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Part 2 of Channel Partner Motivation: Drilling Down Into Effective Motivators

Previously in this series, I drilled down into what sustains channel partner engagement and why it’s valuable. Today, I’m going to cover two types of effective motivators -- financial compensation and social reward.

Relayware Partner Relationship Management

Channel Partner Motivation Pt. 2: Drilling Down Into Effective Motivators

By Simon Taylor

Previously in this series, I drilled down into what sustains channel partner engagement and why it’s valuable. Today, I’m going to cover two types of effective motivators -- financial compensation and social reward.

1) Compensation-based incentives or what some call “financial incentives” have traditionally received the most focus in terms of motivational tactics. With a direct sales team, it’s all about commissions. With a partner organization sales team it’s about commission from their organization, which is incentivized over your competitors by margins, deal registration, discounts and incentive payments/programs (pseudo commission from yourself to either the person or the organization).

2) “Cultural” motivation. If you are asking, “does it really work?” The answer is yes!

Lets take a look at two studies on motivation:

1. “Motivating Salespeople: What Really Works” By Steenburgh and Ahearne, July 2012, Harvard Business Review

2.  “How to Motivate Your Sales Force to Great Performance” By Richard J. Bakosh, September 2007, Accenture

These two studies are great places for you to start if you’re curious to take a deeper dive into motivation of sales professionals. 

The first study, which applies equally to indirect channel partners as it does to direct sales people, finds that compensation needs an overhaul and that all participants would be better served if different parts of the compensation strategy were modified depending on the performance of a partner (or salesperson). 

Further, Steenburgh and Ahearne found that

  • “B” level performers is typically the largest group
  • They’re often ignored in favor of “A” players or stars
  • There’s less communication with this group
  • There’s less consideration for promotion/recognition with this group
A, B & C Partners

 

For example, you don’t just pay your platinum partners more and your bronze partners less. Research shows that you should remove earning limits for the top performers and pay the bottom performers more frequently.  But what about the middle or core performers? 

Consider offering 3 sales targets to middle performers: 

  1. A sales target achievable by all members in the group
  2. A target that is achievable only by some
  3. A target only achievable by the top performers within this middle range

The second study relies heavily on the findings of Abraham Maslow. He found that humans have many layers of motivation and that there’s a sequential progression through those layers. Specifically, Maslow established that

1.  People are motivated to satisfy the lowest level of unmet need

2.  A satisfied need CANNOT serve as a source of motivation.

Channel Pyramid

There’s also been a new paradigm shift since Maslow’s research. Today, you have to take into account social, behavioral and technological factors.

The best programs offers motivators that address all levels of the pyramid and take partners on a journey from bottom to top.  This enables partners at any stage to engage in activities that recognizes their specific highest-level unmet need. 

The expectations of partners have changed when it comes to engagement and experiences. Everyone wants to be taken on a journey. We all want to know where we stand amongst our peers. We want to see our progress and have something to show for it - instantly.  This is where gameification comes in, which I will cover that in the next post.

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