Motivating your partners to sell your products or services can be a daunting task. That's where channel incentives come into play. When set up well, valuable incentives can be a powerful way to foster partner loyalty, increase partner engagement, and accelerate your indirect sales.
In this post, you'll find a wealth of channel incentives examples, ideas, and tips to help you build your channel incentive program. Let's dive in!
👉 What you'll find:
- What are channel incentives?
- Why do businesses need a channel incentive program?
- How do you incentivize partners?
- 20 channel incentive examples and ideas
- How to improve your channel incentive program
- How to automate and streamline incentives
What are channel incentives?
Today, it's not enough to only offer quality products or services and expect your partners to sell them. You need to go a step further to stand out in a crowded market to motivate your partners to actively prioritize, promote, and sell your offerings. That's where channel incentives come in.
A channel incentive is essentially a perk, reward, or benefit that your company offers partners. These incentives can be as diverse as your imagination allows, ranging from financial rewards like rebates and discounts, to recognition through exclusive events, or even opportunities for growth through training programs. We'll explore these in more detail below. The idea is to create a win-win scenario that benefits both you and your partners, driving growth and strengthening your long-term business relationships.
Why do businesses need a channel incentive program?
Channel incentive programs incentivize your partners to sell more, prioritize your products over competitors, go the extra mile, and become advocates for your brand. But it's not just about sales numbers. The best channel incentive programs foster a stronger, more loyal relationship with your partners. They let your partners know that you value their efforts and that their success is your success too.
In today's fiercely competitive market, having a well-planned channel incentive program that's easy to access and understand can also set your business apart from the crowd. It can be the deciding factor for a partner choosing between promoting your products or a competitor's.
Because of this, channel incentives are especially valuable to businesses in highly competitive industries such as technology and manufacturing. Given the abundance of similar products and services, these industries often face the challenge of differentiating themselves.
How do you incentivize channel partners?
If you're looking to engage your partners and foster stronger relationships, incentivizing them is a brilliant strategy. But how exactly do you do that?
Incentives can come in various shapes and sizes, as we'll see in more detail below. They can be financial incentives such as rebates or discounts on products sold, or non-financial incentives like exclusive training programs or early access to new products. The opportunities are endless.
However, it's crucial that your incentives resonate with your partners. Use the channel incentive examples here, but also ask yourself:
- What are your partners' main motivations?
- What are their needs?
- What are their objectives for long-term growth?
- What types of incentives would they value most?
- What would be easiest for them to access and use?
By tailoring your incentives to align with your partners' needs, you're showing them that you value and understand their perspective. After all, incentivizing channel partners is about creating a partnership that is rewarding, successful, and built to last.
Figuring out how to motivate your partners won't just involve incentives, though. Read our full eBook on how to start and scale your partner ecosystem to drive incredible growth and engagement with your partners.
Channel incentive examples and ideas
No matter your industry, the following channel incentives can be a game-changer, helping you stand out in a crowded market and fostering stronger, more profitable partnerships.
It's all about creating a win-win scenario that powers both your partners' success and your own. Use these ideas to get started, and find links throughout to in-depth guides to learn more about putting these ideas into practice!
Rebates are a classic, but highly effective channel incentive. They offer your partners the chance to earn back a portion of the price of a product following a sale. This not only stimulates sales but can also help increase partner loyalty.
For instance, a technology company might offer a 5% rebate on all new software license sales for a given quarter, creating an immediate and tangible benefit for high-performing partners.
🔎 Discover more: Find our 10 tips for building wildly successful channel rebate programs here!
SPIFFs, or sales performance incentive funds, provide on-the-spot rewards to sales reps upon hitting certain milestones.
A manufacturer, for instance, could offer cash bonuses for every unit of a newly launched smartphone sold, creating a direct link between effort and reward. Make these easy to access and understand for your partners to encourage consumption.
3. Tiered discounts
Under a tiered discount system, partners are rewarded with higher discounts as they sell more units. This arrangement fuels partners' motivation to sell more and reach higher discount tiers.
For example, a tech firm might offer a 10% discount for selling 50 units of a software package, 20% for 100 units, and so on.
