Let’s look at how incentives align to the partner journey and partner personas: starting at the offer stage. What should you include in your offer to executive management? Typically, when it comes to incentives, executive management at the partner level must look at revenue/performance achievement incentives. They look at market development funds (MDF); they look at rebates. That is a minimum requirement from a partner—an executive management partner—during the offer stage.
Once it comes to qualification, the tech lead, sales and marketing leads want to know how those rebates are earned and if they are stackable or not. They want to know—especially sales management—if deal registration part of the program. Is there certification/specialization that needs to happen? That is a question that will come from the tech lead.
Now when we enter the commitment stage, this is where MBO type incentives and revenue performance incentives become important. Also, a big driver on the commitment stage is launch funds. So, you're offering MDF, but you need to be more specific to the sales and marketing leads at the partner level that you have dedicated funds for launching this relationship, that you have dedicated funds for onboarding velocity as well.
During the investment and enablement is where points-based incentives become really important because you're going to be talking to a wide audience at the partner level. You will want to engage them on the points-based rewards program that is going to align all the different activities that the partners need to complete, and you're going to reward them for activities and behaviors not necessarily transactions.
And last but not least, the productivity stage when a partner is already active and trying to be productive. Deal registrations, MDF, Co-Op, lead reporting, spiffs: these are all important incentives in that partner relationship. We've been hearing for years that the channel is coin operated and indeed it is, and you must give channel partner individuals a reason for choosing your product over those of the competition.
Now again, two major stages: the recruitment and onboarding content, and then the incentive. This is a real incentive spend that you need to engage in.
In the beginning it is all about content. It's all about talking about what you're going to offer and how you will support partners through incentives. But when you get into the last two stages, the enablement/investment stage and the productivity stage, now you must be able to serve up all those incentives in a way that it's cohesive.
You’ll most likely start with onboarding velocity. You're going to get into certification and specialization, once that partner is enabled and ready to go. Then demand creation incentives, early opportunity registration incentives: they're all important. And believe me, it's not about putting all these one after the other. It's an understanding of where there is friction, and you need to lubricate that aspect of your relationship with the partner.
And so, the objective here is to align those incentives, right? Those leading indicators to the last two stages of the partner journey.
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