While focusing on channel programs and incentives throughout my career, I’ve been presented many types of incentive questions from both partners and clients. But there was always one that’s been very consistently asked: "Can you share best practices on creating channel incentive programs?"
Many answers have been provided to this important, frequently asked question, but as I thought more about the question itself, I wondered if there really was such a thing as best practices or if it was more like a set of principles to follow. Also, what if the best practice is simply how those principles are implemented? I would like to share the group of principles I’ve followed, helping me develop a successful channel incentive implementation plan:
- Have a clear understanding of your incentive objective
This is part of the foundation that will drive the success of the incentive and identify your expected return
- Define the elements needed to support your incentive
Determine if you have the correct data requirements and necessary tools to support the execution and management of the incentive.
- Establish what the participating criteria is for the incentive
Is the incentive global or regional? Will all partners be eligible to participate, or will it be "invitation only?" Depending on the incentive, objectives and available funding will vary.
- Identify "what’s in it for me" to the participating partner
Determine the value proposition that will convince your partner to take advantage of the incentive. This helps in selecting your partner audience for participation.
- Make the incentive rules clear and easy to understand
Engage your partner in testing the incentive rules – if it takes your partner more than two minutes to understand, it’s too complex. Ask him or her for suggestions and head back to the drawing board.
- Find a senior executive for sponsorship
This is crucial to securing funding and helping evangelize the incentive.
I’ll leave you with this parting thought: Every company has great ideas and reasoning’s for implementing incentive programs to engage partners in different activities and behaviors. However, the incentive’s success will be determined by how well that incentive plan is executed. This all hinges on once the principles are identified and documented, and by the flexibility to implement changes as needed.