Am I Recognizing and Incenting the Appropriate Partner Behaviors?

Motivating indirect sales channels has always been difficult. After all, your channel partners are not your employees, and, as a result, they aren’t easily influenced by your wants and needs. What’s more, your channel partners are inundated with new products, programs and news from their other suppliers — making it more difficult for you to earn the attention you might deserve. To help drive mindshare and channel engagement, vendors offer a variety of incentive program, including: SPIFs, MDF and Co-op, deal registration incentives, quarterly rebates and more. Many vendors design these programs to “meet the competition.”

These programs are often ill-conceived and without a strong strategic foundation. As a result, poor ROI is often associated with such programs, and they are dismissed as the cost of doing business. To drive success, how you implement your program is just as important as your strategy. Properly designed and executed, your incentive program should help improve channel loyalty and provide a competitive advantage. Take these three actions to help ensure your incentive programs deliver:

  1. Identify which types of behaviors drive your business Start by making a list of the key behaviors practiced by your most successful channel partners. Then add the key behaviors your channel partners need to achieve your go-to-market objectives, including training or improving pipeline visibility through deal registration and more.

  2. Introduce incentive engineering to your channel program Most channel incentive programs focus on post-sales rewards in the form of SPIF programs (targeting sales personnel) or rebates (rewarding channel partner companies for attaining sales goals). Ideally, your incentive strategy should have the flexibility to drive long-term incremental performance while providing levers you can use to adapt to business challenges as they arise. Expand the focus of your incentive strategy beyond sales. Consider rewarding your channel for performing the behaviors that generate mutual success.

  3. Implement both individual and headquarter rewards and rebates Rewards are no longer just for sales personnel. Rewards are issued for behaviors performed by other roles in a reseller organization, including advertising and marketing, program administrators, SEs and more. As you focus on both pre-sales and post-sales incentives, remember that recipients can be individuals or the company itself. Using the different program types — individual rewards and channel rebates — you can build an effective and affordable incentive program.

This post by Daniel Hawtof, Vice President Business Development and Channel Solutions, Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, was recently published in our new eBook, The Top 10 Things Making Channel Chiefs into Insomniacs, and What to do About It. In creating this guide for Channel Chiefs, we tapped our network of top channel strategists to provide thoughtful, meaty, practical advice on Chiefs' key questions about the market today. Click here to down full eBook for recommendations that will help you transform your channel operations, accelerate your indirect sales — and sleep peacefully.

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