Channel partner incentives, by the numbers
Channel partners don’t offer their loyalty easily or cheaply. This is hardly news to IT brands, who for decades have sought to earn their partners’ loyalty through a variety of partner incentives, including rebates and marketing assistance.
Traditionally, partner incentives have been offered as rewards for partners hitting sales targets, but increasingly brands are finding value in offering partner incentives to encourage certain behaviors, including lead generation and deal registration.
We recently conducted a survey of 525 IT channel partners globally (457 in North America), to find out what brands could do to win their loyalty. They were asked what role, if any, partner incentive programs play in driving their loyalty and what types of partner incentives they value the most.
The main takeaway is that partner incentive programs matter. A whopping 81 percent of partners say they’ll remain loyal to a brand that offers a partner incentive program and 71 percent say they are likely to focus more resources on selling a brand’s products if a partner incentive program is in place.
40 percent prefer incentives in the form of marketing services
When it comes to which incentives partners value, opinions are more varied. Two-thirds said that monetary incentives are a key motivator, while 40 percent said that marketing services are likely to make them more loyal to a brand.
Motivational incentive programs
“Which type of incentives or incentive programs
are most likely to motivate you to sell more products?”
Base: 525 IT channel partners globally. Source: OneAffiniti's partner incentives research, September 2018.
It’s hardly a surprise that most resellers would look favorably upon financial incentives -- it’s hard to turn down cash. But it’s perhaps more notable that a third of resellers didn’t describe cash incentives as likely to make a difference for them. Some of those partners are the ones who don’t care for partner incentives at all, while others are interested in different types of partner incentives.
Brands would be wise to pay attention to the 40 percent of partners who cite marketing services as a key loyalty motivator. This group of partners represent a key constituency that many brands are neglecting. Partners looking for marketing help tend to be small to mid-size players, since the largest partners already have in-house marketing operations. SMB partners are more likely to be loyal than their larger counterparts, who tend to use their size to extract price concessions from vendors.
The traditional form of marketing assistance isn’t enough
It’s also important to note that many partners may not appreciate the offer of marketing services because their experience with brand-supported marketing has left a lot to be desired. Traditionally, brands offer partners marketing help in the form of collateral or content through a partner portal, but still leave it up to the partner to craft and execute the digital marketing campaign, something that small and mid-size resellers simply don’t have the time or expertise to do.
To get more partners to appreciate the value of “marketing assistance,” you have to offer much more than access to a partner portal. You have to instead offer to conduct marketing on their behalf. The most efficient way to do that is via a through-channel marketing program.
For most small and mid-size partners, a brand-funded through-channel marketing program provides them with something that they’ve never had: professionally-crafted marketing. In all likelihood, their marketing up until this point has been nonexistent or erratic simply due to time and resource constraints. Therefore, from the perspective of a channel partner, a through-channel marketing campaign presents a major value-add at no cost.
Channel partners want cash, but many are also desperately seeking marketing help. Through-channel marketing is the best way to give these partners the help they need. You might be picking up the tab, but partners will be sure to pay you back with increased sales and, more importantly, their loyalty.