Creating a S.M.A.R.T. and successful incentives program
As a channel marketer, the main reason for initiating an incentives program is likely to be increasing turnover, targeting specific products and encouraging your channel partners to complete more trainings. But how do you do it?
Whether it is recruiting, communicating, training, engaging or retaining, channel marketing is all about partner relationship management (PRM). Therefore, most of the campaign will run over your PRM portal.
Communication is key to the success of your rewards program, so spice it up. How about introducing a dedicated microsite or using a variety of communication tools such as brochures, direct marketing by email or even a personal letter?
Reward programs can fail before they get started if resellers don’t have a clear understanding of how they can earn awards or accumulate points. Earning payouts, achievements, and rewards should be clear and specific.
But communication is not just about the launch. Keep your partners informed on how they are doing both individually as well as how the overall incentives scheme is running. This will help keep your resellers interested and engaged. Once the incentives program has ended, be sure to communicate results.
Many rewards programs will have a clear start and end date so that your resellers know how long they have to achieve their goals. On average, a sales incentive runs for six to eight weeks. As the program progresses, be sure to leverage captured data to fine-tune your campaign to monitor changing conditions and make informed adjustments. This will drive partner engagement and keep the program moving forward.
If you have a specific target in mind, such as increasing sales by 10% or getting partners excited about a new product launch, then setting targets should be pretty straightforward. Just bear in mind that all targets should be measurable, and they must be both challenging and achievable.
Incentives programs that promote continuous training, loyalty or long-term growth can be more effective if run over a 12-week period or even more. A great companion to these programs are pre-paid branded credit cards. Over time, these rewards can really add up.
As far as budgeting is concerned, the main expenses will be setting up your PRM portal and, of course, how much you want to spend on the incentives themselves. Determine what type of rewards make sense for the campaign. A typical incentives program offers vouchers, merchandise, special offers or prepayment cards.
One cost that is often overlooked is tax and national insurance contributions. Working closely with the relevant authorities, Aximpro has designed an all-in-one software program that is agile enough to reflect the individual tax requirements within the different legal and tax frameworks of each country in the EMEA region, and is powerful enough to cover every step of the way.
A coming trend is adding gamification to channel partner incentives programs. Whereas typical incentives tap into people’s desire to win a reward, gamification taps into people’s need for recognition, achievement and success. Since prizes are limited to a definable number of top players, they are calculable. Be creative, instead of offering vouchers and such, how about enticing your channel partners with pamper or experience days, or incentives travel?
Now that the incentives program is completed, you need to take stock. Did you achieve your targets? What worked well, what didn’t? The answers are measurable. Your business intelligence software will make it easy to measure sales, costs, etc. However, softer targets such as sales prospecting and presentation should be logged throughout the incentive.
The best measure of the program is feedback – both from partners who participated in the incentives program and those who didn’t. This will give you an honest appraisal of the target criteria, duration, communication and rewards.
With summer just a few months off, this could be a good time to run an incentives campaign. So get going!