In a distribution channel sales model, you sacrifice direct influence on your end-user customers in exchange for the benefits of channel partnerships. With the expanding connectivity of a digitalizing world and capabilities of channel technology, however, channel manufacturers are closer to having the best of both worlds. Those who keep their eye out for technology trends and get creative with channel solutions will gain the competitive edge. The ability to manage sales channel visibility can be the difference between solid B2B customer retention and kissing your market share goodbye.
Let’s talk about some of the ways you can use channel technology to manage sales channel invisibility and collect valuable channel data.
Use open enrollment features in your incentive program.
With an open enrollment process, your incentive program participants can register for your program without needing an invitation. This is a great way to collect contact data about channel customers you didn’t even know you had. Use your open enrollment registration form to not only collect basic information, but some of the firmographic, demographic, or product interest data that can better guide your sales and marketing strategies.
Data that’s hard to acquire can be easily collected during incentive program enrollment, since participants are willingly offering the information in exchange for something of value: the chance to earn rewards in your incentive program.
Use single-sign-on (SSO) technology to log and track user ID activity.
Much of the channel partner insights and data you could be collecting might be getting lost in a confusing or inconvenient customer experience. Aim to provide a cohesive, intuitive, branded experience for customers. Allow them to get to your e-commerce platform, incentive program, or access product information and training materials all from the same corporate domain.
One-stop, single-sign-on technology promotes cross-engagement with all the benefits or interaction points you offer customers, which keeps your brand top of mind and visible to them. Once they’re logged in, you can follow the activity of their user ID to see which parts of your website they visit, which products they want to learn more about, which studies catch their interest, and which blogs hook their attention.
Reward channel partners for submitting feedback forms.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could get regular debriefs from your distributors, dealers, contractors, or sales reps? Information about end-user needs, requests, main concerns, and product knowledge gaps to be filled? Position your channel incentive program to do just that: reward channel partners for submitting feedback through surveys and forms. With this flexible, easily-updated incentive program tool in your pocket, you can gather more accurate, up-to-date end-user data that helps you manage sales channel visibility.
Use data upload and claims verification technology to collect sales data.
Running sales incentive promotions is a great way to engage your channel sales partners and achieve quick sales growth. Know what sales promotions are also great for? Yep: getting channel data!
You can use online sales claim submission and verification in conjunction with your sales promotions to not only speed up the claims verification and reward delivery process, but to store sales data and documentation. The information you require in exchange for a reward is up to you—and you can deliver different reward amounts for more different types of purchase data. For example:
- End-user information, such as their system set-up, product and buying preferences, buying experience evaluations, or main areas of interest and concern—all this can help you better connect with and communicate with your product users.
- When you reward the collection of warranty registrations, you not only gather more end-user information, you add value and profit margin to the sale.
- Invoices and receipts can be submitted as sales claims, which helps you manage sales channel visibility with more thorough, accurate, documented purchase history.
Because of the high personal value and high engagement levels that are typical of channel incentive programs, they present a unique opportunity to collect sales data and manage sales channel visibility. By strategically using reward-earning requisites and incentive technology, you can maximize the channel data your program fetches, along with the benefits of sales increases and channel partner motivation.