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A channel partner rewards program can be a powerful tool to motivate your partners and boost your sales. But you can’t just throw some prizes at them and hope for the best. You need to design and communicate your program carefully so that it aligns with your goals and your budget, and so that your partners know exactly what they need to do and what they will get in return. Think of it as the WIIFM factor – “what’s in it for me.” How will you make your partners say “wow” and “yes”? 

Selecting the right rewards program

According to the Incentive Federation, 84% of U.S. businesses spend $176 billion annually on award points, gift cards, trips and travel, merchandise, and experiential rewards to reward sales staff, employees, channel partners, and customers. A channel incentive program is an effective tool to align partner efforts, showcase products, boost sales, expand market share, and outperform the competition. However, not all programs are created equal. You need to find the best one for your goals. 

Channel Partner Rewards Programs 
Channel partner incentive programs are a proven way to enhance your channel performance and loyalty. These programs provide tangible rewards to your resellers, distributors, service providers, and system integrators for achieving sales and performance targets. They also encourage them to exhibit the behaviors that you value, such as completing training, promoting your brand, or generating leads. By implementing channel partner incentive programs, you can create better partnerships, increase your market share, and align your channel with your distribution strategy. According to a study by Aberdeen Group, companies that offer channel partner incentive programs have 9% higher annual revenue growth, 4% more profitable partners, and 6% higher partner retention rate than those that don’t. 

Dealer & Distributor Incentives 
Manufacturers use these incentives to motivate dealers and distributors to sell specific products and meet performance targets. Incentives can include rebates, branded awards, merchandise, and other rewards to drive sales and enhance brand representation. Furthermore, they can strengthen the relationship and trust between the manufacturers and the dealers or distributors, making them more loyal and committed to the brand.  

Training and Sales Enablement Incentives 
These programs are designed to incentivize sales teams to participate in training courses and enhance their product knowledge. By introducing incremental awards throughout the sales cycle, these programs inherently create a win-win scenario for the sponsoring company. While sales reps earn rewards for completing learning modules, completing certifications, enhancing their skills, and staying updated on market trends, they in turn drive growth and perform more effectively. 

Program Structures  

Your incentive program’s structure is essential for its success. You can motivate the right behaviors, increase partner involvement, and accomplish your channel goals by matching the program structure with one of the following suitable program types. 

Open-Ended Programs  
These programs reward anyone who meets the required goals, encouraging widespread involvement and excitement. Open-ended programs tend to have a stronger effect on mid-level performers and can be cost-effective as they scale with incremental sales growth. In fact, incentive programs can be self-funding, meaning they pay for themselves in terms of return on investment.  

Closed-Ended Programs  
These programs set a fixed number of winners. They have a stable budget and often give bigger prizes, but can sometimes demotivate participants who think they have no chance to win. This structure is common for reward travel programs, like President’s Club Trips. 

Plateau Programs 
These programs give rewards based on how well someone performs, with points for each improvement. Plateau programs make the budget more predictable and encourage people to perform better. 

Program Lifecycle

The duration of your channel partner reward program should align with your sales cycle to ensure sufficient buy-in and participation. Programs too short may fail to motivate, while those too long may lose momentum. Additionally, expect a ramp-up period where participation gradually increases, typically peaking between 18-24 months after program launch. 

Keep It Simple  
Simplicity is key. Overly complex programs can confuse and deter participation. Ensure that both participants and sponsors find value in the program, with clear incentives and a satisfactory return on investment. 

Expertise in Channel Incentive Design  
Designing effective channel incentive programs requires both science and art. Expertise from specialized incentive companies can provide valuable best practices and insights, ensuring your program is well-structured and impactful.  

We recognize the multifaceted components involved in running a successful company. We are dedicated to crafting seamless programs that leave a lasting impression on your team. At Brightspot, we create tailored channel partner rewards programs for Fortune 1000 companies, driving sales and leaving lasting impressions on participants. For more ideas, visit our incentive program page, or drop us a line to discover how we can help elevate your sales strategy. 

Pali Chhabra

Author Pali Chhabra

Pali Chhabra is a Program Manager specializing in sales incentive and employee engagement campaigns. Pali has built a passion for developing impactful campaigns in marketing and events for the past 10+ years. Taking a program from ideation through reconciliation, Pali always strives to achieve the best results possible. Pali’s versatile background helps him excel in both the creative and operational facets of the incentives industry. He can tackle just about any program objective presented to him and has garnered the ability for developing a comprehensive rewards solution for any audience & demographic. Pali maintains an an Incentive Professional (IP) certification.

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