5 Major Channel Program Faux-pas: Part 1

By Anna Sophie Gross Apr 27, 2016

Here at Fielo we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen companies adopt channel incentive programs and flourish and we’ve seen hashed attempts crumble to the ground. So we thought we’d draw up a list of the most common and perilous mistakes we’ve watched companies make, to help ensure you steer clear of them and can sail smoothly towards success.

This week we’ll be covering five no-gos when it comes to designing your strategy and next week we’ll be unearthing common errors in promoting, monitoring and measuring the program once it’s up and running. We hope you find them useful and incorporate them into your strategy.

1. Not getting participant information

Getting feedback from participants means you can tailor your program to the wants and needs of your target audience, and if you keep soliciting useful information you can adapt and perfect the program while it’s live. If your strategy is developed based on suggestions given to you by prospective participants, you’ll also create an emotional “buy-in” effect. Partners will feel as though their contribution mattered (which it did) – they’ll feel part of the whole thing, meaning greater involvement, engagement and loyalty.

2. Vague objectives

It’s essential that your incentive program is defined around clear and measurable goals – the more specific the better. “Increase sales”, “greater customer loyalty” and “more lead generation” are all catchphrases which literally any company would subscribe to. You need to remove those kind of vagueries from your program plan if you want it to have any kind of credibility. To reach targets you need to have clear and specific targets otherwise you’re just floating around in mid-air.

That means you need figures and statistics, based on analysis of past performance and forecasts for the future. If you want to increase sales, by how much exactly? Over what time frame? From which specific groups? Ask all of these questions, and many more, to make sure you provide solid answers. Remember that these targets will enable you to measure program success later down the line, which is really important when it comes to justifying your work to investors and stakeholders.

3. Unclear rules

One of the biggest turn-offs when it comes to incentive programs is a lack of clarity. Participants want to know exactly what’s needed of them so that they can get the rewards they’re so keen to get their hands on. If the program has too many complex stages and qualifications it will ultimately turn your target audience away and send them straight into the arms of your competitors.

4. Only rewarding sales

As we’ve discussed in previous blog posts, a serious trap that companies fall into again and again is following the (non)logic that the only way to increase revenue is by increasing sales, and the only way to increase sales is by incentivizing and rewarding them. Company logistics are much more complex and multifaceted than this kind of thinking gives them credit for – if they were that simple, every Tom, Dick and Hannah would be a millionaire by now.

We advocate that instead of simply rewarding sales, you follow the incentive engineering model, where channels are guided towards pre and post sale behaviors like making phone calls, deal registration, collecting customer information and attending training. These activities have a huge number of benefits for companies, including increased loyalty, higher ROI and an incremental increase in sales.

5. Making it dull

Picture a channel incentive program where Value-added-resellers (VARs) have to make 20 deal registrations to get 10 points towards a pre-determined reward. Well, just about anyone can make 20 deal registrations if you give them enough time. Where’s the struggle? Where’s the time constraint? Where’s the competition?

The golden key to program engagement is injecting a bit of competitive fun. Make activities enjoyable by adding gamification elements, and by pitting participants against one another using a Leaderboard. Everyone loves a good game and it’s rare to find people who aren’t drawn in at all by the healthy desire to outdo their peers. Tap into that natural competitive drive and you’ll be sure to generate a strong work ethic, improve morale and increase sales across your channel ecosystem.

Make sure you invest time in obtaining rich participant information and mapping out the rules and intricacies of your channel program to ensure it has maximum impact on performance.

Next week we’ll be covering 5 more classic faux-pas when it comes to monitoring, measuring and promoting the program, so stay tuned!

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