4 Simple Strategies to Deepen Relationships with Channel Partners: An Interview with EGR
There’s an old adage at EGR that sums up our belief in the true value of engagement: We help you transform relationships into partnerships you won’t walk away from. Some might say that’s easier said than done. But now more than ever, we’re seeing companies give more and get from these cross-channel relationships.
Our successful clients in the building products space have embraced several methods for enhancing alliances with partners. We asked Robert Legge, Director of Consumer and Channel Marketing at EGR, to share some key insights and strategies.
As Robert explains, sometimes it takes just a few effective initiatives to tighten a slackened channel. With a common focus on the customer, these partner relationships are essential for driving the buying process, and they’re cost-effective. In fact, they are a key business asset.
Read on to learn how these four strategies can increase ROI and make sales channel partners and customers even happier.
First, why prioritizing these relationships matters
Marketing teams often inherit channel relationships. Sometimes these relationships suffer during resource transitions, leaving both parties in uncertain territory with a steep learning curve. In these moments, hiring an engagement partner can help to build continuity and restore stability.
Like a satisfying marriage, both parties need to understand the benefits of their arrangement, individually and collectively. Having a third party expert, like an engagement team, can bring fresh perspective and better strategies for deepening the union and building on business intelligence. With data and organization in place, streamlining the sales funnel, promoting products and services, and enhancing communication become intuitive next steps. From there, we’ve seen our clients build out better B2B sales partner programs and get much better returns on their marketing initiatives across the board.
Strategy 1: Adopt a Single Platform to Streamline Your Communications
The greatest impact rewards portals have on channel sales partners – beyond higher sales performance – is streamlined and simplified communication. “When we build programs for brands, we start by inventorying communications to understand who needs to be talked to and how we can simplify every step in the communication process and add accessibility,” said Legge.
Once this is achieved, Legge works with the marketing and sales teams to develop personalized and targeted communications to reach everyone within the partner channels. With consistent and periodic messaging in place, marketing and sales can focus on better supporting the customer on a day-to-day basis.
Legge said for sales reps, a crucial piece in the communication mix is and will always be their performance. “Sharing performance data and giving instant access to sales numbers motivates teams and makes them feel empowered,” he said.
Legge and his team have been at the forefront of creating dynamic dashboards and business intelligence to help all sides of the selling curve improve their performance. “This is one of the crucial aspects of turning these sales partnerships into high-achieving alliances and creative collaborations,” said Legge. “You’ve got to look at the data.”
Strategy 2: Offer Rewards That Improve Lives
Over the years, we’ve learned from sales representatives how much they appreciate loyalty programs with a range of rewards options–– especially, those that offer more than traditional cash awards.
“We find going beyond the transactional by offering high-touch and very personalized services can be very meaningful,” said Legge. “Our concierge travel service and tuition reimbursement program are very popular and give representatives something significant.”
In fact, we’ve found many loyalty program participants prefer to give away their rewards to loved ones.
EGR’s tuition reimbursement helps program participants invest their rewards in education. Additionally, the personalized concierge travel service enables sales members to plan trips around significant life events, like a partner’s 60th birthday. These kinds of awards are both meaningful and more memorable.
“Companies that pursue unique rewards options like these are better positioned than the companies that don’t,” said Legge. “Most sales reps see the benefit in the offering. They see that the companies care about them.”
Strategy 3: Elevate and Celebrate Your Co-Marketing Opportunities
Co-marketing arrangements can offer an exciting opportunity for brands and smaller businesses to leverage their strengths and create even better buying experiences for customers.
But sometimes the process to launch these initiatives involves more planning than anticipated. More often than not, clients struggle to get partners to use co-marketing budgets. Why? The process to get funding and spend it can be so time-consuming money is left on the table. “With co-marketing funds, we find our clients don’t realize the devil is in the details,” said Legge. “There can be a lot of legwork involved in managing co-marketing funds for both parties, from the marketing teams to the external partners.”
“We’ve seen brands transform relationships with sellers and buyers by collaborating on intimate customer events and special sales dinners. The less time spent out of the office, the better, so why not share a meal together?” To help both parties execute, EGR offers a scheduling and logistics service to help brands and partners launch their own curated events.
“Lots of brands offer a use-it-or-lose-it scenario with co-marketing funds. Without proper planning, it can be a lot to ask of both parties to run a product promotion event with training or a dinner with top sales folks,” said Legge.
EGR’s event-in-a-box service can help both parties reimagine events that will work from an invite-only preferred customer day to a bootstrapping off-site. By removing the stress of planning and logistics, the co-marketing leads can put their focus on the relationships they want to impact.
Strategy 4: Rely on Rebates: This Retro Sales Incentive Works
“I like to say it’s one more arrow in your quiver of benefits to offer your valued partners,” said Legge. Rebates may seem retro but they remain effective sales tools. For example, in the building products space, where small businesses struggle with tight marketing budgets.
“Our partners tell us how glad they are to be able to offer rebates in high-pressure sales situations,” said Legge. “There’s nothing smarmy about it. It’s up to the customer to decide if they want to move forward.” In addition to managing rebates, Legge’s team has compiled valuable feedback with each initiative.
On top of higher sales, he said some business owners feel their company stands out from the competition when they’re able to offer an exclusive benefit at a better price directly from the brand itself. “For many folks, an exclusive rebate offer is a testament to their know-how and experience,” said Legge. “In today’s competitive buying landscape, customers are always shopping online for better prices. This gives the seller yet another advantage.”
Interested in building a rebate program or deepening your relationship with existing channel partners? EGR can help! Reach out today, and Robert or one of our other channel experts will gladly get in touch.