 is interested in products designed specifically for older people, for example, means you can easily alienate the many affluent, youthful over 50s. They might not feel old enough to qualify for that kind of age-focused product, which means you may end up offending them more than you delight them.
It’s important to harness the right types of channel incentives. The idea is that you choose a suite of appropriate incentives for the people being incentivised; bearing in mind everyone is different. Age and other simplistic ways of categorising people can easily land you in trouble, so take care over avoiding inappropriate, unwisely targeted incentives. If it isn’t effective and well received, it won’t have the desired effect. It could even damage your brand.
Use a Flexible Communication Strategy
Flexibility is vital for great communication, too. The way you communicate your incentives needs to flex easily to meet people’s differing needs. Rely on just the one channel and it could be disastrous.
Highlight the need to implement a flexible communications strategy that will achieve the desired reach.
While apps and social media are universal for the under 40s, don’t forget people as old as 100 and more are perfectly capable of using mobile phones, apps and social media. Challenge lazy assumptions to avoid falling into that kind of trap.
Use email, apps, and social media. Communicate powerful channel incentive programs via sales platforms and websites. Use natural and paid search to make your messaging visible to more people. Print leaflets, send postcards, do direct mail drops. Phone people, put up posters, use Android as well as iOS. It’s so much better to cover every eventuality than leave a chunk of potential responders out in the cold. You want the widest possible variety of people to join in with your scheme.
Listen to Your Channel Partners
Listen to your channel partners. Assess them carefully against your business objectives and identify the partners you most want to keep and cultivate. It’s important to stay in close touch with them so you get the best kind of feedback, in other words feedback that’s both fast and relevant. They’ll need to prepare to make the most of the busy Christmas period too, which means you’ll need to start the process well before the rush itself begins.
- Analyse your channel partner’s business model, drivers, and KPIs
- Offer a full range of incentives including refunds, marketing development funds, rewards, sales promotion incentive funds and more – something to please everyone
- Pin down exactly what success looks like – you need clear measures of success to monitor carefully as the program rolls out
- Capture performance metrics and take action if anything looks like nose-diving or being particularly successful
- Make it really easy for people to sign up to your program
- Make sure everyone involved fully understands the program criteria, objectives, and benefits
Boost Seasonal Sales with Targeted Channel Incentives
Now you know how to tie your Christmas incentives programs into the wants and needs of everyone involved, choose the perfect incentives, and ally programs directly with your business goals and aims.
Channel incentives at Christmas can significantly boost seasonal sales. Which Christmas sales incentives will you pick next time? In the meantime why not book a demo with Ovation Incentives and see just how easy and effective it can be with our global digital incentives and rewards platform supporting you? Alternatively, get in touch – we’ll be delighted to explore the potential with you.