IT and technology organisations often rely on partners to sell their products, expand into otherwise unreachable markets, and increase brand recognition. However, the aims of suppliers and partner networks are rarely aligned, and partners are often also able to sell the products of your competitors. Incentive programmes can be effective in getting both parties working towards a common goal, and making partners more loyal to your brand.

That isn’t to say partner incentive programmes are challenge-free. It can, for example, be difficult to prove partner ROI, encourage partners to behave in a way you want or expect, motivate partners to participate in the programme, or stop partners from artificially increasing sales figures. However, when partner incentive programmes are properly implemented they can be used to increase sales, improve ROI and brand loyalty, and increase product knowledge among partners.

What do you want to achieve?

Successful partner incentive programmes are the result of being clear in what you want to achieve so you can work towards a specific goal. Are you looking to drive sales of a specific product? Or do you want to develop your brand in a new or existing region? Knowing this will help you develop the right programme.

Different partners want different things

Before you plan out a partner incentive programme, it’s worth remembering that not all of your partners are the same, and that they are motivated by different things. For example, if a partner is motivated by hitting financial targets, rewarding them for reaching a certain number of sales could be the most effective incentive. But what if a partner wants to build a closer relationship with you? Then it might be more effective to reward them for participating in your conferences or adopting your standard practices.

Allow partners to work towards individual goals

Individuals can be demotivated by an incentive programme in which they aren’t being rewarded for their extra effort because other team members are not pulling their weight. Rewards that focus on individual achievements can solve this problem, and also give the opportunity to vary the types of rewards based on each person’s motivations and goals.

Make the incentive programme clear and easy to understand

Partner incentive programmes are about getting partners to do certain things – increase sales, improve brand awareness, follow your brand practices, etc. – but for that to happen they need to know which metrics you are using to measure their performance so they know if they are doing what you expect of them. Your communication about the incentive programme needs to be clear from the start and preferably on an individual basis, as well as making it easy for them to monitor their own progress.

Monitor results and adapt the programme to keep it effective

When partner incentive programmes are designed well they can be incredibly effective, but not even the best programmes will stay that way forever. New partners will need different incentives than more mature partners, and you will need to keep developing new incentives to drive future growth, as well as adapting them to help you achieve changing channel growth goals. Monitor results to see what’s working, and what isn’t – even things that worked in the past might not lead to future growth.

Do you actually need to incentivise your partners?

While partner incentive programmes can be an extremely effective way for you to achieve your channel goals, you might not actually need to do it. If one of your goals is to sell a certain amount of your products, but your partners are already selling at that quantity, there will be nothing to gain from an incentive programme. Think carefully about what you want to achieve from an incentive programme before implementing one.

Get in touch

Want to know more about how partner incentive programmes can help you achieve channel growth and get your brand and products in front of more people? Feel free to get in touch.


Posted by Caroline Lotinga, Client Planning Director at MOI Global

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