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How to Successfully Incentivize Your Channel Partners

Reward behaviors that drive revenue and align with your goals

Hitting goals and growing sales volumes are ongoing objectives for your channel program – and they’re great ones. But what if your program could do more to drive lasting behavior change and revenue growth?

That’s what happens when you motivate and incentivize your diverse partner ecosystem with tailored rewards that support them and drive desired behavior – transactional and non. The result is as evergreen as the objective.

So, what behaviors lead to successful business outcomes — and what common roadblocks could slow down progress? What incentives and rewards should you consider prompting action, and how should you deliver them?

Challenges of driving desired behaviors 

(+ Solutions)

Rewarding the right behaviors can be challenging for many reasons. The good news is that where there are problems, there are also several effective solutions.

Here are some common obstacles related to driving the right behaviors and opportunities to adjust your approach:


As incentives become expected, they may begin to reinforce the same behaviors year after year, which means revenue is not growing. Instead, try rewarding varying behaviors in addition to sales transactions so your channel partners begin to see a new way of conducting business.


Try moving from “Be-good” goals to “Get-better” goals. Be-good goals have a concrete outcome like hitting a sales target. Get-better goals focus on growth objectives, like product mastery, education, learning, certification, being customer-centric and marketing collaboration. Rewarding these types of activities can deliver long-term, continuous growth.


Optimize rewards that drive desired outcomes. Understand when to use cash and when to consider other options, like business-building rewards, team and office-based rewards, experiences, gift cards, personalized gifts or incentive trips. Companies that have a broad set of incentive types, like Maritz, can help you understand which rewards will engage various partner groups.


Your channel partners are unique, which creates a nonlinear path to the sale. Your program must account for a mix of transacting and non-transacting participants, such as influencers, affiliates, consultants, and installers. Consider the assistance of trusted program design experts, like those at Maritz, who can help customize a program with stacked promotions – or multiple programs to address your unique audiences.

3 insights to incentivize the right behaviors

As you take inventory of current challenges in your channel program and start pivoting toward solutions, use these insights to help you identify opportunities where you can more effectively encourage your partners’ behavior and drive results:

Your channel partners are as unique as you are. You want to incentivize the right behaviorsacross the entire modern partner ecosystem.

Your partner network consists of more than just direct sellers, which is why it’s more effective to nurture and reward the varying players in your ecosystem to maximize your customer influence.

Let’s examine some strategic methods to influence all partner types:

  • Speak to multiple audiences – Consider the varying roles you need to reach to push your performance level to new highs:
    • Transactional vs non (Influencers, affiliates, consultants, installers)
    • Sellers vs management
    • Individuals vs businesses
    • Participants vs stakeholders
    • Large vs mid-size vs small
  • Motivate more than sales-only behaviors – Dive into your partner ecosystem and identify the right behaviors that lead to successful business outcomes – like pre- and post-sale activities. Channel marketers or incentive program managers should identify all the positive behaviors across your partner ecosystem that could lead to shared growth, great customer experiences, and long-term success.
  • Distribute shared incentives – A channel partner engagement platform should easily be able to split incentives or cascade/distribute shared incentives. An administrator or another team member can distribute an organization’s earnings to those individuals who support the sales achievement without being in a direct sales role. If you want to create loyalty beyond direct sellers, you’ll need to develop a structure that allows them to participate in the program.

If you want to become more efficient at incentive management and delivering well-timed payouts to your channel partners, automate your incentive program using a platform that combines multiple layers into one cohesive strategy.

The result? Engaged partners who deliver revenue growth in exchange for enticing rewards – which leads to long-term loyalty.

But that’s not all. Automation and efficiency can do a lot more for your channel programs, including:

  • Cost reduction – “Smart Automation” from your platform can reduce costs by automating routine tasks and regular payments. Incentives can be automatically triggered when achievements are met.
  • Partner satisfaction – Increase satisfaction for your audience when you provide timely payments. This builds trust and reliability with your brand and leads to continuous improvements.
  • Improved results – Automation can drive results with triggered communications that alert partners when they’re nearing an award, motivating them to increase effort and drive sales.
  • Data-driven program enhancements – Automated program tasks will free up time for your admin, allowing them to focus on implementing program enhancements and improving results instead of mundane day-to-day tasks.
  • Consistent performance – Your participants notice when your program runs smoothly. And when they know they can count on the process to be accurate, they’re more comfortable stretching their performance and achieving outsized goals. Why? Because they know they’ll be rewarded properly for their effort.

Expansive incentive options broaden your program options, allowing you to match the proper rewards with your desired outcomes.

There are many types of incentives and rewards that can motivate your channel partners. Tap into an array of incentive options, both cash and non-cash. Incentives and rewards help create an emotional connection to your brand. Moreover, non-cash awards drive further value.

So, how can you ensure your incentive options are matched to your unique needs?

You’ll need a robust strategy that optimizes the right incentives and drives the best outcomes. This strategy should include:

  • Business-building rewards: To apply MDF, rebates and more.
  • Swag and logoed goods: To elevate a pack of brand loyalists who represent your brand and are excited to keep your premium logoed merchandise in rotation.
  • A core catalog of motivating rewards: To implement a points solution so your partners have the ultimate flexibility in determining which rewards will be most personally meaningful. Let them choose what to spend their earnings on to drive performance on the front end and leave lasting memories of your brand on the back end. Rewards that accomplish both come in many varieties:
    • Merchandise
    • Gift Cards
    • Experiences
    • Travel
    • Charity
  • Cash solutions: To make payouts easy. Incorporate flexible monetary incentives that also come in many varieties.
    • Prepaid cards
    • ACH/Debit/Checks
    • PayPal/Venmo
    • MDF and Co-Op Funds

Sum and substance

When designing a channel program, it’s imperative to incentivize the right behaviors to achieve both short-term success and long-term loyalty. However, just as important is relying on the right resources and ensuring you have a deep toolbox to help you find the balance.

Talk to your Maritz representative or contact us to discover solutions for designing and optimizing your channel program today.