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May 22, 2015

Tactics to help drive early participation in channel incentive programs

Drive participation in channel programs BI WORLDWIDE Latin America.


At BI WORLDWIDE, we use the principles of behavioral economics to create the best engagement strategies on the planet. We work with expert academics who advise us on the latest research on human behavior, engagement and decision-making. We use non-cash rewards and recognition to engage and motivate employees and sales teams. Check out our case study library to see how our customized and results-driven solutions have helped clients all over the world.

A company can assemble an impressive channel sales incentive that is easy to understand and highly rewarding for participants, yet the program doesn’t gain the immediate traction (measured as program enrollments/registrations) as expected. Why?

There is no single answer…and no simple answer. The answer is: “It depends.” Many different factors can impact how quickly a new incentive initiative gets off the ground, including the following:

  • Level of channel leadership support
  • Additional demands on the audience
  • Access to the audience
  • Incentive and general business message clutter
  • Quantity and quality of communications used, including call-to-action messaging
  • Owners/managers acting as “gatekeepers”
  • Rules structure(s) used and eligible participant perceptions regarding their own opportunities to earn
  • Hesitancy to provide sensitive personal information (e.g., Federal Tax ID, Social Security number) during enrollment

 A BI WORLDWIDE (BIW) client recently launched a program to sales personnel at an independent sporting goods retailer. Unfortunately, program results fell short of expectations. From BIW’s perspective, the incentive sponsor (our client) seemed to do everything right. They worked with retail leadership to gain retail leader support, they used a creative print brochure to drive engagement and move recipients to enroll, they created a launch overview document that store managers could use to introduce the program to eligible retail reps and they even included incentive earning opportunities for store managers. These manager earning opportunities typically result in high engagement among management personnel that then carries over to reps on the sales floor.


So what went wrong?

Many store managers, who were charged with launching the program within their stores, failed to fully use the launch tools provided and distribute program launch materials to eligible retail reps. The lack of overall store manager engagement is evidenced by the numbers, where only 38 of 139 store managers (27%) enrolled in the program. Visits to a handful of local stores during the first few weeks of the program revealed that retail reps at these select stores had not received the program information. When told about the incentive opportunity, these reps expressed a strong desire to participate in the program; BIW then took steps to get these people enrolled.

What can you do if your program is falling flat like this one? While there’s not one definitive way to drive enrollment activity early, there are proven tactics that can help.

  • Get channel partner leader support for launch: Though no one should be forced to enroll in an incentive program, it never hurts when a channel partner leader expresses the importance of a program and encourages timely sign-ups among eligible participants.
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