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5 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Channel Incentive Management Solution for Your Business

Whether your channel consists of technology solution providers and MSPs or kitchen and bath distributors or auto aftermarket distribution, ensuring they are motivated and incented to sell your solutions and products is your main priority; even through supply chain challenges and labor shortages.

The Forrester Wave™ inspired us to think about this process even more. In order to drive behaviors and influence customers, your Channel Incentive Management (CIM) solution needs to be working efficiently for your business. Your opportunity to gain partner mindshare needs to be personalized and not overcomplicated with unmanageable incentives, which the right CIM partner can implement.

So when it comes to choosing a Channel Incentive Management (CIM) platform that can build and manage a flexible experience to optimize partner engagement, it’s important to look at every facet including whether or not they can help you with the shift that your industry, your channel, and your customers need at that moment.

Here are 5 things to consider when choosing a Channel Incentive Management (CIM) platform:

  1. Room to Grow: When companies start by motivating their channel with co-op/MDF, many times they’ll realize the funds aren’t being used effectively because there isn’t a SPIF or Rebate/Cash-back program in place as well. To truly get your partners and their distribution to leverage funds in an effective way, you also have to incent the right behaviors. If you’ve implemented a co-op/MDF program but don’t have room to include SPIFs, Rebates, Cash-back, volume rebates, etc. down the road, you’re going to end up costing yourself more money or eventually implementing a multi-platform solution that doesn’t talk to each other. Utilize a CIM provider who have the capabilities to grow with your business requirements and have one platform that integrates all incentive solutions into.
  1. Forward looking strategy: Always have a longer-term vision around your channel and ensure the provider that you partner with is passionate about continued innovation. Anyone who has been in the in their respective industry more than five years can look back and appreciate how much things have changed in that short time. If the company you are working with on your incentive solutions isn’t thinking toward the next 5, 10, 15 years then your solution will be dated very soon. Ask the companies you are talking to, what their plans are for innovation. What does their roadmap for innovation look like and how can it be applied to your ecosystem? If you’re hearing more of the same, with no new developments planned, it’s time to talk to someone else and find the right partner who will help your business to excel.
  1. Compliance and security: Data protection has never been more important than it is at this very moment. And for good reason. Cybersecurity risks have evolved exponentially, according to Forbes Magazine, in recent years with more sophisticated methods being used to target every industry, businesses large and small. Is the solution you’re looking at SOC2 compliant? What about Anti-Money Laundering (AML)? Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)? Are they really important? Do you want to risk it? I can hear your legal team shouting that these considerations are music to their ears!

Compliance and security is super complex and not a subject to be taken lightly, so find a CIM provider that will support your channel infrastructure and maintain the highest level of data security for your customers.

  1. Knowledgeable team: There’s a lot more that goes into a Channel Incentive Management (CIM) program than just the platform. Be certain you have a team and a company behind you to support your strategy, execution, travel/event rewards, and build a program that works for your channel. It doesn’t hurt if they’ve actually walked in your shoes a time or two and its especially helpful if you can tap into their consultative knowledge on where the industry is going and how to get their first. How does the saying go… knowledge is power?
  1. Transparency: CIM platforms are moving hundreds of thousands if not millions of your dollars from you to your channel. Whether rebates/cash-back, sales or volume incentives, or co-op/MDF, you need an established, reputable (see point #3!), and transparent company to partner with. Some organizations out there will claim that these “pass-through funds” are part of their overall revenue to make themselves look larger than they are. It is important to understand that the company you are working with can foot the bill, so to speak, for your funds, but is also being incredibly honest about their pricing. If the pricing seems incredibly low compared to the competition, chances are, you’re paying for it elsewhere and now you haven’t budgeted for it. As they say, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Finding a suitable Channel Incentive Management partner and a solution that is the right fit for your business can be a lot to think about, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a difficult decision when you ask the right questions. We’re happy to share a complimentary copy of the Forrester Wave™ here, to assist in your decision making.

Learn more about how to intelligently manage and optimize channel incentives, to improve ROI and drive business growth.

About the Author

Heather is a recognized channel marketing expert and a self-proclaimed “recovering channel professional”. She founded both Channel Maven Consulting and Spark Your Channel, where she held the positions of Chairperson and CEO respectively, before bringing her companies to join the 360insights family via acquisition. She is a sought-after keynote speaker to a variety of audiences about entrepreneurship, building a service-based business and B2B strategy, B2B marketing and channel marketing. Heather is passionate about enabling vendors to drive sales through their channel partners, bringing with her to 360 a wealth of experience from her years spent in channel programs and marketing for big-brand tech companies like EMC, EqualLogic and Dell, before forming Channel Maven Consulting to provide strategic channel marketing “to” and partner demand generation “with” to IT and telecom channel organizations of all sizes. She holds an MBA in Marketing Strategy/Technology Marketing from Babson College in Massachusetts, as well as a BBA in Marketing/Management from the University of Massachusetts. Heather hails from Boston, Massachusetts, and now lives in Boulder, Colorado, with her husband and fellow entrepreneur Simeon, their two daughters and dog Zoe. She enjoys hiking and working out, and volunteering as a family with several organizations throughout their community.