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Readying your Partner Programs for 2021

by: Emily Rainone | November 23, 2020

During VISTAS last month, Kristen Cole and I discussed readying your partner programs for 2021. I hope it was the impetus to start thinking about what you should consider ahead of the new year to get your partner programs squared away and ready to launch.

I want to point out a few quick reminders about preparing your programs for the new fiscal year and offer ideas to think about with the changing landscape of incentivizing during a pandemic.

MDF Programs

Every year, I see organizations doing what they can to quickly make their way through the motions of updates and changes that perhaps could have, or should have, been done in prior months. It’s important to avoid delays if possible because that causes uncertainty—and uncertainty is not a word any organization wants their partners to associated with their program. In order to avoid delays in launching your MDF programs to partners, consider the following.

  • Addition of and changes to activities should be determined and acted on early
  • When making changes to activities, remember to update partner-facing documentation and tool descriptions (e.g., T&Cs, program rules and guidelines, descriptive text in your claiming system)
  • Remember any significant program changes should be communicated well in advance of fiscal launch to the affected partner group

Getting any fiscal launch changes in the system early allows for timely communication, early adoption by partners and cleaner data on the backend.

Incentive Programs

Rebates and other promotion programs see delays in fiscal launch as well. For these b2b incentive programs delays are caused by details that haven’t been hashed out. Sometimes complexity of programs can add to this delay, so keep in mind the items below that should be thought through and implemented early.

  • Strategize on updates to payouts and the resulting rebate formula changes
  • Keep in mind that updates to tier structures your larger organization may be implementing can also affect rebate formulas, and updates may be required (or needed)
  • Partner eligibility should be reviewed well in advance of the review cutoff date provided so that changes are reflected in eligibility lists and communications
  • Consider simplifying your certification requirements to meet eligibility
  • Once formulas and eligibility lists are updated, make sure to set partner targets ahead of fiscal launch and communications to partners ahead of the new year

These are just a few things you should consider reviewing prior to January, in order to start the year out on the right foot with your partners. With all the uncertainty swirling around in the world today, you can bring certainty and comfort to your partners by remaining consistent and communicating early and often. ( That way they’ll know exactly what they’re getting from their partnership with you in 2021.