Vendors today recognize the importance of a well-executed partner incentive program. They also understand that it’s not just the type of incentive that’s important, but indeed how it is delivered, on an ongoing basis. For this, it is important to recognize the internal stakeholders: The Partner Account Managers. This is because PAMs play a huge part in the execution of any incentive program. Consequently, one of the big questions for vendors is: how to ensure incentive program buy-in from internal stakeholders?
That was one of the topics discussed during a recent Channel Mechanics Webinar, ‘Is your Partner Incentive Program worth the Incentive?’. During the webinar, Don Lopes, Director of Global Partner Programs at Juniper Networks and Laura Evans, Senior Global Program Manager with Poly addressed how to ensure buy-in from account managers and internal teams to help spread incentive messaging across the wider community.
Lopes said that as a company, Juniper Networks has spent a great deal of time considering how best to raise awareness around its incentive programs.
“You can no longer send an email with a PowerPoint that says, ‘here’s your incentives for the year’. Partner account managers are being asked to do so many things. They have to manage so many different situations with their customers and their deals. As such, we need to get more innovative with new ways to build awareness,” he explained.
Lopes said it is important to get everyone – partners and account managers – “rowing in the same direction. Along with focusing on the same things”. One way of achieving this is by tailoring the account managers’ comp plans. This makes it easier to encourage behaviours that the vendor is looking to drive.
Ultimately, said Lopez, vendors want to create an “Amazon-like experience“. This enables the vendor’s internal teams to be proactive. Alerting them to what’s going on with a partner’s incentives, and providing them with KPIs from which to enable them to initiate conversations with the partner.
However, timing is everything. As a vendor you don’t want this conversation to be after the end of a quarter. This would result in partner frustration upon discovering they missed a target by some small amount.
“We want it to come a week beforehand. That way they can look at their pipeline of registered deals and say, ‘how do we incentivize one or two, to build more profitability on the backend?’. The more we can put that in front of PAMs, and partners, in an easy way will drive results,” said Lopes.
From Partner Account Manager to Trusted Advisor
Poly’s Evans is also looking at new ways to make information about incentives transparent and easy to consume for both internal stakeholders and partners.
“We work with our internal teams, so that instead of sending out PowerPoints, we’re leveraging more short videos. Things that they can use to be able to quickly understand what is available to them. Also, they can share those videos with their accounts. This helps to promote the different programs that are available to them,” she said.
Evans said the company is also looking to implement more tools to ensure its own account managers are not being tied up in admin. “Making sure that we give them visibility of where their accounts are in the incentives program, changes the conversation”.
“They’re really the trusted advisor for us into those accounts and making sure that they’re working with partners to grow sales. They make sure that the partners are getting all the information as to how they can leverage our programs to bring more dollars back into them. [This includes] things that they can do early before the quarter closes so that they’re not missing a goal.”
Most importantly, vendors need to regard account managers as invaluable to the execution of a successful incentive program.
Said Evans: “Our internal sellers are just as much of a customer. We need to make sure that they have the tools, as much as our partners, to create promotions to grow and amplify our sales.”