Re-launching a channel incentive program for a leading multinational IT Vendor

The Challenge

The way to market for this vendor in this competitive industry is via a reseller sales channel. An industry where indirect sales teams sell products from multiple vendors. Our client is one of these vendors. This cluttered market means it is critical that our client find avenues to successfully communicate with hundreds of local sales teams, and that resellers understand and buy in to the new brand to promote and sell their products over and above competitors. It is a relationship channel, where top of mind equals success for vendors trying to influence these indirect sales teams.

The IT industry has a long history of using incentives and promotions to drive reseller sales teams to move products and our client needed a program under the new brand to engage and motivate resellers in order to achieve their corporate sales objectives.

Return on Investment

Following the business directional change, this multinational IT vendor had to ensure the new channel incentive program investment would target those resellers who would provide the most potential and financial impact, in turn driving a positive ROI result. The program structure would have to reward the best performing individuals and reseller partners whilst focusing on future growth, not just on current performance.

Attractive Rewards

In their previous reward program, participants were only rewarded with merchandise rewards. To make a mark with the new program, the reward on offer needed to ‘Wow’ both individual salespeople and reseller management teams. The same-same wouldn’t be accepted, the brand was looking-for an offer that inspired and drew attention in our client’s direction. Furthermore, as this was a trans-Tasman reseller market, the program and its reward offering must be available both in Australia and New Zealand.

Loyalty to the Brand

212F’s challenge was to develop a program that would take our client’s new brand to the number one position in the IT sector, ensuring their partners were selling their products ‘first and always’. By selling their products, the incentive program must reward participants emotionally and financially by getting something back for their hard work, and just as importantly, recognised for their loyalty to the brand.

The Solutions

Due to the disruption of how resellers would now engage with the new brand, the rewards program had to have its own visual identity, as well as continuing to enforce the new brand. The vendor needed to set themselves apart, to define their brand in a way that conjured up emotions of lifestyle, rewards, and freedom. The offer also needed to cut through both the Australia and New Zealand markets.

212F created a ground-breaking and engaging program that encompassed the new values of the company. Not only did 212F deliver a program with positive ROI results, it also communicated the brand as a warm, engaging lifestyle brand. The innovative channel program, with creative rewards and once in a lifetime travel experiences for high performers, built quality and profitable relationships with business partners of all sizes.

Budget Management

SOLUTION: EFFECTIVE REWARD SYSTEM

212F developed a points structure that allowed them to effectively identify and reward all sales made by the reseller channel. The channel was tiered, so business partners were engaged and motivated in their own way, creating the hurdle effect where targets and rewards were achievable but at a stretch. This effective tiering strategy not only ensured sales teams but ensured their products were more often ‘first and always’ recommended.

A focused view on their budget was critical in all channel reward programs. The new point structure enabled them to pinpoint areas for growth and assisted 212F to utilise the budget in focal areas which strongly promoted their new lifestyle brand. Incentive trips were strategically added to the program to build relationships between internal teams and reseller teams. These trips were redeemed for points, meaning relationship development activity came out of the program budget, not a separate accounting line.

Attractive Rewards

SOLUTION: WOW FACTOR

The rewards program shifted from simple, low emotion cash-based incentives and introduced highly emotional and memorable lifestyle experiences and Visa gift cards. These and the addition of launching quarterly and annual travel incentive trips into the offering drew immediate attention from the channel.

There were rewards that recognised everyday effort and brand participation, as well as status and aspirational incentive trips that would have the new brand stand apart from their competitors and sales team members stand apart from their peers.

212F developed a tiered solution to create a program with “Wow Factor” that ticked all the boxes:

• Rewards Catalogue (Visa Prepaid Cards)
• Quarterly Promotions (Melbourne Cup, Grand Prix, Boom Rock)
• Top Achievers Incentive Trip (Mardi Gras in New Orleans)

Overall, the new structure of the program captivated resellers and promoted this IT vendor as an experience and lifestyle brand that values partner relationships. The client and 212F succeeded in developing a newly aligned brand with attractive rewards that drove performance and created a solid market proposition.

Technology Optimisation

SOLUTION: FRONT OF MIND

The rewards program was built within the 212F iChange technology platform. The business logic (backend) layer, which manages complex sales data and calculates multiple point attributes meets a highly engaging, mobile responsive front end that delivers a destination portal for multiple stakeholders. As a result, participation and engagement levels in the program were exceptionally high.

Strategic and tactical communications, delivered through 212F’s communications platform, integrated with iChange, was identified as being one of the key drivers of this high program engagement. A program is only as good as how well it is communicated and 212F ensured that the communication strategy, tone of voice, and visual identity is a high priority for clients such as this multinational IT vendor.

The marketing plan set by 212F utilised a variety of platforms such as LinkedIn, mobile messaging, and other tools to immerse participants in the brand, the program, and its rewards mechanisms. Other strategies such as the rewards program brand refresh, a launch video, and collateral were also used. All combined to present the program in an aspirational, motivating way that drove participation, resulting in more partners selling more of our client products.

The Outcome

After three years of rewarding its partners with incentive experiences that assist in driving sales and increasing market share, the rewards program is one of the most innovative and successful programs in the IT industry and a great achievement for 212F.

Given the challenge of developing a reseller incentive program in an industry that was only just recognising the entrance of this new brand into the industry, the rewards program delivered on its founding objectives, as well as validating the overall strategy of needing a reseller program to drive reseller acceptance and behaviour. Objectives met and resulting outcomes included:

OBJECTIVES MET AND RESULTING OUTCOMES INCLUDED:
• The program pulled new partners to the brand, reducing
the acquisition cost of new partner signup
• Increased market share in the ICT industry
• Increase of customer loyalty and engagement through sales,
conference and incentive trips
• With over $100 million of product sales claimed through the
program and a total program cost of $370K including rewards
a significant ROI of 272:1 was achieved.
• Partner involvement and progression: In the FY2016 program,
50% of gold partners moved up to platinum partner
• Strengthened relationships between the IT vendor, distributors
and partners
• Through conferences and luxury travel incentive trips, partners
strive to get on these unique experiences, especially for the
partners who have been part of these unforgettable trips. They
would want to continually achieve the sales target to remain
as top achievers

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