Do enablement and incentive programs build loyalty with resellers?
by John Kovacevic
A few years ago our old, overused, beloved speakers had stopped working, their best days were done. After much deliberation a budget was agreed and the following weekend saw us shopping for brand new speakers.
With a couple of speaker brands in mind and a budget decided, we went to a reputable store, we found the speaker section and two brands that we recognised.
One of the floor sales staff rushed over and asked what we were looking for. We asked for advice on the two different speakers we liked. He pointed at the brand we were swaying towards and said, "These ones are better". "Why?" we asked. "Because they produce better sound than the other ones and I can give 20% off if you buy them now" he replied. Although a discount was tempting, we wanted to know more about the two products and compare sound quality, which unfortunately wasn’t offered. We mentioned we will need some time to think about it and left the store quickly.
We soon saw another store that looked welcoming. Clearly a competitor to the first store. After a few minutes of walking around the store we found the same two speakers. A gentleman walked over and with a warm smile said, "Welcome to our store, how can I help you today?”.
He was polite and asked us questions about why we were looking for speakers, how and where we planned to use them and what type of music we listened to. It was clear he was knowledgeable about speakers and suggested a brand we hadn’t considered.
As the conversation continued, he asked who our favourite artists were and proceeded to play them on all three speakers. His recommendation was by far the best of the three brands and substantially more expensive. His knowledge on the specific brand he recommended was impressive as he explained their technical design, brand history and best way to position the speakers to maximise their sound quality. This made for a great customer experience.
After a few minutes of discussion, we agreed the speakers he recommended definitely ticked all our boxes and were worth the investment, although well over our agreed budget.
Whilst paying for the speakers, I asked him how he knew so much about the particular brand we were about to purchase. He shyly mentioned the brand incentivises them to sell and learn about their products. He continued and mentioned how it has helped him become somewhat of an expert in the brand’s product range, not to mention all the other benefits such as repeat business, referrals and creating a great customer experience through his passion for the brand’s products. He had definitely become a great ambassador for the brand and their strategy was clearly returning a very good ROI.
Enabling resellers with effective sales tools and incentives to drive sales performance in this scenario, did more than generate revenue, it had created a loyalty to the brand from the reseller. Through his knowledge and confidence in selling the brand’s products he was able to influence our decision and redirect our attention away from a competitor, whilst increasing our spend. 8 years later I still believe the brand to be of great quality and recommend it to family and friends. That’s what I call a loyal customer.
Looking back on the experience we never got a discount as it didn’t cross our minds to ask for one.
Research indicates that implementing a program using the principles of ‘Learn & Earn’ and ‘Sell & Earn’ increases business partner loyalty, whilst also increasing reseller sales performance and creating loyal brand advocates.
So do enablement and incentive programs build loyalty with resellers?
Engaging with 5,000 participants from 700 firms across 60 countries, using 8 languages, the logistics cannot be underestimated.
Despite these challenges, LEAP’s results were outstanding.
The LEAP program not only encouraged the former IBM BP channel to migrate and remain loyal to Lenovo, it more than doubled the active user base
Achieved significant revenue for Lenovo – 40% over target.
The number of educational modules completed by LEAP participants was a phenomenal 200% over target.
The most emphatic measure of the program’s success was the sales efficacy of LEAP participants, who sold 7 times more Lenovo products than non-participants.
It does beckon the question, how does your company approach enablement with your resellers and is your incentive strategy driving the right performance behaviours?