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Breathe New Life into a Channel Incentive Program

Channel incentive programs are inherently trickier to plan and execute rather than an employee incentive program. Channel incentive programs must reach individuals that have varying levels of familiarity with the incentivized product, are likely scattered geographically, and get bombarded with competitors’ incentives daily. Because of that, managing a channel incentive program comes with more red tape, challenges, and requires more attention.

The most significant pain point that comes up with clients and prospects is “keeping a channel program fresh.” In other words, maintaining the draw and excitement of a channel incentive program to stay in the front of a channel rep’s mind when they’re sourcing solutions for their customers. Below are the top ten ways to provide a shock-to-the-system for any channel incentive program to keep audiences amped up!

1. Overlays

Number one on the list is a surefire way to send up a flare in your incentive program and alert your audience to start participating for (oftentimes) bigger and better rewards. Overlays are periodic promotions that keep your channel program new and exciting by introducing an aspirational award for a limited time. These rewards could be an all-expenses-paid trip to a sporting event or a bucket list destination or big-ticket merchandise that holds significant trophy value, like a new sports car or watch. Overlays pair perfectly with new product launches or products that are lagging in sales to help get them up to speed on the sales charts. However, overlays can also be implemented as a way of improving the overall visibility and communication campaign of the incentive program itself. If the quota share is falling, it may be time to think of a shiny new overlay to help bring it back up!

2. Quarterly Campaigns

Much like overlays, quarterly campaigns highlight sales contests focused on stretches of time rather than certain products. Highly useful for picking up sales during quarters that are predicted to be slower, it is a type of overlay that many channel sales managers will use to shore up the expected dip in revenue. That’s not to say that quarterly campaigns need to be cherry-picked. Some programs utilize a new quarterly campaign for each quarter in the year as a way of continually keeping the incentives fresh and the channel reps alert of new developments and earning potential.

3. Sales Enablement

If the channel sales are slow to start at the launch of a new product, it could be that the channel reps don’t fully understand the unique selling proposition or inherent value of the product. Sales enablement campaigns help train and educate the channel about how to properly communicate the advantages of the product to their customer base. Sending out a sales kit or hosting an edutainment event at their office can be the difference between falling into obscurity or becoming their top-of-mind solution.

4. Power of Choice

One of the top trends in the incentive industry is providing audiences with the power to choose how they’re rewarded. Allowing channel participants to pick from a catalog of tantalizing experiences, as well as gift cards and merchandise, gives every rep a reason to want to engage with the incentive program actively. Brightspot’s channel incentive software platform, Ignite, comes with a fully customizable catalog and tracks, redeems, and fulfills awards with an in-depth reporting module for the managers. Empowering an audience to earn and collect within an incentive program is becoming more accessible and more affordable.

offering choice in channel incentive program

5. Demand Gen Roadshow

Utilize local market events to garner attention to the channel incentive program by allowing the area’s reps to use a roadshow as a prospecting tool. Anything from private movie premieres, sporting events, or even celebrity chef cooking classes can be used as a co-marketing event to encourage attendance for channel partners and their top customers. Demand gen roadshows may be the best way to immediately gain a loyal incentive program participant if there is room in the budget. Use this handy incentive program price calculator to get a benchmark on how much a channel incentive program should be budgeting for, and how much extra could be leftover to implement some of these refreshing tactics.

6. Training & Certification Integration

For more technical channels, integrating learning incentives for training & certifications could be the best way to keep a product relevant and make sure that the end-user has the best information available during the sales process. Not only does adding spot rewards for achieving certifications or education thresholds help promote an incentive program, but it also enables the channel to communicate the product to the customer better.

7. Partner Recruitment Events

Much like a demand gen roadshow, partner recruitment events are focused solely on winning the hearts and minds of new channel salespeople and solutions experts. Bundling this meet-and-greet with a dinner cruise, museum exhibit, or a night at a concert can help build an immediate bond and garners channel loyalty like no other tactic could.

8. Gamification

Everyone loves a little game now and then! Adding gamification to your incentive program keeps it fun and memorable while also providing a way for participants to earn a little bonus on top of their rewards. Gamification can also be used to stretch the awards budget by providing participants with more opportunities to win smaller prizes by spinning a prize wheel instead of shelling out larger ticket prizes more regularly.

channel incentive program gamification

9. Lunch & Learn Programs

Lunch & Learn programs are the most efficient way of reaching more channel participants in person than any other method. Going out to offices with a catered lunch to educate reps on a product or just share updates on the incentive program around it helps keep an audience engaged and loyal. There are even digital inbound solutions to Lunch & Learn programs where guests can sign up directly from a host’s email invite and are continuously updated on logistics, materials, and more. If the digital solution is from a full-service provider like Brightspot, even the logistics of securing a venue, managing catering, and creating the meeting collateral will all be handled ahead of time.

10. Referral Incentives

Refer-a-friend programs are immensely helpful for building loyalty within a channel as well as boosting registrations for an incentive program. Referrals communicate the program and product to a new rep while keeping a current rep more engaged. This tactic is especially helpful in reaching younger audiences that are becoming increasingly more difficult to market to via email.


Register for the corresponding webinar on March 25th for more details on how to keep a channel incentive program fresh! In the meantime, these methods of refreshing channel incentives and many other bright ideas on improving a program can be found in our eBook, Channel Partner Rewards: The Complete How-to Guide.

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Michael Pisterzi

Author Michael Pisterzi

Marketing Manager | Tech-centric marketer with a dedication to relationship marketing in the incentives & events industry.

More posts by Michael Pisterzi