Managed correctly, your ecosystem of partners and resellers can prove to be one of your biggest revenue streams, bringing in a steady flow of customers with an attractively low CAC. The key to getting this right, of course, is having a strong partner program in place that sees you actively taking an interest in your partners through thorough onboarding, ongoing training, sales, and business coaching, and co-innovation.

If your ecosystem still isn’t bringing in the number of sales you expect, however, introducing appropriate partner incentive programs could be a good idea. Partner incentive programs take many forms, but the best ones encourage your resellers and partners to sell more while also improving the long-term relationship between you.

In our experience, we’ve found that the following four types of incentive strategies work particularly well in the tech industry.

1. Sales campaign funds

The beauty of sales campaign funds is that you’re able to not only encourage your partners to increase revenue, but also to influence how they boost sales. That’s because this incentive strategy sees your own team devising a sales campaign on behalf of your partners and resellers, and then leaving the execution to them. Because these partner incentive programs are based on a particular sales campaign, they usually take place over a set time period.

For example, you might devise a points-based system your agencies or resellers can use to encourage clients to upgrade their subscription plans. The key here is to convince your agencies and partners on the value of the higher plan, and show how upselling clients to higher plans will improve or strengthen their relationship with that client.

2. Solution development funds

Sometimes, your partners or resellers may benefit from using a demo or proof of concept to close deals. A solution development fund incentive sees you sponsoring or co-investing in these demos, resources, or launches. In my opinion, this is one of the most interesting partner incentive programs used in the tech industry. Not only do both parties stand to benefit from it, it also encourages the kind of collaboration and co-innovation that could really set your partner program apart.

3. Partner rebate programs

The driving motivation behind partner rebate programs is clear: these promotions encourage partners and resellers to push your product because every time they close a deal, they receive a percentage of the sale price back. There are many different types of rebate programs used, but for SaaS companies, we suggest applying the following three strategies:

  • Volume or value incentive rebates: Volume-based rebate strategies allow partners to earn set rebates based on tiered sales volumes. (For example, should a reseller make between 100-199 sales, they earn $1 per sale, should they make between 200-299 sales, they earn $2 per sale, etc.) Similarly, value-based rebates see your partners earning percentage-based rebates tiered according to value-based turnover targets. (For example, should a partner turn over between $1000-$2999, they receive 3% of the turnover back, should they make sales between the value of $3000-$3999, they receive 5% of the turnover back.) Simply put, on both models, the more a partner sells, the more they earn back per sale.
  • A product mix incentive rebate: The aim here is to motivate your partners and resellers to cross-sell across your different product ranges. For example, if a partner is successfully selling your accounting software package, you might incentivize them to get customers to also invest in your POS software.
  • A growth incentive rebate: On this model, rebates are tied to pre-defined channel growth targets. Usually, these funds are offered as a percentage of the sales driven by your channel partners and can be paid out according to a pre-set timeframe, such quarterly, half-yearly, or annually.

4. Lifecycle funds

The aim of incentivizing partners via lifecycle funds is to bring their focus to providing a great customer experience to your end-users over the entire customer lifecycle. The more your partners deliver along the journey, the more incentives they’ll receive. As this WorkSpan article points out, customers today appreciate a holistic, integrated, and tailor-made customer experience. What’s great about this incentive strategy is that it can be designed to reward partners for investing time and energy into engaging your customers over the entire product or service lifecycle, including pre-sale activities, product education, and renewal.

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partner incentive programs

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