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Nailing Your Strategy: Mastering Channel Incentive Planning

Posted 12th August 2019
kick-ass incentives


How to Plan for Success

In an earlier blog, we highlighted the 12 components of running a channel sales incentive. One of these components is Channel Incentive Planning. To ensure the incentive runs smoothly and achieves its goals.

In this blog, we explain how best to plan your Channel Sales Incentives.


Before you start planning your channel incentive parameters and scope, set a budget. It’s no good having grand ideas with lots of rewards to win if there are not enough funds to pay for them! You need to identify each step and all associated internal costs, alongside any third-party expenses.


Define SMART, insight-driven, and measurable goals, aligned with your organisation’s overarching objective. It will be easier for stakeholders to agree to the proposed plan if they can see the projected ROI.

Remember to be realistic with your goals, otherwise, you run the risk of overpromising and underdelivering. Make sure the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) set for the incentive are achievable. Give participants a carrot to aim for that they can actually reach!

Goals don’t have to be linked just to leads or sales. They can also include targets such as attending training courses for enablement purposes. Often the primary objective of any sales incentive is to drive pipeline, however, getting your channel partners enabled is also critical to success. You can’t sell what you don’t know!


What are the key messages you want to communicate to your target audience? What are you incentivising them to do? Once you have identified this you can work with your creative team to develop some interesting and relevant concepts to tie in with your messaging.

Your participants are more likely to engage with your incentive if it grabs their attention; visuals are the best way to achieve that.


The plan should include a list of all the collateral assets you will need for the incentive. What you need will depend on your target audience and the complexity of your channel sales incentive.

These assets aim to raise awareness, inform the participants about the incentive and tell them how to take part.


Explaining how the incentive is going to work is vital to ensure all the stakeholders understand the steps involved in the process, from start to finish. In our experience, the best way to do this is by creating a process flow style diagram.


As part of the planning process, it’s important to identify roles and responsibilities within the team that will be critical to the success of your incentive. Who are the key decision makers, guidance providers, data specialists, creatives and the all-important project manager who will make sure everyone keeps on track? Ensure you clearly define roles and responsibilities for everyone. If you don’t there is a danger that things will be missed or that team members might go off in different directions causing delays in the incentive being launched.


The next step is working out what needs to happen and when. Make sure the actions are set within achievable and realistic timescales. Setting clear deadlines ensures everyone on the team understands their role in the success of the project and highlights key dependencies to the project manager. It also sets the right expectations for the management team. Factor in some contingency time, things always take longer than you think!

Action Plan

Once you’ve established team roles and responsibilities along with the timelines you can create your action plan. This should include the action, the owner and the deadline. Circulate the action plan to the team to ensure everyone is bought into the process and timelines.


We’ve all heard the saying “data is king” and this most definitely applies when running a channel sales incentive. We highlight this in more detail in our blog “How to ensure your incentive doesn’t fail due to data”.


Before you launch your incentive agree on what reporting is required – this is likely to be a combination of progress updates to the participants and ongoing measurements of results to management.

Providing accurate reporting throughout the incentive gives everyone visibility into how things are going and if any changes are needed. It also provides insight for future incentive planning.

Prize Fulfilment

The best channel sales incentives need great rewards to encourage and entice participants to take part. As part of the planning process, you must identify the prizes best for your target audience. Consider their personas, would they be motivated by cash rewards, merchandise goodies, trips away, a nice meal for two in a restaurant or even Lego? Your budget will be a strong deciding factor in this too!


Don’t forget the 5Ps Rule: Planning and Preparation Prevent Poor Performance

Behind every successful channel sales incentive is a finely tuned project plan and a dedicated team ensuring it is a success!

We have spent over 20 years working in the channel and running incentives for our tech clients. We are in an ideal place to help you; with our end-to-end Channel Incentive Service that can manage the entire process for you or work alongside you as required. Find out how The Essential Agency can do the heavy lifting!

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