In Incentive Program Planning

What are channel incentive programs and how can they motivate? Most importantly, how can you get your channel incentive programs to perform? These questions have intrigued industry leaders for decades, and the answer is not cut and dry However, when these types of questions arise, you need to revisit your programs.

Offer the Right Bait

Bait is used to hook or draw in a desired partner. Bait is the heart of all behavioral, emotional and psychological nature,  business is no exception. You want to use this technique carefully and properly, if you want to get the best results. When the bait does not excite or motivate, the results can cause any incentive program to under-perform. Although, under-performance is viewed as a failure, it can actually be viewed as a guide. A guide points out what to do in the event of a problem, how to resolve the problem, and when to revisit the problem.

The answer to resolving performance problems begins with motivating your sales staff. What do you have to offer them that will motivate them to perform beyond their minimum efforts?

Be Willing to Change Marketing Strategies

Regardless of how well-structured your incentive program may be. It cannot be successful if the right tools are not the main ingredients. How you present your intentions to your partners and sales staff is essential for success. Sometimes an ideal might be great, but the structural design is flawed due to inaccurate information or incomplete data. Running the same channel incentive program, year after year with little or no results is a waste of money, time and energy. The numbers must line up with the financial expectations of everyone involved.

Do a thorough research of the current marketing industry, and determine what types of incentive programs are trending. Find out what channel partners are investing in, and how you can best meet their needs. What is it that motivates your partners and can you deliver? Look into recent surveys conducted by Channel Data Management teams and take notice of the results. Be willing to offer an array of incentives, based on your analysis of your partners need. This may or may not include offering or considering:

  • Special pricing
  • Product based programs
  • Both debit and ship programs
  • Manufacturer Development Funding programs
  • Co-op programs
  • Sales Quota Attainment

The incentives above might not be attractive to all of your partners. Therefore, you may need to adjust your current plans. The Sales Quota Attainment approach might work best, since it provides a monetary reward system. Businesses housing products that are slow or difficult to sell can appreciate an incentive program that is designed to bring in a profit.

Other types of incentive programs to consider are loyalty programs. Loyalty programs can be community based, as they are designed to build relationships, based on long-term usage, sales promotions and contests. Even the prospect of earning a reward is an attractive incentive, if the reward is worth working for.

Consider Dividing and Categorizing Your Channel Incentive Programs By Manufacturer Desires, such as:

  • Program based- This type of program offers at least three ranking systems to describe a program-based incentive program
  • Objective based- May use new customers’ purchases as a measuring tool
  • Performance based- Provides metric data and measures sales growth throughout the years
  • Activity based- Uses Manufacturing Development Funds

Remember Channel Partners Depend on Your Incentive Programs Financially

Therefore, it is your responsibility to ensure that every program is properly structured and executed. Marketing surveys concluded that channel partners find these (3) types of incentive programs most appealing and motivating:

  • MDF (Manufacturing Development Funds
  • Big (Large) Deal Discounts
  • Performance Based Incentives

Stay in Tune with Your Partners and Sales Teams

The best way to ensure that you are in tune with what your channel partners want is to communicate. Make sure your partners know what type of programs you are offering and what incentives are up for grabs. Use a mixture of communication channels that reaches across all barriers. For instance, do not focus solely on online advertising or communication, incorporate mouth-to-mouth, posting flyers, direct mail, billboard ads, text messaging and telemarketing. Be creative and daring. Never be afraid to venture out into new ways of reaching customers, motivating sales teams and understanding channel partner incentive programs and how to make them work.

  • Make use of all the available communication vehicles on the open market.
  • Try incorporating other forms of communication such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other media sites.
  • Be sure the message is clear and precise and not confusing.
  • State your intentions and expectations.

Offer Fewer Prizes and More Cash Incentives

The modern-day business industry is filled with a lot of complexity. Nothing is rarely simple anymore. Therefore, partners want programs that are easy to understand and navigate. Partners want plans that offer realistic and attainable goals. Basically, what partners want is cash incentives. Cash incentives provide less hassle, whereas, prizes unlock problems like tax issues and other financial issues. So, make your channel sales incentive programs as simple as possible.

Most, if not all, incentive programs rely on startup cash. Make sure you have enough cash in reserve to implement a great incentive program. Determine how long you want the program to run, and which incentive programs channel partners respond to best. Make sure that all data is accurate, and that your metric tool is working properly.

Initiate Prompt Payments

Unforeseen events can and do happen. Nevertheless, always make it a point to pay your partners on time. Late payments can present a problem and can ultimately have an adverse effect on your business relationship. Keep the relationship friendly, but professional, and keep the communication channel open to both sending and receiving information. Prevent obstacles by proof reading, evaluating and reviewing all paperwork. Processing claims are time consuming and inaccurate or missing information can place a burden of your partners.

Create a Simple One-Stop Platform for Every Partner to Easily Access

Use diverse platforms when you are doing business with diverse partners. If possible, use one common platform or format that every partner can easily adapt to. Revisit any incentive program that might be outdated and be prepared to make the proper revisions. These changes include addressing channel sales incentive growths, cost of operations, and other fees associated with operating any type of business-based incentive program.

How well your Channel Incentive Program performs, depends on your willingness to make the best changes at the right time. Partner with a highly-experienced incentive program partner, Incentive Insights, today. Research, planning, implementation, and fulfillment management help you achieve a high performance of your channel incentive program and Incentive Insights can help at every stage. Contact Incentive Insights for more information.

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