What guidelines do you recommend for selecting incentive types that will best influence desired partner behavior?
As is the case with any incentive plan design, you start by understanding your audience.
Consider your partners and determine which partner types are in the best position to achieve the target results aligned to your channel objectives. Not all of your partners are going to fit the criteria; look at your different partner profiles and business models to determine just which ones can get the job done.
Follow this selection process by aligning incentives to the chosen partners’ business models. A SMB reseller will be motivated by something different than a large account reseller or a VAR; you need to align incentives to that unique partner’s business model.
Next identify the different personas you want to incent within the partner company. When you're thinking about driving behavior, it's really about the people and not about the partner company. You need to know who you want to incent. Is it a sales rep? Is it a sales engineer? Is it the marketing person?
Once you understand the who, you are ready to lay out the how. For this you will need map out each partner’s sales cycle and segment your incentives accordingly.
You start to build your partner sales cycle by looking at each partner type’s demand generation, lead management, and opportunity management activities. Then compare your partner’s sales processes to your buyer’s journey models to see how it aligns. The single most critical thing a vendor can do to compete more effectively today, in collaboration with their partners, is to understand and address the needs of the new buyer, the customer.
In mapping the sales cycle, you'll see that you can define each of the phases as an area where you can incentivize behaviors that will accelerate a partner’s time to revenue.
- Demand generation = enablement
- Sales, marketing, and product training
- Through-partner marketing
- Lead management = pre-sales
- Lead follow up
- Deal registration
- Appointment setting
- Opportunity management = post-sales
- Renewals and additional subscriptions
Once you’ve made your list of behaviors, tag each at the individual level, at the team level, or the company level. What does that mean? It means that if you're going to get somebody accredited, how do you incent them? How do you influence them? For example, if you want to convince a sales rep to go take sales training on your specific product, you need to reward him, not the company. The company's not going to make the individual go get that done. However, an activity like technical certification might be tied to a company-level incentive like MDF. Let’s say you require your partner to have a minimum of four techs certified in your solution before the company can access MDF. The tagging will be specific to the partner type, which is why you start by assessing your audience.
To recap, get to know your partners and the personas that work at the partner company. Next segment the partner’s sales cycle and list the activities within the segments that you want to change. Tag the behaviors at the individual, team, or company level. Then and only then, you can overlay the type of program you want to use to influence specific behaviors.
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