The rise of B2B channel marketing and channel incentive programmes

This post is sponsored by Edenred.

Partner relationship management, better known as PRM, shapes a robust ecosystem which is rapidly evolving as more B2B organisations recognise that to run effective, scalable and sustainable channel engagements, they need fully systematised solutions. Having the right technology and solutions is essential to having an effective PRM engagement that is measurable, insightful and impactful.

The need for a systematised PRM

Today, many organisations manage channel marketing and channel incentive programmes using spreadsheets and manual processes. It consumes a significant amount of time and resources to manage, resulting in delays (in sales data collection and validation; calculating and administrating channel incentives), all of which contribute to channel dissatisfaction and potential loss of business opportunities.

Understanding the B2B channel partner ecosystem

A channel partner ecosystem consists of any combination of distributors, dealers, resellers, retailers, agents or contractors. The ecosystem may further extend to installers, mechanics or plumbers depending on the industry. The entities have a commercial interest and form a bridge between the brand and the end-customers or end-users.

Additionally, these could be organisations of various nature and may further have formal or informal employees engaged in the ecosystem to support the functioning of the ecosystem, for example, sales staff, pre-sales and post-sales staff, technicians/engineers, administrators or even store operation staff of various profiles.

Most B2B companies have channel programmes and PRM systems of some sort, even though those could be ad-hoc tools, spreadsheets, or email solutions. PRM is classically defined as “a set of processes, programmes and technologies to enable, engage, manage and motivate the channel partners in a B2B ecosystem as part of the organisation’s strategic goal to reach its end-customers or end-users”.

Challenges of a partner relationship management programme

However, PRM is much more than the mere definitions we come across. An effective PRM programme and technologies will help tackle multiple challenges faced by channel marketers and truly function as key growth drivers for organisations. To list a few common challenges faced across industry and markets in Asia Pacific are:

  • Changing channel partner behaviour, business models and expectations.
  • Operational inefficiency due to manual processes, redundant or inaccurate data.
  • Lack of visibility due to disparate technologies – challenges in scalability and integration.
  • Lack of tools to offer and manage strong programme value propositions when needed.
  • Lack of tools to engage and measure channel partner motivation.
  • Difficulty in programme measurement, insights and learnings.
  • Ineffective ROI due to lack of tools and visibility.

The transformation of tools and processes

Today’s PRM solutions cover a much broader scope: leveraging digital, mobile, social technologies and integrated with the core enterprise solutions to provide a single view of partner interactions, thus helping marketers decide and act faster to market demands.

With a new generation of unified technology and solutions, PRM programmes can be rather easily rolled out across markets.

Tightly coupled with data analytics and business intelligence tools, PRM solutions deliver programme/performance management, content and marketing management, communications and support management to enable channel marketers to engage partners seamlessly across markets.

With the ability to manage infrastructure centrally in the cloud, tools to localise programme rules and content per market as and when needed, channel marketers now have the power to drive channel engagements with sophisticated personalisation, segmentation and tier-based mechanisms.

A holistic, digitalised O2O PRM programme

It is also important for channel programmes to operate in an auditable, transparent and secure environment to ensure compliance to local and global standards as it involves administering channel incentives, rebates or rewards based on performance. Therefore, effective planning, execution, and management of channel marketing programmes is required to ensure success for all stakeholders.

Thankfully, today’s channel marketers can access regional/global service providers, who can plan, design and launch channel marketing and incentive programmes end-to-end.

This will allow channel marketers to focus on their core business, creating and experimenting with offers and value propositions appropriate for their partner ecosystems and measuring their effectiveness. In the process, they will be empowered to make better business decisions for their organisations while creating better revenue and ROI for their brands.

To know more about how Edenred can assist you to plan, design and launch your own channel programme, click here.

This writer is JB Ray, COO, SEA, marketing services, Edenred.