“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Creating and initiating an effective channel strategy is one of the hardest challenges channel program strategists face today. Due to rapid changes in the industry, vendors are more deliberate and outcome-focused, and it’s not as simple as pivoting to a one-size-fits-all approach. They need a flexible, step-by-step model on how to build the best channel incentive strategy and program.

We’ve broken those Channel Strategy best practices down into eight key steps:

  1. Create a clear business objective

    Align the business unit strategy with the overall channel strategy, define the ROI and KPIs, and decide which partner set or tier(s) to focus on.

  2. Understand your channel partner ecosystems

    Understanding what drives your channel partners, what they want and what they like about other programs will help you determine the right mix of behaviors that you’ll need to influence and programs and incentives you’ll need to create.

  3. Determine the right mix of channel incentives

    When you influence the right behaviors, you can deliver positive results.

  4. Secure resources

    To run an incentive program there are many internal and external resources you’ll need to bring on board, from global executive leadership and analytics to regional support and training.

  5. Create clear program guidelines

    By making sure that a strategy has detailed descriptions updated regularly, simple incentive rules, necessary supporting documentation, and educated and trained partners, programs are naturally easier to understand and adopt.

  6. Optimize channel incentive engagement

    Deploy, track and measure multiple programs globally, providing partners with the ability to view rebates, claims and incentives – all in a single location.

  7. Market your channel incentive program

    Continually market throughout the entire lifecycle of your program by including a variety of touchpoints (emails, participation awards and marketing calendars) to guarantee partner awareness.

  8. Evaluate your program and elevate your engagement

    To maximize from a program’s insights, vendors must be constantly assessing and adjusting strategies, providing program partners a bird’s eye view of their growing partner network successes.

When completing your channel strategy, make sure that key people are engaged, include your partner’s feedback when creating and modifying your program, embrace the uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty and be sure to finetune parts of your program as needed.

Kristen Cole - Client Director at Vistex

Kristen Cole
Client Director at Vistex

Kristen has supported indirect sales channel marketing strategy and initiatives for a very lucky 13 years. Prior to Vistex, her career was in Sales and Marketing in a variety of industries. Today Kristen uses the combination of Vistex’s channel services and SaaS based channelConduit suite to provide solution sets designed to engage the indirect sales channel and equip High Tech companies and their partners for program success.