Channel Partner Incentives: New Tools

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How do you design channel partner incentives that build product awareness, grow sales and market share, and  instill customer loyalty?

The Incentive Research  Foundation has compiled a go-to resource for planning channel partner incentives.

In a channel incentive program, the sponsoring company relies on dealers or channel partners to sell its products or services. How do you design incentive programs that build product awareness, grow sales and market share, and  instill customer loyalty? The Incentive Research Foundation has come up with an online toolkit to help plan channel partner incentives.

Winning programs

Best practices in developing channel incentives include:

  • Strong focus on goal-based structures such as sales quotas in their program structures
  • Multiple award types in a single program are very common. Over 80% of U.S. firms use more than one award type. U.S. businesses with channel incentive programs use:
         o Gift cards (63%)
         o Merchandise (51%)
         o Award points (43%)
         o Trips and travel (30%)
  • The vast majority of top-performing organizations either have multiple programs designed and managed under a common purpose (48%) or a single program for the entire company (42%).
  • While the product and interest in travel were important parts of program satisfaction, so were fairness and an opportunity to bond with leadership.

    Best practices:

    A few best practices used by companies in their channel partner incentives include prioritizing participant benefits when selecting rewards, budgeting based on operating income vs. gross margin and prioritizing reach over exclusivity.It’s important to have clear, concrete qualifiers, with no tiers or segment adjustments.Companies with successful programs also promote them in their broader corporate communications,

How to measure success

In channel partner incentive programs, almost 70 percent measure the firm’s revenue from increased product sales, while 75 percent track new customers and 50% track increased market share. While harder to measure, intangible benefits – such as culture, collaboration, and teamwork – are a critical component of the most impactful programs.

You Might Also Be Interested In:

5 Key Strategies for Channel Incentives

5 Takeaways From the Incentive Travel Index Survey

Merchandise vs. Travel: Match Your Awards to Your Audience


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Barbara Scofidio is Editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In her 30 years in the industry, she has become known for her passion around greening meetings, growing awareness of human trafficking and promoting CSR activities as part of business events. She is currently a member of SITE's Women IN Leadership committee and the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee. She was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of SITE for 30 years, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. Before joining Prevue in 2014, she served as Editor of Corporate Meetings & Incentives (MeetingsNet) for more than 20 years. She has a BA in Literature/Rhetoric from Binghamton University. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.