10 Best Uses for a Channel Partner Incentive Program

by: Nichole Gunn June 22, 2021

Data and behavior are two of the biggest drivers of sales channel success. If you're a channel sales or channel marketing professional, this isn't news to you. How many times have you wished you could pull off targeted channel strategies, if only you had the actionable data and enough team-work? The right channel technology and tools can help you drive behaviors and collect sales data. A channel partner incentive program, for example, accelerates your sales and marketing strategies by powering them with motivation, brand value, and personalized experiences. Here are ten examples:

Customer Loyalty Plans

A channel partner incentive program is an excellent way to establish brand distinction in B2B markets where it's often hard to stand out. By providing your channel partners with rewards that can be spent on the things and experiences they care about, your brand gains emotional significance and personal value with them. According to a Think with Google study, B2B buyers are 50% more likely to buy from brands they see as having personal value. By connecting personally and emotionally to your channel partners, you can build customer loyalty and increase market share.

Non-Cash Sales Promotion Rewards

You might have found that excitement over sales promotions plateaus after a while. There are, after all, only so many times your sales reps can get excited about the same basic principle: sell more, get bonus. If you use cash as a reward or bonus, you have to continuously increase the amount you offer to maintain the same levels of engagement. Or you can use tangible incentive rewards as a more sustainably enticing option. An online rewards catalog allows you to highlight exciting merchandise from a selection of millions. Not only does this keep things interesting, but non-cash rewards are more effective than cash because people find them more justifiable and acceptable to acknowledge.

online rewards

Targeted Incentive Marketing

Incentive program technology allows you to segment channel partners to create targeted and personalized promotions, experiences, and communication. With this granular approach, you prove yourself more relevant and engaging to channel partners, while getting more out of your promotion budget.

Incentive-related marketing tends to have high engagement rates. Incentive marketing emails, for example, can have up to 700% higher email click-through rates than standard marketing emails. You can take advantage of this unusually high engagement to ask channel partners for information or interaction they'll be more amenable to sharing, such as:

  • sales or customer data
  • feedback/surveys
  • reviews
  • ratings
  • testimonials

Incentive marketing reminds program participants of the value you offer. And the best time to ask channel partners for something is when you've just offered them value!

Incentivized Learning

Incentives can be a powerful tool to help you drive sales education and sales enablement. When you offer channel partners rewards for their training participation, they're much more likely to enjoy, repeat, and continue their product knowledge expansion. The primary benefits of using training incentive technology are:

  • Learning is positively reinforced with an immediate, instantly gratifying reward. Studies show that  Immediately rewarding channel partners for completing training psychologically reinforces a connection between the pleasure of the reward and the act of training. This compels greater training participation and can even make training more enjoyable on its own.
  • Training is more effective when it's repetitive and presented in a variety of contexts.  This is easier to accomplish with tools and features that facilitate easily-updated, multimedia training content and automated delivery.

Gamified Sales Competitions

You can amp up sales competitions with gamification elements such as an interactive sales leaderboard displaying the top performers. Along with the reward that your channel sales reps are competing for, leaderboards and other gamification elements make sales competitions more fun and engaging, while increasing participation.

on-the-spot rewards

Quick SPIFFS

Sales incentive performance funds, or SPIFFs, are great for increasing sales (especially sales of a specific product) in a short time frame. For quick sales promotions like this, debit cards and gift cards make great incentives. Because participants can spend these rewards almost anywhere, the effect is immediate. You also don't need to spend much time explaining a card-based incentive program to participants, since everyone is familiar with debit and gift cards.

On-the-Spot Reward Points

Another method of utilizing incentives is to offer on-the-spot reward certificates in physical or digital form. You can use these certificates to reward channel partners when they go the extra mile. By publicly and immediately shining a spotlight on these behaviors, you not only reinforce them, but use them to define and illustrate your brand values and corporate culture.

On-the-spot certificates can also be used at trade shows, conferences, and other in-person events to spark interest in your incentive program and entice new customers.

Open Partner Program Enrollment

An open enrollment incentive program is one in which participants don't need an invitation to join. They can simply sign up through a publicly assessible registration form. You can customize this form to capture data that helps fill in the information gaps about your end-users. Then you can use this valuable data to create better channel sales and marketing plans!

Incentive Trips for Most Valued Partners

Incentive travel requires more time and resources to plan and manage than other incentive rewards. However, it's typically the reward with the highest return on investment. It's estimated that incentive trip ROI is “$2.90 for every dollar spent.”

By inviting your most valued channel partners on group incentive trips, you not only show your appreciation to them with one-of-a-kind experiences, you solidify your long-term partnerships and create the kind of positive emotional connections that are hard for your competition to replicate.

A channel partner incentive program—much like sales and marketing software—can enable you to create unique, engaging experiences with your channel partners. You don't have to limit yourself to the 10 suggestions on this list! Incentive rewards can supplement just about any sales and marketing strategy, especially those that rely on collaboration, interaction, and motivation. Use these tips as the jumping-off point to meet your unique distribution channel objectives using a channel partner incentive program.


About Nichole Gunn

Nichole Gunn is the VP of Marketing at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that delivers advanced, agile B2B customer loyalty and channel sales incentives programs.