Channel Champion Blog

by Peter Hornberger

Motivating channel salespeople can be a tricky practice. You need the buy-in from key stakeholders at your partner (sales managers, executives, etc), who likely want the money for their business or for themselves. But rewarding salespeople is proven to drive results. So how can you effectively motive channel salespersons without enraging your partners themselves? Here are a few tips:

  1. Understand what motivates. Most salespeople want cash, debit cards, travel, and merchandise. These are immediate, tangible rewards that reinforce the behavior of selling your product. Partner stakeholders (the smart ones) want money to invest towards growing their business.
  2. Don’t cut corners. Don’t try to go around sales managers and stakeholders to reach the salesperson directly. The best route is the honest route; reach out to the sales manager and explain why you’d like to incentivize their salespeople. Ask, beg, even grovel for their approval, but by all means do not try to go around them; this ends poorly more often than not.
  3. This isn’t an all or nothing game. Nothing says that you can’t motivate both parties. Let’s say you have $10,000 to spend on a partner this quarter. There’s no reason that this money can’t be divided amongst salespeople and partner organizations. You could run a $5,000 travel and merchandise SPIF for salespeople and approve $5,000 in MDF activities for the partner organization.

Lastly, remember that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula for motivating your channel partners and their salespeople. You’ll need to navigate carefully with your partners to figure out their interest levels, commitment to your products, and flexibility with your programs to craft the best programs for your channel.