How to Show Your Channel Partners Some Love

Put the partner back in channel partnership with smarter engagement.

Ever hear of the 80/20 rule? It applies to a lot of scenarios, but as a distributor, dealer, or manufacturer, it particularly rings true for you: in short, you get up to 80% of your business from 20% of your customers and partners. So, whether you realize it or not, loyalty is a huge part of your business. Even so, unlike the B2C world with its big networks and even bigger budgets, you can’t afford to lose a few thousand loyal followers.

You want to keep your best customers while attracting new ones. So, to graduate from “just another loyalty program” to “I’ve gotta get in on this!,” you just have to keep your channels engaged.

Uhm. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR CHANNELS ENGAGED?

Well, let’s make sure we’re on the same page with what we’re calling “engagement.” It’s encouraging interaction and dialogue while delivering value and building trust.

It’s obviously worth it for you to communicate with your customers and partners, but flip that equation around: what’s in it for them to engage with you?

channel partnership

For your channel/loyalty program, you need to implement a communication and engagement strategy to nurture your most valuable customers and partners. So, much like being in a long-term romantic relationship, you’ve got to show them the love.

DEFINE YOUR 20%: Determining who your VIPs are is as easy as cracking open the books – who’s driving the most business for you, and what have you done to recognize them so far?

PLAY YOUR GREATEST HITS: Start by reminding your VIPs why they fell in love with you in the first place. You’ve built trusted relationships, so celebrate the highlights and look towards the new ones you’ll create together – think about the Facebook “Friend-a-versary” posts. How did the relationship begin? When did you know it was going to last? And how do you plan to keep the partnership going?

KEEP TALKING: Good communication builds trust, so don’t let the lines of communication go silent. Keep your customers informed, keep your partners in the loop, and develop a content and contact schedule that keeps you top of mind. And it doesn’t just have to be industry news – talk about the value you deliver, or keep it fun with contests or other interactive incentives to ensure that it’s two-way communication. And, be sure to provide as much detail as possible about all current incentives and programs to ensure that you maintain engagement and excitement – and lessen the likelihood of confusion!

MAKE IT PERSONAL AND SPECIAL: Don’t go for the generic. Let your top customers and partners know how much you know them, and how much they mean to you. Put them in an exclusive VIP club with special customized perks, bonuses and exclusive offers that meet their specific needs. Think about annual luxury travel rewards for VIP status customers. Make a big deal of your shared anniversaries by piling on even more of the good stuff. It’s all about being thoughtful and deliberate. Your goal is to “wow” them – especially with how well you know them and their goals. Then, you can use the benefits of your program to raise your b-level partners to VIP status.

You don’t want to lose any part of that critical 20%. So, for your best customers, your program must play off your shared history, offer real value, and deliver relevance at every turn. And since you’ve built strong relationships, it should be easy to demonstrate to them that the loyalty goes both ways. That’s the kind of love that no customer can turn their back on.


Motivation Excellence can help. If you’d like to learn more about taking your channel program from “whatever” to “wow,” contact us today.

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