Another one of the gazillion thoughts ping-ponging around in my head recently (again, thanks to the Channel Focus presentations at the end of April in San Diego) was about the incentive programs of the future.
If the Channel of the future is going to predominantly have a very different business model that it does now (traditional VAR vs. trusted advisor of cloud services), shouldn’t it also be motivated and incentivized in a different way?
I had an epiphany that if the new breed of ‘born in the cloud’ services aggregators don’t care about an extra point on such-and-such deal, then what do they care about? I suspect it’s more about power and authority than money. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always about money on some level, but like with all things cloudy, it’s more about the relationships, the people, and the business models.
This got me thinking… “REFERRAL!”my brain was yelling. Perhaps referral, or influence considerations, are going to be a lot more meaningful to the MSP/cloud aggregators of the new Channel. Everyone wants to know the magic formula for rewarding influence or referrals. Some clients tie it to deal registration, but I think that’s too old school for the cloud kids. The new breed of advisor wants to be a Gladwellian ‘connector,’ or hub of influence.
There will be practical considerations though – how will the new breed be linked in some systematized way to the vendors they steer customers towards? This is where the referral model becomes vital. Inbound lead/referral management MUST be linked to the influencer in the partner portal, or vendor’s ERP system, for service/support at the very least. And this will require the end customer to identify their technology Sherpa to the vendor. Then really interesting data will start to emerge, such as: Who are your biggest influencers? How can you drive more evangelists? How much is their recommendation of your product/service worth (in hard cash)? How frequently does their sphere of influence grow? Only the future knows…
Think about how you calculate influence or referrals today – what will the future hold for you?
Meg Bingley, Senior Consultant with CCI
After getting her start in media with a B2B marketing agency, Meg developed her expertise in marketing by creating, selling, and executing integrated marketing programs for Microsoft, HP, Seibel, Business Objects, Juniper Networks, Trend Micro, Symantec, and their respective marketing agencies for UBM (formerly CMP Media). Her experience with marketing communications for a worldwide manufacturer provides her with the global perspective needed in our channel world. Meg has been with CCI and our clients in the channel for three years, and has successfully managed the launch of several new and existing client sites to support various marketing and sales incentive programs. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, son, and small menagerie of cats and dogs.