Whether you are establishing your first incentive program, or you run multiple programs that span thousands of partners globally, that program must drive partner behaviour. While at the same time, keeping partners focused and engaged with your brand. Here, we have compiled a list of five best practices for running your partner incentive program.
Weighing in on the list are Laura Evans, Senior Global Program Manager with Poly, Don Lopes, Director of Global Partner Programs at Juniper Networks, alongside Channel Mechanics’ CEO Kenneth Fox, who all recently guested on the webinar, “Is your Partner Incentive Program worth the Incentive?“.
5 Best Practices For Running Your Partner Incentive Program
1. Make it easy to understand
Ensure that your partners can easily view and identify what their incentives are – having too many can be just as bad as not having enough! So make it easy for your partners to understand the incentive and track their performance. Also, we know salespeople are competitive at heart, so the ability to easily identify what incentives exist at any time within a quarter, is critical. Displaying those incentives to partners encourages them to strive to go above and beyond to reach their targets.
2. Keep it simple to claim
A key for any successful incentive program, it that it should be simple for your partners to claim their reward. Making it easy for partners to see how they’re gaining incentive dollars back, and even ensuring that they are clicking and accepting those dollars, keeps communication open and allows them to see how you’re investing back into their business. This makes it easier for them to focus on and continue selling your products. In addition, it allows you to account for your programs and clearly see where you’re investing budget to make sure that programs are working.
3. Clearly identify what is being rewarded
Similarly, make sure your partners understand what you’re rewarding them for. If you’re offering an incentive, you’re trying to drive a specific behaviour, so you want to make sure that it’s doing what you want.
“We used to get these comments back such as ‘my partner received $5,000 – can you tell me what it’s for?’” says Evans. “That tells you two things. The program perhaps didn’t influence their buying or selling behaviour and / or because we didn’t have a way for them to see how they were achieving money back from Poly, they weren’t able to understand the true profitability that you as a vendor bring to their business.”
4. Help partners to visualize
The best way to do this is with a visual dashboard. Therefore, bin the spreadsheets! “If you’re going to run a quarterly rebate, it’s so important that you show the partner how they’re performing against their targets on a week-by-week basis at a minimum,” said Fox. “Otherwise, you can’t impact sales, if that’s what you’re trying to drive, for example. To be impactful, you have to work hand-in-glove with your partner. That way they will truly understand what it is you’re trying to do.”
And finally, sometimes, let’s face it, vendors create incentive programs that are just too complex. What can seem like a great idea at the drawing board, can become difficult to execute in the channel. So make sure your program is easily accessible via your partner portal. And that partners can use it as a one-stop-shop to manage all their incentives. Taking complexity out is key for helping to drive the business for anybody thinking about implementing channel programs.
As a vendor, you’re often striving for differentiation in a crowded market. You want to stand out, and you want more of your partners’ time. Therefore ease-of-use and transparency are key in terms of best practices.
“Make it easy for leaders, principals, executives, and owners in a partner organization to fully understand the profitability that they’re making from you. Through the wealth of investments you’re making in their business, you’re going to stand out”, said Lopes.