Channel Mechanics

Who Best to Incentivize: The Partner Company, the Individual, or Both?

Channel Mechanics

With an increasingly diverse partner ecosystem, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to partner incentives. But knowing who best to incentivize – and when – still plays an integral part in the success of your partner incentive strategy.

This subject was tackled during our webinar, “Partner Incentivization Strategy 2024: Navigating the Right Incentive for the Right Partner Type”. A panel of experts, comprising 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?


Mix And Match

“It’s definitely a mix on who we incentivize, and then having the programs map specifically to who we are incentivizing.” – Alli Oneal, Sr. Manager of Global Partner Programs and Partner Experience at Barracuda

Vendors typically implement spiffs for both sales and technical representatives independently, contingent upon specific actions. This shift is due to the increased significance of technical representatives in the entire sales process. Consequently, vendors are broadening their incentives to encompass supporting functions beyond sales. For instance, they may align incentives with certifications for technical representatives. While simultaneously running a rebate program to the actual partner company.


Being Flexible

It’s worth pointing out that some partner companies may not allow their individual reps to claim on spiffs. This may be for legal reasons. Instead, vendors can reward the partner company, but let them decide how they disperse the incentive among their employees. Whether that’s cash or points, or a combination of both. It’s about giving partners the flexibility to decide what works best for their business, and complementing that.

“At the end of the day, they are the employees of the company. And while we can help create those incentives, we do have to be respectful on how they choose to go to market with their own sales strategy.” – Laura Evans, Head of Global Channel Incentives & Distribution at HP.



Two Types Of Incentive Running In Parallel

There are also scenarios where a mix of incentive types can be in play. For example, you may want to transition your partners to a cloud-based product, moving them away from traditional on-prem to a monthly recurring model. But for this, you will need to provide training to partners, which is typically something incentivized with spiffs to the individual. So you may have two incentives running in parallel, one targeted at the individual and another one targeted at the partner company.


Pay Up Quickly

It is important to note that the speed of payment is significant. Vendors need to ensure timely pay-out of incentives; otherwise, the value of the incentive diminishes significantly. Delays in payment may lead the partner to forget the reasons for their reward. Incentives cultivate a sense of “muscle memory” among partners, fostering competitive behavior among individuals for the upcoming period.


Key Takeaways

  • Vendors pay incentives to individuals or companies, based on their specific sales strategy
  • More than one incentive can be in play at any given time, such as Spiffs or Rebates
  • When paying to the partner company, it is the partner that determines how best to allocate them
  • Vendors must be flexible of their partners’ business models, and respectful of how partners want to run leads and manage their team


To sum up, the factors that influence who a vendor chooses to incentivize is based on specific key performance indicators (KPIs). Whether it is the overall company or an individual contributor, will be up to the partner, and what works best for their sales strategy.


Looking to build a modern incentives program that caters to all partner types and business models, 



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