These five proven principles of motivation will have every member of your sales channel playing the same song and well on their way to applause and encores.
A successful channel performance improvement (PI) program is like an orchestra. Each section may play different notes and each instrument has its own sound, but all are united in a common goal.
Distribution channels also have sections – a direct sales force and an indirect network of distributors, dealers, resellers, retailers and other intermediaries – who need to focus on the same goals.
Delivering outstanding sales results requires an integrated push-pull strategy that targets all channel audiences. Motivation begins with setting goals for improved sales, service and customer satisfaction. These goals must then be translated to the channel. Often, five or more groups of participants must strive to achieve similar goals.
A critical component of goal setting is an ROI analysis. A performance increase forecast is needed to calculate the investment required. This, in turn, guides five key program decisions: rules, a communications plan, tracking technology, education support, and awards and recognition.
1. Program rules must inspire.
Your participants will judge the quality of the program by the rules. They will ask, “What’s in it for me?” and “What is required?” You must provide a unique and meaningful selling proposition customized to each audience segment. Be mindful of the costs of open-end and closed-end rules – your rules are your budget.
2. Interact with a strong communication plan that reflects your corporate image.
Whether you use print, video, Web sites, flash mail or kickoff meetings, a consistent look and message at every channel touchpoint is necessary. There is a direct correlation between communication frequency and results.
3. Use technology to track and connect with participants.
Tracking is more than periodic progress/earnings statements. It is the umbilical cord linking marketplace activity to individual and corporate performance. The more participants know about what they have earned and how far they need to go, the more engaged and active they become.
4. Use education to power your program.
Education is an important component. Elevating sales skills and product knowledge is a sure-fire way to establish a competitive point of difference, align business goals with a diverse audience, and increase performance.
5. Combine awards and recognition to the above for synergistic effects.
Combined with the program components listed in numbers 1-4, awards can make a far bigger impact than they would make alone. It’s best to customize the offerings to the performance and interests of the participants. Also, combine various awards – travel, recognition and points – to make a powerful awards collection.
Apply these techniques and every channel member will be playing the same song, and that creates the sweet sound of sales success.
By Nathan Dean