For B2B organizations, channel partnerships are a strategic, mutually beneficial relationships that help drive sales, increase market share, and grow their businesses. These partnerships provide a competitive advantage, which is why channel incentive programs have become more widely used as effective ways for managing and growing these partner relationships. In order to make a channel incentive program truly successful, each program needs to incorporate three aspects into its overall design and structure: communication, simplicity, and effective processing.
Like every good relationship, communication is key. Every successful partner relationship is a transparent one with open lines of communication between channel partners. A successfully communication strategy for incentive programs usually has a least three main areas:
Promoting Your Program
Before anything else, you need to promote your program to your current and potential partners. Your program is useless to your partners if they never know it even exists. Promote and market your incentive program to your partners directly and in all the major digital and offline communication channels your partners use - whether that’s through trade publications, LinkedIn, email, or simply picking up the telephone.
Explain Program Benefits
The second big communication item is ensuring partners know program details — how the program operates, the different benefits and perks offered, and the requirements or qualifications they need to meet to receive certain rewards. This information is critical to ensuring partners can fully utilize your program, so it's important to make this information easy to find and understand.
As we said before, open communication - that is, back and forth communication between yourself and your channel partners - is the key to successful relationships. It’s important to have communication channels where your partners can communicate back with you, either through regularly scheduled reviews, feedback surveys and questionnaires, or other methods. By having open communication lines with your partners you can understand how your program is being received, develop improvements to increase program usage, and potentially prevent program abandonment by dissatisfied partners.
Like with B2C loyalty programs, complexity is a huge detriment to the health of channel incentive programs. If your incentive program is packed with complicated rules and structures, and partner goals are unattainable, your partners won’t fully utilize the program and you’ll lose out on creating valuable partnerships. Channel partners are busy organizations and people - the easier it is to understand program requirements and goals, the happier they’ll be.
Considering that a partner management strategy not only varies between sectors and industries, but also has to incorporate different organizational hierarchies each with their own processes, styles, and workflows, keeping your program simple can appear daunting task. The trick is to not attempt a one-size-fits-all approach, but to tailor your program based on your specific partner segments. Customizing the goals and expectations to individual partners and clearly communicating who is responsible for what will help your program run smoother and more effectively.
3. Timely Processing and Payments
One of the main wishes from channel partners is to receive their program rewards or payments consistently and accurately. A big frustration among channel partners is when incentive payments are late or full of mistakes that need to be rectified, leading to further delays. This is why it’s important to utilize a channel incentive platform that automates your incentive submissions and processing and makes it easy and simpler for partners to receive their rewards for meeting their goals. Your incentive program is meant to build valuable relationships among your channel partners, and frequently delayed or inaccurate incentive payments can negatively impact your partner relationships and industry reputation.
Developing a successful incentive program starts at the beginning - understanding the objectives of your program, what steps you want channel partners to take, and how your program will get you there. The specific format, rules, and features of your program will vary based on factors such as industry and budget; but no matter what, your channel incentive program will benefit from having effective communication channels, simple process and rules, and consistent incentive payouts.
To learn more about how we help companies design, build, and optimize successful channel incentive programs, contact us today!