What makes a good partner when creating your sales incentive program? – Part 2

Sep 13, 2021 | Incentives & Recognition, Sales Incentives

(Continued from Part 1.) It’s important to have the right team at your side when creating and executing a successful sales incentive program. But how do you choose the right partner? Here’s what you should look for when evaluating your sales incentive program partners:

Program Design:

Program design skills, or the ability to suggest a design “refresh” based on monitoring results, is also an important component to any sales incentive program partner. Even the most successful incentive programs will need to be adjusted as your needs evolve or business conditions change. Regardless of whether you’re starting from scratch or continuing with an established program, you need a partner who understands:

  • Segmentation based on performance levels or roles. For example, do you have a sales force on staff, plus a channel-based sales arm? What are the needs of each?
  • Management support. This can make or break a sales incentive program, which is why it’s crucial to have buy-in from your management team. The right partner can help you incorporate targeted program communications, or even rewards, to help ensure management is engaged.
  • Sales incentives. Of course, you want to reward the sales team for a job well done. But what about the other members of the team who aren’t directly tied to sales? Everyone plays a role in your business success, which is why everyone should be included in your incentive program. It’s important to create a holistic experience in which everyone can participate, everyone can get motivated, and everyone can succeed. This is a win/win for your organization, clients, vendors, suppliers, etc., as it creates a cascading effect across the entire company. Not to mention, it increases overall morale and pride among your employees and channel partners. Learn more about sales incentive programs and the importance of keeping your top performers engaged here.
  • Digging into opportunities to enhance the program. Don’t only focus on motivating your top performers. You’ll get better results when you move the middle. Think of it this way, your top performers are going to perform well anyway because they are intrinsically motivated. Instead, look at the 60-70 percent of your average performers and use tactics to motivate them to participate in the program.
  • “Listening” to participants. Take the time to hear from your program participants so you can adjust the program accordingly. You can do this through traditional surveys or by reviewing the data on engagement trends, rewards preferences, customer-service inquiries, and more.


Your sales incentive program partner should complement your existing team. Whether you need a little bit of help or a lot of help, finding a partner who can flex to meet your needs is key.
If you are an experienced incentive buyer, you may only need a little help. You know what you want and you know how you want your program to run. Therefore, turn your attention to supplementary workflows or solutions that your sales incentive program partner can offer to help your program run more smoothly. For example, you may benefit from mobile-first technology that allows easy communication and reporting for all of your participants and program managers. Or, you should look for a program partner that offers ease of rewards fulfillment that includes a catalog of reward options that appeal to a variety of participants.
If you don’t have a lot of experience, look for a seasoned program management team that offers many years of service, and who can provide insight into what has worked and what hasn’t. Take a look at the tenure of your partner’s team to determine how seasoned they really are. You can also find partners with specialties in certain industries to meet your needs, such as automotive, technology, healthcare or financial – or experts in channel sales incentives in general.
Credentials are also critical. For example, do your partner’s program managers have the credentials to back up their experience? Look for partners whose teams have at least an Incentive Professional (IP) designation through the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA). This means you are working with a top-notch crew who has in-depth knowledge of the types of incentives needed to make your program successful. Professionals who carry this IP designation have undergone many hours of training and rigorous testing. They understand the psychology behind incentives and how to structure program rules. IP-designated professionals know how your incentive program fits in with your business operations, and they can plan for the intended consequences, while helping you avoid the unintended consequences.
As you embark on your journey to creating a successful sales incentive program, remember that there are experts here to help. Leveraging the right partner vs. relying on homegrown approaches can ensure you are creating and executing a sales incentive program that motivates your employees or channel partners, positively impacts your bottom line, and shows ROI.
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Tina Ferguson

Tina Ferguson