Stop Bribing Your Partners with MDF

The status quo is no more. We are in a state of revolution regarding partner programs, pivoting away from transactional and incentive-led to a new era of loyalty and trust. Traditional programs are struggling to find and stay relevant. The time is now to reimagine programs, embrace new personas and breathe loyalty and trust into our partner relationships. If you are still stuck on bribing your partners with Marketing Development Funds (MDF), we are here to tell you, there is a better way!

MDF and other like investments are guaranteed to be around for the foreseeable future – but there will be a pivot. We will start to see MDF as a mutual investment that the vendor and partner make together. This investment could be anything that makes sense – like a marketing program to drive leads – but it could also be an external certification that the partner needs to serve your mutual customers. The investments could range from digital marketing classes, sales methodology training, or a funded headcount for a partner to expand into a new area.

We have found programmatic MDF – whether accrued or granted – and are using funds to run marketing programs that don’t take the end user in mind, provides zero value. According to Jay McBain, Forrester Analyst, customers are looking for hyper-specialized partners and one of the 35M potential customer solutions that could be offered. There is no off the shelf program that could possibly address that. The better option is to consider investments that are focused on the end user and offer a return on the investment with mutual benefits. This type of paradigm shift breeds loyalty and trust.

The concept customer lifetime value has been around for a long time and smart businesses use this metric to measure loyalty and understand a customer’s worth to a business. It is important to ask yourself why you are loyal and if the products and services you are providing live up to expectations and deserve the same loyalty in return.

Partner-Centric-Management is the foundation partner relationships are built on, which includes, cooperation, mutual success, trust, and loyalty. We know from research that customer trends dictate the buying decisions to solve a business outcome. This makes it even more important that the vendor and partner work together to provide solutions within a trusted, mutually beneficial relationship, that also builds loyalty.

Consider what the specific characteristics you would want in a long-term partner. Determine what makes the perfect partner for your organization. Once you narrow down these traits, you can figure out how you will engage with the perfect partners. A long-term relationship will require intent to provide an excellent partner experience, with collaboration and mutual benefit – and an excellent PRM solution.

As for MDF, you’ll begin to think about it in terms of investing in mutual priorities with ROI.

This content was originally presented by Jessica Baker, Chief Program Officer at Achieve Unite, as part of a Lightning Round presentation on the “Top 9 Things Channel Chiefs Must Do in 2018 to Transcend the Performance of Their Channel.” To watch the entire presentation featuring a host of top channel strategists, CLICK HERE.

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