Channel Incentive Program Strategies that Work

by: Luke Kreitner December 4, 2017

There are dozens of factors influencing the outcomes of channel sales and marketing. Combine that with the fact that channel incentive program technology has numerous, flexible capabilities, and you get a lot of incentive strategies to choose from. This can sometimes make it difficult to identify which incentive strategies will work for your business. It can help to understand what, exactly, businesses who run successful incentive programs are doing right. That’s why we took a close look at our most successful channel incentive program clients and identified the most effective techniques.

Here are a few channel incentive strategies taken directly from our most successful clients’ playbooks:

  • Get incentive program support from vendors.

    Some of our clients’ fruitful dealer incentive programs reached the top with a little help from their suppliers or vendors. In exchange for benefitting from their dealer’s incentive program, some vendors are willing to do the following:

    • allow their dealer to use co-op dollars or provide additional funding in order to be one of the program’s primary sponsors
    • pitch in extra funding for program participants to earn 2X or 3X bonus points when they purchase the vendor’s products
    • sponsor bonus points for training, “lunch and learn” and other special events focused on their products
    • fund reward points for customers who use our survey tool for feedback on the vendors’ products

    The great thing about a channel incentive company is that your vendor partners can benefit from it too! When our clients team up with their suppliers, it often increases the program’s value for everyone involved.

  • Remember your channel incentive program should be fun and exciting!

    A channel incentive program isn’t just another droll business tool. Channel rewards are fun! They’re prizes and displays of appreciation for loyalty and hard work. They should bring out the kid-in-the-carnival in everyone. Many of our most successful clients are those who take fun very seriously and tap into that childlike delight. They hold raffles and contests that kick their channel incentive programs off with a bang. They throw their creativity and enthusiasm into lively marketing campaigns that excite and entice participants with rewards. Some have even shot funny commercials and recruited celebrity spokespeople.

  • Leverage daily trivia incentive technology.

    One of our most successful clients uses our Daily Trivia feature to capture frequent program engagement. This keeps their channel incentive program and their company top of mind with participants.

    The content of Daily Trivia questions and answers is completely up to clients. Creating product or service-related trivia content not only provides participants with a fun reason to check into the incentive program regularly, they can brush up on their training and product knowledge at the same time.

  • Double up with customer retention and purchase incentives.

    Many of our clients who have thriving channel incentive programs adopt a two-pronged approach. Their program’s purpose is one part customer retention, one part purchase incentives.

    The customer retention portion of the program targets clients’ best customers. Although some may feel like business from their best customers is a given, the competition is constantly knocking on their door. A good channel incentive program helps put up a fence around customers, making it more difficult for the competition to lure them away.

    The purchase incentives portion is more about gaining than retaining. “Very few companies are capturing 100% of a customer’s business,” says Jeff Cagle, Director of Sales at Incentive Solutions. “So there’s always room for growth especially with the middle 60%, who are neither best nor worst customers.” Because your middle majority has the greatest growth potential, you should focus your efforts on growing their business by offering bonus points on high-margin items, motivating them to purchase across your entire product offering.

  • Define specific goals and sales promotions.

    To get the best results, we always suggest our clients to implement channel incentive programs with highly specific goals. Taking this advice to heart helped one of our clients, Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, win Incentive magazine’s Motivation Masters award!

    Mitsubishi Electric decided to target specifically contractors who sold their ductless HVAC units. Their incentive program ended up blowing their expectations out of the water, driving a 45% increase in ductless units and reaching an ROI of over 300%!

  • Use incentive travel and corporate event management services.

    Incentive trips are the ultimate rewards. Their appeal includes experiencing a different and exotic location (even a local hot-spot can be exotic compared to gathering in another office building conference room), forging stronger bonds in a no-pressure environment, enjoying recreational group activities, network and sharing sales and channel marketing insights. Those who invest in incentive travel rarely regret it—according to Oxford Economics, well-managed incentive trips yield a 4:1 return on investment.

    What’s even better than hosting an incentive trip? Hosting an incentive trip with the help of incentive travel event management services. Our most successful clients take advantage of our incentive travel expertise and end up thrilled with the results.

    “For one of our most successful incentive trips,” says Incentive Solutions’ Travel Services Director, Deven Crane, “we reclaimed a 16% VAT for holding a corporate meeting in Mexico, which saved over $30,000.”

    We offer a full range of trip and event coordination services, but in particular, our contract and fee negotiation skills help clients avoid unnecessary costs and reach an even higher incentive travel ROI.

And there you have it—a few tried-and-true channel incentive strategies that really work, and continue boosting business for our most successful clients!
The world of channel incentive programs is relatively new and ever-evolving with today’s expanding online technology possibilities. Business and channel marketing are ever-growing, too. That means the definition of a “successful channel incentive program” will always be changing. No incentive strategy will work for every business. But identifying tactics, benchmarks and ROI can help today’s B2B businesses make the most of their incentive programs.


About Luke Kreitner

Luke Kreitner is the VP of Sales at Incentive Solutions, an Atlanta-based incentive company that specializes in helping B2B businesses accelerate growth, increase sales, motivate channel partners and retain B2B customers.