Developing a great channel incentives programme

Incentivising teamsOffering financial rewards, trips abroad and expensive prizes are regular ways to incentivise channel partners to meet, and exceed, sales targets and other related goals.

However, with better management and benchmarking of channel incentive programmes, and in particular better tracking of results, many marketing and HR professionals are starting to reconsider short-term incentive programmes.

Recently research and studies have lead to new insights that are indicating a shift away from short-term programmes towards more long-term strategies that deliver both improved revenue and loyalty for channel partners and the vendor.

They’ve found that short-term incentive programmes may lead to an increase in sales or other performance measures; however, that growth is not sustained once the incentive period comes to an end or the competition launches a better programme.

Developing the best channel incentive programme

When it comes to developing the best channel incentive programme for your needs there are three key elements you need to consider:

  1. Developing incentive goals that are attainable, and also desired by your reseller
  2. Having accurate, real-time reporting, that allows your channel partners to see their progress
  3. Ensuring your resellers’ have the right product and customer care knowledge by using communication and educational incentives

Developing channel partner incentive goals

Success in sales depends on your relationship with your resellers. When you’re developing your channel partner incentive goals not only do you need to consider your own goals but also you need to consider what your channel partners really want. If your goals and your partners’ goals aren’t aligned, then they will engage with another incentive programme that does match their goals.

The research also discovered that there is a benefit to offering performance-based incentives that have tiers of rewards based on incremental performance improvement. These progressive goals motivate people the best because they encourage people to participate in the scheme and to try to reach the next level.

Finally, the goals also need to be attainable. As a result, tier-based incentives combined with attainable goals that also align with the resellers goals with create a lot of engagement and participation in your incentive programme.


Accurate, real-time reporting

Timely, detailed reporting is often cited as a key desire by resellers, and the best channel incentive programmes provide this as standard to their partners. Accurate, real-time reporting allows partners to see where they are and how close they are to achieving their next incentive reward. If they are close to it, then it can give them a push to achieve the next level.

This information can be provided to partners through an online portal, which will help, you maintain the security of your sales data and it can also be used to communicate with your partners and their staff.

Communication and educational incentives

Communication is crucial to the success of your channel incentive programme in two ways, firstly to create engagement in the scheme and secondly to ensure that your channel partners have the right product and customer care knowledge.

Research into channel incentives shows that channel partners want more sales training, more product knowledge, and tips and advice on best practice. Creating interactive portals where partners can learn about new product updates, what best practices other partners are using and customer service initiatives can really help engage them. You can also use the online portal to push your brand messages and special short-term promotions.

Download our whitepaper Sales incentives: but not as we know it

Sales incentives whitepaper

This whitepaper investigates the many areas open for programme managers to explore to enhance their incentive structure, delivers guidance on how to avoid potential pitfalls and advice on scheme structure to ensure engagement of your entire sales force - not just the top performers.

Click here to download


Finally, when setting up your channel incentive programme remember to keep it simple. No-one wants to spend their time filling out forms and jumping through hoops to get their rewards. Get your programme right and your channel partners will actively engage and participate in your programme, giving you a competitive edge over your competition.

John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.
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