Loyalty Beyond Discounts: How Manufacturers Can Engage Channel Partners
Manufacturers used to rely on two basic tools to create lifelong relationships with partners: face-to-face meetings and volume discounts to seal the deal. Over time, incentives like volume discounts became pure transactional moments — far from the glue of long-term relationships. At the same time, in-person meetings were already getting harder to come by due to the gradual shift to digital. The pandemic further accelerated the need to engage channel partners through digital channels and put in-person interactions on hold.
Manufacturers need to reimagine their relationships by finding new ways to connect and strengthen partner channels. This involves catering to evolving expectations and values. It takes the kinds of engaging incentives and special rewards that show a deep understanding of their partners’ businesses and a commitment to their success. This is the only way to capture wallet and mindshare.
How has the loyalty game changed?
The consumer experience is influencing expectations in B2B relationships. Everyone has grown accustomed to the level of service they enjoy with Amazon, Uber, or DoorDash — and the loyalty programs that keep them coming back to their favorite brands. As B2B expectations become more aligned with that of consumers for convenience and personalization, manufacturers need to take note. In manufacturing, this translates to active engagement and rewards that generate real value for your partner’s business.
This requires a shift from product-centric to customer-centric sales and marketing. When you do this, loyalty becomes the direct result of showing partners that you understand their business and want them to succeed. Cost becomes secondary (within reason, of course).
That’s why manufacturers need to expand incentives beyond volume or renewal discounts in ways that show they know how to support their partners’ businesses. This takes a complete view of data.
Most manufacturers, however, have historically grappled with siloed data from disparate, legacy systems. As a result, transactions were the only way to reward partners for their loyalty — without really knowing if discounts moved the needle. Without a complete view, they cannot properly target, reward high-value partners, or see the return on investment (ROI) of a loyalty program. It’s time to course correct.
Transforming loyalty management
Transactional engagement → Active engagement across the partner journey
Static rewards → Rewards that generate value for your partners and your business
Wallet share → Mindshare
Partner retention → Partner engagement and advocacy
What goes into a successful manufacturing loyalty program?
Think beyond discounts
Drive product adoption and awareness
Reward partners with targeted incentives
Offer rewards based on engagements like completing onboarding, training, or certifications that help to improve partner performance (and by extension, your business performance). This helps to expand mindshare with your partners through more consistent, mutually beneficial interactions. Boost advocacy by capturing channel partner mindshare, and even reward them for referrals.
Manufacturers that continuously improve channel partner engagements and expand reach like this are able to build brand advocacy, grow sales, and expand the product portfolio that their partners carry. At the same time, partners are more inclined to refer your business to others, which helps you to build up your network.
How to build your loyalty programs
Solutions like Salesforce Loyalty Management help manufacturers engage partners beyond transactions with a flexible software as a service (SaaS) model. Built on the Salesforce platform, manufacturers can connect Loyalty Management with their sales data to better understand the efficacy of their loyalty programs and the impact on channel sales. APIs connect data across customer data platforms (CDP), third-party data sources, and other systems of record for a complete view of partners, distributors, and even end-consumers (for manufacturers who sell direct-to-consumer).
Loyalty data is readily available to sales reps and service teams so that they can better navigate their partner relationships. With the most up-to-date information and a complete view of the partner, you can take the following steps to build personalized, experiential programs that capture mindshare:
Capture mindshare to build lifetime value
Trusted, long-term relationships have never been more important. Loyalty in manufacturing goes well beyond transactions to include the tailored benefits and engaging rewards that make partners feel valued and happy to work with you. And their success benefits your business.
With a foundational data and loyalty strategy, manufacturers can design loyalty programs that capture both wallet and mindshare. To take your next steps, learn more about Salesforce Loyalty Management.
Maximize Your Partner Engagement
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