In part 1 of this series, we discussed the first set of intriguing qualities in a successful channel partner incentive program. Your business’s channel partner incentive program should be fast, communicative, engaging and exciting, customized and vendor-supported. But it shouldn’t stop there—it also needs to be the following:
To be truly useful, your channel partner program needs to be comprehensive and profitable for all parties. This means that it’s important not just to have incentives, but your program also needs to include training, lead organization and communication.
Your business, your vendors and their partners all want the partnership to be profitable, so incorporating training and education for the vendor and their partners can lead to success for everyone. A knowledgeable sales staff will project a stronger impression on other vendors and clients. Additionally, the ability to organize leads and prevent redundancy among partners will help to circumvent potential problems and maximize time.
If your partners are producing reports and data and communicating that information with your business, you can help them to maximize their time spent on sales. For example, average customers can be offered a bonus on high-margin products.
Ensure that your plan for your incentive program is easily measurable and trackable before you even launch it to your vendor partners. If you have a specific target laid out, such as increasing sales by 15 percent, then setting goals that can be easily identified and tracked is paramount to the success of the program.
Each action that can be taken needs to have a point value, and each data point should be easily trackable by not only you but also by the vendors themselves. Goals and targets should be quickly and continuously identifiable by everyone in the program.
Every stakeholder within the partnership should understand what the goals of the program are, from the top of your company to the partners themselves. Additionally, what role the partners are playing needs to be measurable – whether that’s increasing sales or engagement for a new product launch.
Keep the rules simple and the information clear when you are presenting your channel partner incentive program. Have clear start and end dates that are published beforehand so that your channel partners know the amount of time that they have to achieve their sales goals. Clear rewards, levels and objectives should be published before the program even begins.
Many sales incentive programs last for six to eight weeks, so as the deadline to begin approaches, make sure you are leveraging your partner data to fine-tune the campaign and monitor market conditions. While the incentive drive is running, use that data (and continue to monitor progress!) to ensure that you can make informed decisions about needed adjustments. That way, your partner engagement will be high, and the program will continue to move forward successfully.
Overall, don’t overcomplicate things. Make the deliverables, the rules and the time frame simple – everything should be simple to understand.
Partners should be provided all of the resources that they need to meet your goals. That could mean a variety of things, depending on the vendor partner. Some examples of resources that your partners might need include data reports or access to a program management tool that helps them track those reports.
Another example would be ready-made marketing materials that they can utilize to aid in their local marketing plans.
Communicate with your channel partners frequently and understand what resources that they need. Each time you launch a new cycle, ensure that you are providing your partners with all the resources they need to be successful.
Employees should know what to expect, year after year. Point values should not be inflated to reduce rewards. While you should track, analyze and adjust your program data frequently to ensure that the performance of the campaign is optimal, the goals that they need to reach shouldn’t be exponentially inflated year over year.
Don’t try to overcomplicate your program, especially at first. Make sure that you are providing consistent rewards and that your partners are meeting consistent goals before you even think about graduating or changing the rewards.
Your program needs to provide incentives for each step of the sales process to nurture growth throughout – not just at the very end. Introduce special offers, events and promotions throughout the process to reinvigorate the program as it goes.
Don’t just award points at the end, either – award point-earning behaviors throughout each step of the sales progress so that participants can watch their potential for awards accumulate. This will create a cycle in which new points develop higher levels of motivation to earn more points.