4. Training programs
Educational incentives like on-demand training programs can enhance product knowledge and empower partners to sell more effectively. Offer product training, of course, but also try to go beyond that with training that can further a partners' long-term growth in the mark.
For instance, a finance company might offer certified training courses on the latest financial regulations, building partners' confidence and competence in an ever-changing market.
🔎 Discover more: Find your partner onboarding checklist for a list of tasks to do when you bring on a new partner!
5. Early access to new products
Give your partners the first shot at new products to spur sales and build loyalty. It's also a way to build buzz and get early feedback on new products from your ecosystem.
An incentive like this could be a SaaS company offering beta versions of their upcoming software to their best-performing partners, building excitement and momentum ahead of a full launch.
6. Exclusive events
Hosting exclusive events, like product launches, fun dinners, or training seminars, fosters engagement and strengthens partner relationships.
For instance, a car manufacturer might host an exclusive product demonstration in Las Vegas for high-performing partners, bringing them behind the scenes and making them feel valued.
7. Co-op marketing funds and campaigns
Co-op funds are a marketing-focused channel incentive. These funds are set aside for partners to use in marketing initiatives, increasing product or brand exposure. You can also run full marketing campaigns on behalf of your partners.
⭐️ Example: Xerox implements a fully automated Google Ads campaign for partners
Xerox needed a way to scale their co-marketing efforts for their partners, but initial efforts were time-consuming, costly, and led to conflicting ad campaigns and budgets. Xerox’s team realized they needed a solution they could manage for partners. With Impartner’s Google Ads for the Channel solution, they set up and deployed ad campaigns with zero effort from partners. Today, Google Ads is the first source of leads for Xerox partners and has led to a 75% decrease in cost per lead!
8. Points programs
With a points program, partners earn points for hitting targets, which they can exchange for various rewards. These make it easier to go beyond sales metrics, too.
For example, a telecom company might assign points to different achievements, such as securing large contracts, finishing onboarding, or selling specific products, gamifying their partner performance.
9. Sales contests
Likewise, sales contests can instigate friendly competition among partners, pushing them to sell more. Set time periods for these contests, or run them during industry events.
For example, a finance company might award a trip to a luxurious resort to the broker who sells the most units of a new product line in a specific timeframe, creating a sense of urgency and excitement.
10. Market development funds (MDFs)
MDF can be allocated to partners for initiatives that explore new markets or customer segments, or they can simply be used to fund new campaigns.
For example, a heavy machinery manufacturer might provide MDF to partners who venture into emerging markets or industries, fostering expansion and diversification.
🔎 Discover more: Find MDF best practices to maximize your ROI in our full guide!
11. Deal registration incentives
Offer additional benefits for registering deals to encourage partners to share valuable information that can improve your long-term sales forecasting.
A software company, for instance, might offer a bonus or an increased discount for each deal registered, incentivizing transparency and communication.
🔎 Automate your deal registration with Impartner!
Bianca Kienle, Partner Sales Operations Manager at Yokoy, noted that: "Impartner automatically improved our partner business and revenue because leads are easier to manage. In addition, it improved our partner relationships. In tangible terms, the team now has freed up more time to focus on customer facing activities.”
12. Free or discounted demo products
Providing free or discounted demo products can help your partners showcase the benefits of your products firsthand to potential customers.
For example, a tech firm might offer discounted demo units of their latest gadget to partners, equipping them with the tools they need to convince and convert.
13. Product bundling discounts
Offering bundles of your products discounted rates can motivate partners to sell at a greater volume, help you clear out inventory, and encourage them to upsell your products with all-in-one packages.
For instance, a cybersecurity company could offer a bundle of software, hardware, and ongoing support services at a special rate, creating a compelling package for partners to offer customers.
14. Loyalty programs
Loyalty programs are a great way to reward long-standing partners, fostering sustained collaboration and growth.
What could this look like? A manufacturing company might offer exclusive discounts or benefits to partners who have been in the partnership for over five years, appreciating and rewarding loyalty.
15. Performance-based incentives
Performance-based incentives are common rewards that are given when partners hit certain performance milestones or bring in a certain amount of leads.
