Points-Based Channel Rewards

Best Practices and Checklist

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What is the problem?

The digital transformation of partner businesses requires new skillsets and partner companies that are willing to both adapt and evolve.

Moreover, digital transformation is disrupting existing channel financial and incentive models, which impact every level of the channel ecosystem.

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 digital buyer’s journey.

It’s time to reevaluate how you model and design your channel incentive programs.

In the new digital age, you must 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.

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Carefully select and structure individual incentives (e.g., the latest electronics, sports equipment, experiences, gift cards, etc.) to align with your partner company-level incentives and partners’ business models.

Improve partner mindshare and program results with a holistic, behavior-based approach to channel incentives.

Channel incentive programs should encourage activities and behaviors that drive the achievement of overarching business goals.

To launch or optimize a points-based incentive program, first define 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.

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It is essential to win the support of partner executives for any individual rewards program.

You must not only develop an understanding of your partners’ business models, sales processes, and compensation plans, but develop different incentive promotions that align with them.

It’s all about behavior-based incentives.

Most channel rewards programs deliver a benefit only after revenue is attained; therefore, there is no reason for the partner sales rep and sales engineer to engage up front.

This causes programs, that initially seem attractive, to fall by the wayside as partner teams become busy and see no immediate benefit.

Even worse are programs that reward individuals for sales that they would have attained anyway.

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Move away from rewarding partner reps solely for finish-line results. Instead, reward desired actions that are taken at different sales cycle stages, where a change in partner behavior is desired.

A successful sale is the result of a string of productive activities.

Best-in-class vendors are using pre-sales incentives to gain partners' attention and commitment to a process, making them less likely to abandon your programs.

Partner sales teams are more likely to engage with your company when being rewarded for their enablement and pre-sales activities.

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Provide incentives to individuals for using pre-configured, multi-touch programs, training materials, certification programs, configuration tools, sales success stories, and guides for partner reps on how and when to use specific content assets.

Gamification is about driving and rewarding activity and behavior completion.

Channel marketers have long understood the value of competition as a motivator. Performance leaderboards hold a prominent place in sales offices, call centers, and other business environments.

Gamification relies on tools like leaderboards and badges to motivate participants, challenging them to keep up with peers. Gamification is about driving and rewarding activity and/or behavior completion.

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Use gamification as an engagement strategy that maximizes the effect of an existing experience by applying recognition and motivation techniques, such as clear objectives, immediate rewards, and easily identifiable progression.

Cash is not king? Why choice works.

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.

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Be balanced. Top performers in a sales organization are 31% more likely to consider non-cash incentives as a sales performance must have.

What now?

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Follow this framework, designed to optimize your channel performance throughout your buyer’s journey. While you may have different activities to include in your channel reward program, these will provide some food for thought.

Interested in learning more?

Check out the following for more detailed information on Points-Based Channel Rewards.