One of the most tried and tested methods for driving a more positive sales outcome from an organisation is to offer some form of incentive to people to take the ‘action’ the company requires. In the channel, this has become one way to differentiate oneself from the competition, since offering something in return for the sale puts your business in a better position than the company that does not.
Traci Maynard, Microsoft Executive at Axiz, says that research firm Forrester has demonstrated that the automation of incentives helps to remove the ‘friction’ in the partner’s sales process and to streamline the lead to revenue processes.
“If one looks at the 2017 study from the Incentive Federation, which measured the expenditure of US businesses using non-cash rewards for employees, customers and partners, overall incidences of channel reward programmes increased by some 57% in just three years,” she said.
“With figures like this, it makes me curious as to exactly what a version of this study would look like for the South African channel.
“The study summarised that ‘award points, gifts cards, incentive travel and merchandise’ are the most commonly used tools for firms seeking to provide reward and recognition to employees, sales teams, channel partners and customers.”
Maynard points out, however, that Digital Transformation is changing vendors’ approaches to such inducements. She explains that they all inevitably want to see a return on their investment in terms of a particular incentive – for example, a certain amount of sales were made prior to the incentive, while following it, sales doubled or tripled. The difficulty is that while this is easy in a physical world with physical goods, how are such incentive schemes measured in the world of the cloud?
“Understanding that the world itself is different, the incentives from Microsoft for its cloud offerings, via programmes such as Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), are also designed to drive a very different behaviour,” said Maynard.
“What the vendor does is it encourages sales behaviour by incentivising partners for new customers added – in other words, end-customers – and Microsoft then sets a range of qualifying seats, such as 25 to 99, 100 to 299, and 300 plus seats.
“Essentially, the incentives programme encourages partners to develop new ways of marketing their Microsoft offerings, such as through conference attendance, training programmes and new package offers. The beauty is that if you are a CSP partner actively participating as a reseller, you are eligible for the Microsoft Partner Incentives programme, and upon joining will be eligible for rebate and co-op earnings.”
Maynard explains that Microsoft partners who align sales motions with certain strategic priorities will see increased earning potential through the CSP Incentive Programme, Online Services Usage Incentive for Microsoft 365 Programme and Azure Incentive Programme.
The specific priorities outlined include adding new customers, selling the value of premium workloads, migrating Microsoft Azure to the Modern Commerce platform and driving usage and consumption of online services.
“A key part of Microsoft’s focus is to empower people and organisations across the world to achieve more and focus on these four priorities, as each of them are central to the partner investment and incentives programme’s core objective,” said Maynard.
“The aim is to not only help you provide the level of service your customers expect, but to directly connect that level of service to the financial incentives that can help your business grow. These partner incentives power the technical and workplace innovations needed to expand your business and shape your customers’ Digital Transformation journeys.
“The programmes also cover a wide spectrum of business objectives, so whether you are driving consumption or bringing new customers into the fold, there are options tailored to support your efforts and reward your success.”