How to incent individuals within a partner organization?

Claudio Ayub

When using a points-based rewards program to motivate behavior changes, how do you incent a partner organization, but also direct the incentives to the partner’s individual sales team without the partner management interfering?

You can direct incentives at the individual sales rep and sales engineer level without the partner’s objecting to it, by aligning your rewards program to the partners’ sales strategies and business model. The fact is that most large partner organizations are disinclined to do business with any supplier or vendor that interferes with their sales strategies. So, you must develop an understanding of your different partner types and business models, as different partner types require different motivators, and incentives must align to the selected partner business model to achieve aligned success.

It’s essential to win the support of partner executives for any individual rewards program. There are certain partner types (Direct Market Resellers, Large Account Resellers) where participation should be approved by the partner as a company-wide initiative – not a self-started effort by individual reps who seek rewards.

Start by profiling your partners and then building different incentive programs according to those profiles, in alignment with the partner profile and business model. The second thing you can do, and we do this very often, is combine company level incentives with individual level incentives. A perfect example of this model occurs when you combine a rebate program that is driving the partner company in alignment with individual level incentives, again, in alignment with partner company incentives.

By aligning partner company, team, and individual level incentives you’re telling the partner, “Hey Mr. Partner, here’s your goal, here’s your stretch goal, here’s what you’re going to earn. Oh, and we’re going to put your sales team behind those exact same goals to ensure you reach and exceed them, by way of individual level incentives. By the way, it is a condition for rebate program participation, to allow your sales reps and sales engineers to participate in the rewards program.”

Unfortunately, we still see many suppliers go to market with a “one-size-fits-all” incentive for everyone that isn’t necessarily aligned to the partner’s go-to-market model. If you think of your partner ecosystems, what motivates a volume reseller versus a systems integrator are very, very different things.

We typically see partner organizations putting up the red tape when there isn’t alignment. It’s important to discuss your incentive programs with your partners and understand your partner types.  You might need to adapt your incentives to the partner type; move away from this one-size-fits-all; and understand your partner’s business model. Then if you have incentives that align to their business model, it’s very difficult for the partner company to put up barriers.


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About the Author

Claudio Ayub

Chief Strategy Officer Claudio Ayub brings over 20 years of global channel marketing experience to Perks.He has executed major go-to-market programs for a variety of vendors, including Bing, Cisco, Dell, EMC, IBM, Kaspersky, Lenovo, Microsoft, Motorola, Seagate, Symantec, and VMware among others.

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