What comes to mind when you think of true loyalty–perhaps a mental collage of best friends, family, your wedding day, a wagging tail, maybe a favorite coffee shop or boutique? Just as loyalty among individuals and things creates stronger relationships and more satisfying life experiences, channel partner loyalty greatly influences both business growth and the pace at which that growth proceeds.

The more you invest in your channel partners and their success, the more effectively they can sell your product and win sales. Here are a couple points to keep in mind when attempting to create a long-term relationship with your partners according to CBS Moneywatch:

1) Invest

Just as you hope to decrease your cost of sales via leveraging channel partner resources, your partners want to make a profit through selling your product in addition to decreasing their sales cost. There has to be some happy medium. By investing resources in training, marketing and support, a more successful partnership can be born and both parties satisfied.

2) Support

There’s no doubt about it, channel partners need constant technical support. Having a professional, reliable, and efficient support team speaks volume for the credibility of your business and ultimately leads to increased productivity, improving profitability.

3) Communicate

And don’t just communicate- communicate creatively. With the fast pace of business today, sometimes it’s difficult to stay in the loop. In order to combat the changing times, you will need to think of innovative and effective ways to stay in touch with your channel-informing them of what’s going on within your company, installed base, etc. The more communication, the better.

4) Reward

Have you ever considered setting up a Sales Incentive Program? Here’s where the WIFM (What’s in it for Me) factor can be applied. An added perk to selling your products may be the extra motivational factor needed to spike sales. Consider a points based system that gives partners the choice between cash and non-cash rewards- promoting a continuous atmosphere of engagement and recognition.

5) Measure

It’s your responsibility to understand how a partner is or is not performing. By keeping a close eye on sales goals and achieved results you will be able to understand what is working and what’s not. ROI should be an important factor to consider.

Think of your business as a fantastic brew of coffee. Without your partners putting you in a pretty cup, facing it in the right direction, telling everyone to try you, and mixing things up every now and then with a splash of cinnamon or cream, you’ll just go stagnant. Ultimately, your partners influence your customer’s buying decisions. From a customer’s perspective, most of the time they only see a product being sold from a  partner, no vendor attached. Your channel partners are physical extensions of not only your company, but also your ultimate success, so remember when it comes to loyalty, think long-term!

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