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You have seen channel incentive programs work effectively at other companies and understand how they can motivate distributors, dealers, contractors and agents to step up their sales efforts and drive greater revenue. You’ve probably run similar programs yourself—and now you’re tasked with implementing or enhancing the program at your current organization.

That doesn’t mean the executives at your own company will be familiar with the effectiveness of such programs, meaning you may have a tough time convincing company leaders to invest. After all, fully optimizing your sales through third-party channels can be complex due to all the elements that must come together—and the need for cooperation from everyone involved. All told, it’s easy for busy executives to simply say no when they can’t immediately see the benefits and envision the ROI of using a channel incentive program platform versus trying to handle it all in-house.

If you want to be persuasive, you must start by using all the data at your disposal to learn as much as you can about your indirect sales reps, then determine what’s likely to motivate them. The program you ultimately pitch to your C-suite and partners must be fully strategized to be a win-win for all, featuring the specific incentives designed to appeal to those doing the selling legwork. That means making an informed choice between SPIFs, rebates, MDFs, game elements—or some combination thereof. And when it comes to creating individual rewards for sales reps, you’ll need to decide between perks such as cash, gift cards, merchandise and/or experiences.

As you prepare to approach your execs with the logistics involved in implementing channel incentive technology, how can you determine which kinds of incentives might work best for each client? Consider these factors as you put your proposal together.

  • Learn as much as you can about the demographics and consumer behavior of the people you’re trying to incentivize. Characteristics related to generation, gender, family status, location and socioeconomic status can make a major difference in what motivates our behavior.
  • What do your potential partners say they want? Ultimately, they’re more likely to partner with you if they can design their own programs based on their unique goals and challenges.
  • Zero in on the exact behaviors you wish to promote. Do you need help driving leads, creating buzz about a new product, efficiently moving a product backlog or ramping up sales to meet end-of-quarter goals?
  • Consider the rewards your competitors and your partners’ competitors are offering. Can you offer something different or something of more value?
  • How much will the rewards cost you, and how will that investment fit into your marketing budget? What will be the projected ROI?
  • How soon will your partner be able to participate in your program? Does registering for the program take minutes, or does it require a few weeks and a lot of paperwork?
  • How much partner training will be involved with the incentives you’re envisioning? How much follow-up engagement and overall administration will be necessary?
  • What qualitative benefits, such as better engagement or a strengthening of your brand, may be created with the partner with a particular promotion?

Applying strategy to your channel incentive program will be an important part of getting approval from your C-suite to invest in a software platform to manage it. Make sure you do your homework about the options likely to work best for your partners—as well as for your bottom line.

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