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Innovation / 12.12.17

Designing a Successful Channel Incentive Program

By Chris Largent

Where, when, howWhen it comes to navigating the channel, you need partners you count on to help you move your products effectively and efficiently.

But how do you design and implement an incentive program to get them to buy in? It’s all a matter of asking the right questions.

Why do I need a Channel Incentive Program?

Successfully implemented and managed, a Channel Incentive Program can help to strengthen your channel partner relationships to help move your products more effectively. A program can also identify and target the managers and salespeople who are the most valuable points of influence in your channel giving you increased channel-wide engagement to increase efficiency at all points.

Additionally, an online program gives you the ability to measure your channel’s mindshare, build channel unity with the integration of an overarching partner portal, survey your channel partners to gain valuable insight into their operations, and track trends with analytics to measure successful endeavors and/or products.

Ultimately, a Channel Incentive Program can supply you with the simplest necessity of all: another reason for your partners to do more business with you.

How do I choose the right Channel Incentive Program?

When choosing a program to implement, you must have a clear understanding of a few things. A deep dive into your business and how you manage your channel network is paramount as you research you Channel Incentive Program.

First, you need a clear understanding of your sales objectives and goals. What are the measurable results you are looking to achieve? Is it incremental sales? Or, is it the drive of one or two products or product lines? Second, you must understand your audience. Who are you looking to have meet your objectives is it your Manufacturer Sales Reps, VARs, Distributors, Wholesalers, or someone else?

Finally, pay attention to your budget. How much are you willing to put into this initiative? Will the budget for the program be open ended or fixed?

How does a Channel Incentive Program work?

Although there are many ways to go about initiating a program, here are six steps that can help you understand the process.

Step 1: Identify and target key performance indicators (KPIs) in your channel using a steps-to-the-sale approach. What behaviors do you want to reward for?

Step 2: Create an incentive strategy that rewards for reaching defined KPIs. A common strategy for this step is setting a goal and paying back points retroactively once the goal is hit.

Step 3: Communicate regularly and with consistent messaging. This is extremely important. Without announcing your new program, your potential participants may not even know it exists. Make sure that you have a system in place for self-promotion.

Step 4: Measure progress and regularly update participants on their status. This is another important communication tactic that can keep your participants engaged, selling, and buying.

Step 5: Every project needs an analysis step. Analyze results and modify the program on an on-going basis to ensure continued engagement and success.

Step 6: Reward goal achievers/overachievers and keep your go-to-market strategy flowing.

Do I need to keep my Channel Incentive Program engaging?

Well, yes, of course! Without engagement processes in place, you’re not going to entice anyone to go to market with you, will you? An engagement and enablement strategy for your Channel Incentive program can…

  • Enhance productivity and efficiency
  • Increase brand engagement
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition
  • Implement company-focused learning initiatives

Now that your questions have been answered, go forth and enact your best Channel Incentive Program!

Need some real-life proof? One manufacturer of plumbing and HVAC supplies was able to send their participants on a group trip to Maui, Hawaii for hitting their incremental sales goals. Using in-depth progress-to-goal reminders and exciting print pieces, this company gathered 138 top participants for the trip of a life-time. And the best part? The end results of the program showed a net increase in sales of $8.4 million and an ROI of 334%.

Chris Largent is Content Manager for HMI Performance Incentives, Norwood, Massachusetts, USA

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