In B2B, Incentive Program Planning, Sales Incentives

A channel sales strategy provides your business with the ability to get your product in front of the right consumer.

Through the use of resellers, distributors, value-added providers, and other types of channel partners, you’re not only able to gain massive reach, but you also lower sales, marketing, and distribution costs scale effectively and expand into new markets at a relatively low cost–tough benefits to pass up.

While the use of channel partners has “pros”, there is one major “con” you can’t ignore. Your partner has products and solutions from other manufacturers (a.k.a, your competitors) that they’re also selling.

For this reason, it’s important to understand, develop, and implement some type of incentive system that encourages your partner and their sales representatives to sell your product over another. In order to gain your partner’s attention and brand loyalty, you must strive to create an incentive plan that both you and your partner agree on, along with a system to help manage it.

When it comes to creating a program that incentivizes your partners to sell your product, consider these tactics.

How To Develop An Effective Partner Incentive Program

Offer a Competitive Incentive

“Referral marketing” can drive big results for your business, especially in today’s buying and selling climate. That’s why it’s more important now than ever to offer your partners a generous incentive that will motivate them to push, refer, and sell your product.

Whether you offer a cash award for each percentage of new business, a sales discount, or a flat rate award for each sale, ensure the incentive you offer your partner is competitive.

Keep The Incentive Simple

Don’t over complicate your partner incentive program. The easier you make it for your partners to sell your product and complete your incentive program the better.

Clearly explain to your partners the goal of the program, how they can track their progress, and how they can obtain their award.

Maintain Consistent Incentive Terms and Conditions

Frequent changes to the terms and conditions of your incentive program can confuse your partner and complicate the relationship. In order for your partners to develop the kind of brand loyalty that sells your product, they need to know how your program works and trust that it will stay that way.

Escalate Your Incentives

The concept behind escalating incentives is relatively straightforward: the more a partner sells, the greater the reward.

Through an escalating incentive strategy, you can set achievement bars that allow your partners to achieve a certain status when they reach a goal and reward them with the appropriate bonus incentive. If you’re looking to keep existing partners motivated and bringing you more clients, an escalating incentive strategy would work well.

Consider Different Types of Awards

Monetary awards are a common type of incentive used to motivate action, but don’t let that deter you from exploring other forms of awards.

Here are a few non-monetary award ideas that can be just as effective:

  • A physical gift
  • Feature in your newsletter
  • Personal “thank you” from your CEO or another top executive
  • Invitation to a company event
  • A special trip

Support Your Partners With A Customer Incentive Program

As we’ve discussed up until now, a partner incentive program can motivate your partners and sales reps to sell more of your product. But consider what a customer incentive program would do for your partners’ ability to sell more of your product. It would certainly add to your partners’ ability to sell your product if they could incentivize their customers to purchase your product.

Customer incentives include:

  • Customer rebate
  • Gift card or eGift (the digital version a gift card)
  • Prepaid incentive cards
  • Instant gifts
  • VIP access

If you’re still not sure how to make your channel incentive program perform, read more about incentive programs here.

Now that you’re aware of how to create an incentive program that will effectively incentivize your partners to sell your product, we can cover the various types of partner incentives.

Types Of Partner Incentives


It’s important to build and maintain a strong relationship with your end sellers. A SPIFF or Sales Program Incentive Fund can be a great way to incentivize your partners’ individual sales representatives while also adding value to your relationship with them.

With a SPIFF program, you can incentivize individuals on your partners’ sales team to promote your products over others with a promised award. SPIFFs have proven to be highly effective in encouraging salespeople to strive for a short-term goal while at the same time, not discounting your product.

A SPIFF program may be the motivation your partners’ sales representatives need to go above and beyond for your product.

Solution Development Fund

A solution development fund can be used to sponsor your partners’ “proof-of-concept” or demo of your product. Often times, both you and your partners will invest in a solution development fund as both parties benefit. If your product’s concept requires your partners to “demo”, this type of incentive may be worth suggesting.

MDF (Marketing Development Fund) and COOP (Cooperative Marketing Fund)

Both MDF and COOP funds are marketing-based incentives used to spread brand awareness. A COOP is typically a percentage of a rebate that is matched by you (the vendor or manufacturer) to achieve a marketing goal cooperatively. An MDF is given to a partner to drive marketing activities.

Deal Registration

Deal registration rewards a partner for early identification of opportunity and then pays the partner a set percentage of every deal registered or closed by that partner.

B2B Rebate Program

Rebates are strategic, volume-driven promotions that encourage your B2B partners to sell more of your product because they get a percentage of the sale back.

A rebate program can increase your sales and strengthen existing sales channel partner relationships. But many companies and manufacturers aren’t sure where to start when it comes to implementing a rebate program.

If you’re asking questions like “what is a rebate program?”, “how do I set up a rebate program?”, and “do I have the manpower to create, sustain, and fulfill a rebate program?”, you may consider outsourcing your rebate program.

The way your incentive program is organized and managed can have a direct impact on its success–outsourcing is often the best bet, as we both know you have more important things do.

At Incentive Insights, we offer highly flexible rebate program processing and fulfillment services to meet the needs of companies just like yours.

Discover the Incentive Insights difference. 

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