For example, a healthcare startup might offer an all-expenses-paid vacation for partners who exceed their annual sales target by a substantial margin, setting the stage for high achievement that drives incredible growth.
🔎 Discover more: Find out how you can drive incredible lead generation among your partners in our full guide!
16. Partner recognition programs
Recognizing your partners for their efforts and achievements can boost morale and encourage continued excellence and engagement.
A telecom company might establish a 'Partner of the Year' award, which could come with benefits such as increased marketing support or exclusive access to products. They could also combine these programs with an annual in-person appreciation event at a luxurious location.
17. Joint planning sessions
Inviting top-performing partners to joint planning sessions can be a powerful incentive. In these sessions, partners get to influence your business strategy, suggesting new product features or market initiatives. You can also offer them business planning support and strategies for long-term growth in your program.
This type of channel incentive not only helps your company with fresh insights from partners on the ground, but also makes partners feel valued and involved.
🔎 Discover more: Learn how you can share, create, and track partner business goals together, in one dedicated platform.
18. Personalized marketing support
Offering personalized marketing support as an incentive can help your partners increase their sales and visibility. It's a win-win.
For instance, a tech company might provide bespoke marketing content, SEO content, or tailored digital advertising campaigns to their high-performing partners.
19. Dedicated technical support
Improved technical support can be a valuable incentive, especially for partners selling or servicing complex products.
A technology company could offer priority tech support or a dedicated account manager to their best partners, ensuring they always have the help they need when supporting their customers.
20. Service-based roles
For companies with complex products that need implementation and ongoing support, offer these roles to certain high-performing partners as an incentive. For example, a SaaS company could allow their best resellers to upsell customers on multi-year support contracts.
By offering partners the chance to access long-tail support fees and ongoing work, you're incentivizing them to become more integrated with your brand and customers.
How to improve your channel incentive program strategy
No matter which incentives you choose, they should motivate your partners to perform better, promote your products more effectively, and contribute to your company's growth. To improve your channel incentive program, follow these tips.
Provide clear communication
Communication is the backbone of a successful channel incentive program. Partners need to understand the incentive program, its mechanics, and how they can benefit from it.
Make sure to articulate clearly how the program works, what the performance metrics are, and how rewards are earned and distributed. Utilize multiple communication channels, such as emails, newsletters, webinars, or even face-to-face meetings.
Also consider conducting regular surveys or even one-on-one interviews to gather valuable feedback. Ask your partners what types of incentives they prefer and what they believe would drive their performance. Ask how you can improve your incentives program to differentiate it from competitors.
Make sure incentives are achievable
It's important to strike a balance when setting the objectives of your incentive program. If the bar is set too high, it can demoralize your partners and decrease participation. Conversely, if it's too easy, it may not drive the desired increase in performance and drain your ROI.
Set realistic and achievable milestones that take into consideration your partners' current performance levels and potential growth.
Measure and adapt
The only way to know if your channel incentive program is working is to track its performance. Set KPIs and measure them regularly to assess the effectiveness of each incentive.
Use data to analyze which incentives are driving the most engagement and which aren’t performing as expected. Don’t be afraid to adjust or replace underperforming incentives. Remember, a successful channel incentive program is not set in stone but is a dynamic initiative that needs to adapt to changing market conditions and partner needs.
How to automate and streamline incentives
With the right channel incentives, you can motivate your partners through every step of the partner lifecycle. The key is to offer diverse, appealing incentives that align with your partners' needs and business goals, and setting up systems that make it easy for partners to understand and claim these incentives.
Make it happen with Impartner, your end-to-end partner relationship management solution. Each day millions of partners in nearly every industry across the globe access Impartner. Why? Because the partner experience matters and leading channel organizations agree.
Impartner is the fastest-growing, most award-winning channel management solution provider on the market. Our partner relationship management (PRM) and through channel marketing automation (TCMA) solutions help companies accelerate revenue and profitability through their indirect sales channels at every partner lifecycle touchpoint.
From partner training and certifications to communications, business planning, and performance tracking, Impartner handles it all and more with best practices and automation built-in.
Need to accelerate your partnerships? We’re ready when you are.