What Are the Key Elements of an Excellent Sales Channel Program?

by: Steve Damerow August 17, 2017

Implementing a high-performing sales channel program can be a challenging prospect. You want your brand at the forefront of the salesforce's mind. But how, exactly do you accomplish that? After all, you have limited insight into their everyday activities and relationships. Plus, you’re not interfacing with them during the day-to-day grind.

What are you going to do? The solution is both easier and harder than you think.

By providing a program allowing reps to interact with one another, gain rewards and benefit from incentives for sales, and access additional knowledge and information about a specific brand or product, you dramatically increase your chance of success.

But how can you create that program?

Below, we’ve outlined the five pillars that support every successful sales channel program on the market today. Read on to learn how you can leverage these for the benefit of your organization.

Pillar 1: Communicate, Communicate, Then Communicate More with the Reps

Because you have no ownership over the channel, you have very little control to exercise. Instead, you need to focus on influence and channel management. And the best way to do that is through communication.

However, we’re not talking about sporadic emails or haphazard newsletters. You need to communicate with deliberation, at set times. You should be planning your communications well in advance, and include option space for unexpected updates.

Also, make sure you're hitting the three C's: consistency, clarity, and conciseness. Because, if you're lucky, you'll only get about thirty seconds of their attention span. As a result, your communication needs to work hard, conveying what's required at a glance, while also generating a sense of enthusiasm or interest.

Good topics include:

  • Product updates
  • New promotions, benefits and incentives
  • Other impactful changes

Pillar 2: Train Them on the Product, Then Teach Them to Sell the Hell Out of It

If you want someone to sell your product, you need to equip them to do it right. This means providing informative and useful content about the product, including its features and benefits. Tools include:

  • Printable grab-and-go product reference sheets
  • Grids pointing out competitive deficiencies
  • Specific product training (quizzes, videos, webinars, etc.)

Included in all the information about the product should be why customers actually care. Giving them the answers to customers' WIFM questions (What's in it for me?) is incredibly helpful when they're developing positioning and sales pitches. In fact, think of taking it a step further and circulating the tips and pitches from your top-performing reps amongst the entire group. You'll be acknowledging the top performers while also improving everyone's ability to sell.

It's a win-win!

Pillar 3: Encourage Healthy Competition

A good sales force is competitive by nature. Put that to work for you by creating promos and contests designed to boost productivity and drive enthusiasm. Maybe it's a tiered rewards system to incentivize individual sales. Or perhaps it's a regional competition, pitting whole stores against each other. Whatever the form factor, be sure to use it to drive your ultimate brand goals.

Pillar 4: Functional Integration Is Key

There are two main reasons your program should integrate into the sales systems as seamlessly as possible.

First, you don’t want to give reps a reason not to use it. Toggling back and forth between programs or screens creates unnecessary barriers and a drag on sales time. So be sure you’re part of the flow.

Second, the closer your integration, the better the data flow for all parties. You’ll have more real-time visibility into program performance, and a better ability to spot problems and errors as they occur.

Pillar 5: It’s More Than Just Point of Sale Integration

Today's environment is constantly on the go, and most of the sales force follows the ABC rule: Always Be Closing! As a result, your program needs to have both portability and flexibility. In other words, if there’s a device with an Internet connection, you better make sure you’re compatible.

Think about this way: if a traveling salesperson has to wait until they’re back in the office to enter and close a sale, that’s an opportunity ripe for failure. Maybe the paperwork gets lost. Or the customer changes their mind the next day. You just lost a sale.

Bottom line? Your program should be reducing friction, not creating it.

Need Help Launching Your Sales Channel Program?

Incentive Solutions has what you need. Our program design and implementation experience can get you up and running in as little as four weeks. Whether you’re looking to promote new products, reward knowledge and training participation, or simply increasing your sales, we can design a solution that’s just right for you.

Call 1-866-567-7432, and let Incentive Solutions help you build a sales channel program that works!