Channel Mechanics

Unlocking Partner Success: Navigating the Right Partner Incentive

Channel Mechanics

Numerous methods exist for incentivizing partners. Yet, to truly accelerate partner success, a pivotal question arises: what is the right partner incentive, to be most effective to move the needle toward a specific objective?

The types of incentive programs and applicable use cases were under the spotlight in our recent webinar, “Partner Incentivization Strategy 2024: Navigating the Right Incentive for the Right Partner Type”. Margaret Adam, Head of Product Marketing at Channel Mechanics, joined Laura Evans, Head of Global Channel Incentives & Distribution at HP, Alli Oneal, Sr. Manager of Global Partner Programs and Partner Experience at Barracuda, and Kenneth Fox, CEO at Channel Mechanics, weighed in on who is best to incentivize: the partner company, individual, or both?


Long-Term Investment Or Short-Term Fix?

One of the first things to consider when creating an incentive program is whether it is a long-term program or a short-term objective. Certain actions, such as fostering partner growth or recruitment, typically demand a longer timeframe for fruition. In such cases, offering rebates to partners who fulfill specific requirements or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) can be viewed as an investment in their business. This approach grants them the flexibility to allocate these payments to enhance their bottom line.

Alternatively, if the aim is to achieve a rapid increase in performance, perhaps aiming for a “quick win,” the focus may be on short-term goals. For instance, you might have a product that requires immediate placement in the market to meet quarterly sales targets. However, it is important to be realistic and consider the time required for the rest of the channel to catch up. In such scenarios, vendors often employ spiffs to incentivize activities that drive immediate results and support short-term goals.


Keep It Simple

It is really important to keep your incentive program as simple as possible. So think about your program – is it complex, are there are a lot of rules? Remember, partners work with multiple vendors, all with their own incentive program rules. You must also ensure you give your distributors and / or partners time to make sure that they’re able to implement that into their sales cycle.

“We always try and put ourselves in our partners’ shoes and think about all of the different vendors spiff programs or rebate programs that they’re trying to balance and keep track of. So simplicity is really key for us.” – Alli Oneal, Sr. Manager of Global Partner Programs and Partner Experience at Barracuda.


Build Global But Think Local

You must also consider if the program is global or regional? Or if it is a global program with regional aspects?

For example, if you’re offering spiffs, do the country rules allow you to pay those out? Are there any tax issues that you have to think about? If you’re running a promotion, are you going to pay in the back-end, at the end of the quarter? Are you going to give it upfront? Or at the time of purchase? And then how do you track all of that?



Tracking Success

Tracking the incentives is key. One of the most important things when you are incentivizing a partner – whether through a rebate or a spiff or a promotion – is knowing where they are on their journey. Also, important is the ability to show them the threshold, that will take them to the next level.

“Having those tools in place to be able to help them while you’re designing the program – that’s where they go when they see what their success rate looks like.” – Laura Evans, Head of Global Channel Incentives & Distribution at HP.


Key Takeaways

After tuning into the panel discussion, we gleaned several important points:

    • Incentives can be given to companies or individuals
    • Incentives must be matched to a specific scenario and objective – what are you trying to achieve?
    • Take into consideration how long an incentive takes to implement for partners and measure that against your goals
    • Most importantly, your incentive program should be easy to follow


Looking to build a Partner Incentives Program that caters to all partner types and business models? 


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