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Channel Rewards Programs for the New Digital Buyer

December 1, 2017 Perks WW Channel Experts

Channel Rewards Programs for the New Digital Transformation Era

Channel Rewards Programs for the New Digital Transformation Era

Can your channel rewards program keep up with the digital transformation? Points-based rewards drive the partner behavior changes necessary to align with new digital buyer.

Digital transformation—the displacement of traditional methods by digital technology processes—is affecting every sector across every industry on a global scale. Enterprise organizations have never experienced this level of upheaval before, and established brands are scrambling to either update or replace IT systems before they are overtaken by disruptive brands that are leveraging digital strategies.

This drastic change has had a significant effect on the channel ecosystem: partner companies aren’t keeping pace with the new digital transformation, and their sales processes aren’t aligned with the digitally-connected buyer’s journey.

Accelerating the digital transformation of partner businesses requires new skillsets and partner companies that are willing to both adapt and evolve. Cultivating partner loyalty during this time warrants a new vision and new approaches to partner engagement and incentives.

In a recent SiriusDecisions study of partners’ sales processes, only 12% of respondents stated that they have modified their sales process to align with the new, digitally-connected buyer’s journey.

It’s Time to Reevaluate How You Model and Design Your Channel Rewards Program

Points-based rewards incentive programs boast a long history and widespread adoption in the channel. They are one of the most effective ways to drive partner engagement and behavior change at the organizational, team, and/or individual levels.

In the new digital age, it is wise to provide a mix of individual-, team-, and company-level rewards to motivate your partners and their teams to initiate transformation. This can be achieved by combining company-level and individual/team-level incentives into a single program that is built around your partners’ sales cycles

 “You must align your incentive promotions with your partners’ business models, sales processes, and compensation plans.”

By consolidating and aligning individual-, team-, and company-level skills, behaviors, and activities with incentives, you can ensure that all stakeholders derive tangible benefits through earning and redemption opportunities that align with your partners’ business models and generate the desired shift in partner behavior.

When you set up and/or optimize a points-based incentive program, start by defining the strategy, goals, and objectives. This will ensure and clearly communicate the program’s alignment with the overall channel objectives. Defining is followed by identifying all the specific skills, behaviors, and activities that you want to encourage through your channel.

Keep in mind that partner organizations are disinclined to do business with any vendor that interferes with their sales strategies. You must align your incentive promotions with your partners’ business models, sales processes, and compensation plans.


The days of only offering transaction-based incentives are over.

Today, it’s all about behavior-based incentives. Best practice vendor organizations are moving away from rewarding partner reps solely for finish-line results. Instead, they are rewarding desired actions that are taken at different sales cycle stages, where a change in partner behavior is desired. Program goals may include driving portal usage, motivating reps to learn buyer’s journey models and stages, using specific content and tools to engage the new buyer, and encouraging activities that are focused on lead management (lead reporting, opportunity registration, qualification, etc.) and/or pipeline status updates. In addition, top vendors are also rewarding partners for specific achievements at the bottom of the funnel (upgrades, upselling, cross-selling, renewals, closed/won business in new buying centers, etc.).

Not everyone is motivated in the same way.

The most successful channel incentives programs are specifically tailored to the intended audience. It is important to assess participants’ demographics to choose the type of reward that will motivate them. For global incentives, you must address regional and cultural factors that affect what is perceived as a valuable reward. You should also combine rewards with recognition elements (e.g., top-performer awards and leader/scoreboards) for greater success.

A successful rewards program should be based on an understanding of the participants’ values and the creation of tools that motivate and inspire. Providing choices other than cash creates an emotional attachment, while cash is an unemotional reward that gets forgotten when spent like a salary. For the greatest success, align individual incentives (the latest electronics, sports equipment, experiences, travel, gift cards, etc.) with your partners’ company-level incentives and business models.

Although points-based rewards incentive programs cannot compensate for the absence of a differentiated or competitively superior offering, they are effective as part of a holistic incentive strategy that is designed to improve partner engagement at both the organizational and individual levels.


Recognize that a successful sale is the result of a string of productive activities and develop your channel incentives program accordingly. You provide training videos, generate demand, send MQLs to partners to convert to SALs, provide registration opportunities, reward partners for closed deals, and offer additional subscriptions and renewals. In today’s gamified model, partners’ teams should earn recognition and benefits (points) for all those activities and behaviors!


About the Author

Perks WW Channel Experts

Perks WW Channel provides services and software to help you engage your B2B and indirect channel partners to improve sales effectiveness. With a listing on the Salesforce AppExchange and a global user base exceeding 9.25 million users, Perks WW Channel takes the guesswork out of channel incentives and loyalty programs. Our solutions empower leading global enterprises with the sales and marketing programs they need to produce a competitive advantage through their indirect sales channels. The available solution set encompasses the three most critical areas to optimize indirect channel performance: marketing enablement, incentive management and global managed services. We provide these services to some of the most influential companies in the world, all backed and supported by years of expertise and our Science of Motivation™ methodology.

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