A handheld screwdriver can do all the things an 8-amp power drill can—they’re both adept at putting screws into walls.
But the similarities end there. Putting together a deck with just a screwdriver would take an incredible amount of time and patience. Throw a power drill into the mix and you’ll get it done in an eighth of the time with much less effort (and wrist pain).
The old way of doing channel sales incentives—without a focus on data-driven, gradual optimization—is like that screwdriver. Sure, it works, but there are ways to amp up your program in a big way.
Follow these channel sales incentive best practices to get the most out of your program.
1. Clearly Defined Objectives
Without a destination in mind, it’s impossible to get where you’re headed. Your channel sales incentive program is the same. It’s not enough to say “sell more.” How much more? And to whom?
Accordingly, clearly defined objectives are imperative for the success of your incentive program. Don't begin anything without a clear definition of success. And not just success for you—the overarching corporate goals you’re looking to achieve—but for your participants and executive stakeholders.
Understand your organization’s goals and connect them to your program's tactics. For example, if the goal of your incentive is around specific markets or product lines, how can your initiative segment the message and rewards to align with those broader, corporate goals? Or, if you're launching training or certification initiatives, how can you leverage those as a qualifier for your traditional incentives or SPIFFs?
Here’s a shocking fact: the number one reason channel incentive programs fail to meet objectives lies with cuts and reduction in communication.
Your objectives can be crystal clear, but if no one hears about your incentive program, it runs the risk of falling flat. If you don’t articulate and promote your objectives in emotional, motivating communications that resonate with your team, your team won’t meet their objectives.
More than that, if your program pays out and your participants aren’t quite sure why, it's a waste of money.
Communications focus the behavior of participants and they add purpose and meaning to their work. They should generate the energy and excitement necessary to ask for your participants’ effort.
3. Collect Data
Similar to communication, data collection throughout your program helps promote its longevity. And it all begins with your definition of success.
To create a thriving incentive channel program, make certain the numbers you need to prove program impact are easily attainable. When your program’s quantifiable data is right at your fingertips, you can track important figures and prove program impact to stakeholders.
Smartphones and the internet have changed business immeasurably, and channel incentives are no different. What data exists today that didn't a few years ago, and how could that be leveraged today to define ideal behaviors and program success?
4. Program Life Cycle
So now you’ve got the data. It’s a good idea to put it to use to optimize your channel sales incentive program for short term goals. But it’s an even better idea to use it for the life cycle of your program—next year and the year after.
When you collect data with an emphasis on the life cycle of your incentive, you ensure it remains healthy for the long run. And now that it’s running, remember to think in terms of onboarding rather than just launch. Consider leaving a base, steady program throughout the course of a year and strategically sprinkling in spurts or bursts of communication, earnings and awards when you anticipate a slump.
The growth impact a well-communicated, data-focused channel sales incentive can have on a company’s profitability, year after year, is enormous. Take these best practices into consideration and generate the powerful, results-driven output you need.
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