Channel incentives and engaged channels sell more product. Gone are the days when you can have a physical representative visiting a channel partners ‘bull pen’ so inspire and motivate. It has mostly today to be done remotely. Channel engagement comes from a systematic management process that has a number of touch points within a channel partner, and a range of tools are used to deliver the benefits.
Channel loyalty is a key byproduct of a successful channel engagement programme. Channel partners are motivated by emotional values such as brand loyalty, and money. Delivering channel loyalty cost-effectively is a very key challenge.
Sales incentives are a key element with incentives offered to channel partners. These can be sell ‘this’ and get ‘that’, but this carries much wastage. So usually it will be based on achieving a baseline level of sales, and then partners will get rewarded once they go beyond this point.
There are a range of ways of rewarding channel partners. At principal level this can be Marketing Development Funds (link) or rebates. At sales person level it is more usual to have a traditional reward programme.
Incentive travel remains a key reward in the channel space. With low cost travel being much more available now, progamme managers have to find much more ‘money can’t buy’ type travel experiences.
Marketing Development Funds
Prizes, trips and financial spiffs have become staples as methods of incentivising partners to meet or exceed sales goals and thresholds.
However, with better tracking and benchmarks in place to measure the actual impact on revenue and demand generation, many channel marketers are starting to re-examine short-term incentive programs.
In addition, the ongoing Marketing Development Fund (MDF) programs and rebates traditionally offered as consistent funding to keep vendors top-of-mind, as well as offer lead and demand generation resources to partners are also being called into question.
New research and insights from top analysts are indicating an extreme shift to more long-term strategies that drive consistent revenue and loyalty for both partners and vendors.
For example, a recent survey of 102 U.S. technology channel players, from Channel insight rated the following incentives in order from most effective to least effective:
1. Performance-based incentives
2. Big-deal discounts
3. Volume rebates
4. Short-term price-based incentives;
5. Sales Promotional Incentive Fund (SPIF) programmes
6. Non-payment incentives