Channel incentive programs tend to focus on sales, rewarding top sellers and the sale of particular products. An unfortunate by-product of this is that the richest partners with the most resources at their disposal are the ones that usually do the best, while the underdogs, with a whole lot of potential, get left to the wayside. So in some ways, the incentive business begins to look a lot more like an entitlement reward business.
Companies and channel partners need to be offered ways of performing well while keeping costs low, because most businesses have very tight purse strings. So we thought we’d help you out by outlining a few ways you can lend a helping hand to the smaller channel partners, making sure they stay on form, and ultimately engage in the behaviors you want to incentivize.
Sales people shouldn’t have to set aside large swathes of time to make claims in your program. You need to make it simple so that they can easily slot registrations, updates and claim-making into their daily working lives. Remember that any time taken away from selling is opportunities and money lost for you. Channel partners have finite resources so the take-away message here is that if program management, updating and claiming takes up too much time and resources it will simply limit their engagement with your brand.
2. Speed and transparency
Make sure that rewards are provided with speed and efficiency. For more on the importance of efficient reward delivery, check out our blog post on the topic.
Similarly, if there’s a problem with a submitted claim you need to address it with the claimant right off the bat and don’t leave it festering in the system for centuries, aggravating and de-stimulating participants. Claimants don’t want to have to make three phonecalls, send off two emails and fill out forms just to get their well-earned reward. That frankly kills all the joy and causes a phenomenon called ‘delay discounting’ - a reduction in the perceived value of a reward because of a delay. Delay discounting takes place in direct relation to the costs associated with reward redemption. If you make partners do loads of drab activities like waiting in a queue, making a call and sending an email, they’ll devalue the reward…just like that.
3. Show them the money
When asked, front-line channel partners invariably express a desire for cash rewards, as opposed to trips, book vouchers and other such treats. There is debate in the incentive industry about the effectiveness of cash versus creative alternatives, but sometimes in the end it’s good to bow to the voices of the masses.
Studies have also shown that when it comes to money, delay discounting is much less likely to take place. The money maintains its enticing and pristine glamor regardless of delays and redemption difficulties.
4. Reward the crème de la crème
Offering rewards for those who are at the very height of their game keeps top performers motivated and increases engagement from the most lucrative band of partners in your ecosystem. So it’s a good idea to set aside a little extra cash and resources in your program to make sure you reward the A players for their A game, whether they be top rep, distributor, seller or marketer in a store, chain or territory. It doesn’t have to be anything particularly significant or costly, just a token to show you appreciate their high class attitude and performance.