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What Makes a Kick-Ass Channel Incentive?

Ed Anderson-Stewart 09-Nov-2023 09:53:24
What makes a Channel Incentive, Kick Ass?

Defining Quality in Tech Channel Incentives

It’s all well and good to say there are lots of crap channel incentives out there in the Tech Channel, but what makes a good one?

Everyone gets the channel model… It’s a no-brainer… It’s proven… But, it’s also uber-competitive for vendors.

Channel incentives are the best way to increase channel revenue, raise brand awareness, and propel your company to the top of your channel partners’ preferred vendor list. But not if they’re crap! Don’t be remembered for all the wrong reasons, instead become a legend for delivering a Kick-Ass Channel Incentive that hits all the right spots with your target audience.

Start at the End

Invest time and effort in setting, and scrutinising, the goal of your incentive and work your way back from there.

Identify and understand your channel personnel and the objectives and behaviours that will deliver the goal. Taking shortcuts or making assumptions at this stage will set you on the wrong path. Sounds obvious but so few companies do this. 

Core Incentive Types

The core incentive types that yield the best results are:

Deal Registration (DR)

Grow DRs by 35% and more.

Build a strong pipeline by clearly defining the focus of your qualified opportunities such as net new, existing accounts, new market, new product, etc…   

Sales Accelerator

You can achieve upwards of a 30% increase in revenue.

Drive an uplift in revenue by focusing channel sales teams on the right deals to close.


Drive certification attainment up by at least 50%.

Up-skill sales, pre-sales and technical teams across your channel by maxing out the ROI on your existing training investments. Increase certifications, improve your partners’ capabilities and challenge them to drive up conversion rates. In short: future-proof your business! 

Rising Stars

Create custom channel incentives for your highest potential partners by incentivising them to get skilled up, execute joint marketing campaigns and create pipeline with net new logos.

Get Your Data Ducks in a Row

Make sure the data you need to power the incentive - and measure the results - is available, accessible and in the right format. Access to the right information is imperative. All too often the data question is an after-thought!

Let's be clear - you cannot run an effective incentive if you don't have the data to track progress and measure success at your fingertips.

Don’t rely on after-the-fact analysis to discern if your incentive has been a success or not! By then it’s far too late! 

Dot the ‘I’s and Cross the ‘T’s

We all know channel partners can be cheeky. So, to ensure you don’t get anyone trying to push the boundaries and claim rewards that they aren’t entitled to, you need to create a clear set of terms and conditions.

Write them in plain English (or plain local language) and then make sure you stick to them. Your channel partners can be a chatty bunch, and if you make an exception by rewarding one partner rep despite missing an incentive requirement, you may be setting a dangerous precedent. Before you know it, you’ll have opened the floodgates to the entire sales team at that partner - and potentially the rest of your channel! You’ll also leave yourself wide open to partners testing the boundaries for future incentives.

Make a Bang!

Once you’ve established the right goals, have the right data and have a clear set of T&Cs you’ve got to launch your incentive. The channel is a noisy place, you’ll need to create an initial impact to secure mindshare and participation.

If your incentive really is going to kick-ass, then it's got to land with your channel big time! It must be seen, heard, understood, compelling and achievable!  Here’s how you make a bang.  

Create a Theme

Devise a creative theme that resonates with the audience and differentiates you from the competition. Make it different so it stands out.

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)!

Make your incentive easy to understand. Participants should be able to quickly establish what they need to do to take part and win a prize. If it’s confusing or complex they’ll switch off and won’t bother.  

Create a Launch Plan

Map out the best way to get your incentive in front of your target audience and work out an end-to-end timing plan for each element.


Schedule ongoing comms for the duration of the incentive to maintain high visibility.


Make sure the assets you create to support your incentive are high quality and align with your creative theme. If your incentive runs over a few months or is a full-year programme, it can be helpful to provide an incentive guide.  

Make it Easy for Participants to Track Their Progress  

Make sure that all participants know how to check their progress quickly and easily. Doing this will drive up engagement, increase competitiveness and improve results – both theirs and yours!   

Any progress tracker needs to be accessible, concise and visually appealing. After all, you want your channel partners focused on the target, not struggling to decipher their incentive numbers! If you give them a quick and easy way to see where they are, you're on to a winner. Even better, show them where they are versus the competition, while still honouring data privacy requirements of course.

Maintain Senior Visibility  

Just as you need to with incentive participants, you must keep your internal stakeholders well informed! Provide regular status updates and reporting which clearly communicate the impact that the incentive is having and the numbers it is driving.   Obviously, the KPIs and numbers will vary with each incentive, but the same principle applies: tell your success story and back it up with evidence.

Don’t Forget About Your Prizes and Payouts

Often forgotten are the rewards and prizes themselves! Know your audience, and tailor the rewards to them. If you’re not sure, you could ask them - canvas their opinions. But even then, there’s lots to think about when choosing the right reward.  Do they need to be sustainable? Are there any geographic delivery issues you’ll need to overcome?  Are you opting for e-gifts or physical goods? Are you offering a fixed prize, or do you want to provide winners with a choice?  There’s lots to think about and be prepared to provide timely fulfilment of prizes to your winners – no one likes to be kept waiting once they have won!

If you create an outstanding incentive programme but drop the ball getting rewards out to participants who've earned them, you are going to undo all your hard work. Your participants will remember one thing: "I didn't get what I earned... I'm not impressed!" Conversely, if they receive their rewards shortly after the incentive concludes they'll be thinking, "Wow, these guys are good! Definitely going to work with them again!"   

Easier Said Than Done

Running an incentive is not easy. There's a lot of stuff to do, lots of moving parts, and plenty that can go wrong. But the rewards are significant if you get it right.  An incentive is the best way to drive channel performance, grow pipeline, increase revenue, expand mindshare and differentiate yourself within your channel and in the market!       

If you are wrestling with how to activate your channel, struggling to deliver effective channel incentives or want to explore Kick-Ass Channel Incentives for the first time, book a demo today!