Channel partner sales incentive programs tend to offer the same bonuses to the same top-performing salespeople year after year after year. While some of the top prizes might be relatively nice, such as a $500 prepaid gift card or, for a manufacturer, one of their top-of-the-line products, they usually do not accomplish the three things that a well-designed rewards program aims to do – generate increased revenue, engender partner engagement and create customer loyalty.
Follow these three steps to avoid having your incentive program fall into the same trap:
1. Provide aspirational travel experiences
Top channel partner salespeople earn enough money that a gift card may not be terribly aspirational. Additionally, they are highly motivated individuals in the first place and will likely perform at the top of the class, regardless of the reward. The bottom 20 percent of your partners will likely not be able to achieve an award. So the best bet to increase your revenue is to provide an incentive that will motivate the middle 60 percent of your partners to perform better than usual.
The increase in sales revenues, combined with the greater partner and customer loyalty, will more than pay for a reward that your channel partners will value and strive to achieve. Studies show that people prefer programs that hold aspirational value to them.
An interesting, educational or exotic travel experience falls into this category. Not only will your top performers outdo themselves to win one of the coveted slots, but your middle 60 percent of performers will also work that much harder to ensure that they are included as well.
2. Offer engaging corporate conferences
Just because a travel location is fun does not mean that it cannot be engaging and educational as well. Remember, the more well-versed your channel partners are in your product, the more vested they are in your company’s success and the more likely they are to recommend your product to their end users.
The reverse is also true. Just because a meeting is educational does not mean that it cannot be fun and engaging as well. Panel discussions and rapid fire learning present two opportunities for an engaging in a mid-trip meeting. For example, include the top members of the organization as the panel and allow the channel partners to ask pertinent questions about the experts. For a rapid-fire learning session, involve your company’s marketing staff to each present one product and discuss its best features to the audience. Both session methods engage the audience in the learning experience and maintain their interest by including a variety of topics.
Evenings can be utilized for themed events such as dinners or scavenger hunts. While attendees should have a certain amount of downtime, the more time you can spend on educating and engaging your recipients, the more rewarding the conference will be for both the recipients and your company.
3. Give personalized rewards programs
Regardless of how well you design and implement your rewards program, it likely will not motivate 100% of your channel partners. As John Lydgate said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”
Personalized rewards show that you care about your channel partners as individuals, not just as an extension of your company. They appeal to all cultures, ages and interests. As long as the reward is within your budget and corporate culture, why not allow recipients to personalize their rewards?
It may sound complicated to offer personalized rewards, but the better you know your channel partners, the better you are able to tailor their options to rewards that they are likely to choose. The easiest way to find out what they would find most rewarding is to simply ask them. Give them some options, but also allow the opportunity for them to suggest additional potential rewards.
Some individuals are motivated by money and will redeem their rewards for cash or gift cards. Others are motivated by charity and may want to donate the value of their rewards. Some of your channel partners may work with your company because they are loyal to your brand and would like a reward in the form of a discount. Others may want something as simple as a savings vehicle that they can stash away for their children’s education. To learn more about ESGI’s customizable rewards platform to accommodate this type of program, click here.
Choose the correct partner
ESG Incentives has the experience and inventiveness to help you design the rewards program that best suits your company, your budget and your channel partners. We listen to your concerns and tailor a program that is aspirational, engaging and personalized, so that both you and your partners walk away from the experience eager to try it again.